Episcopalians and Lutherans in Washington And Bethlehem Join at Christmastime To Pray for Peace in the Holy Land
On December 20, 2008, from the Bethlehem Chapel of the National Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Washington, and from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem itself, American and Palestinian Christians joined in words and songs of Christmas even as the clouds of renewed warfare began to form over the Holy Land.
Press Release- HCEF
In Washington, Rev. John Bryson Crane, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and Rev. Richard Graham, Bishop of the Metropolitan D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, presided over the American part of the Christmas service.
At the same time, Rev. Suheil Dawani, Bishop the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, joined by Rev. Munib Younan, Bishop pf the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Middle East and the Holy Land, led the service in Bethlehem.
Each of the two services was seen and heard via simulcast by those participating in the other service. Both services featured scripture readings, songs and homilies in English and Arabic.
In addition to prayers of praise and worship, the services emphasized themes of peace and Christian unity. Bishop Dawani described the longstanding and close relations between Lutherans and Episcopalians in the Holy Land, and stated that Palestinian Christians are heartened by the solidarity and support of Christians in other countries. He also expressed satisfaction that Christians in the Holy Land speak with a united voice, and he stressed that in supporting schools, hospitals and social services for all Palestinians, Christians "are doing the work of peace."
The Christmas simulcast event was sponsored by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, the Ad Hoc Committee for Bethlehem, Sharing Jerusalem, and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for the Middle East.