Watch a recording of the Simulcast on our website HERE and read a summary of the event and highlighted comments from the speakers below:

On Saturday, December 6, 2014, HCEF conducted its Annual Christmas Simulcast: Message of Peace from Bethlehem and Washington DC. Each year, HCEF's Simulcast offers a rare opportunity for Christians in DC, and those around the world watching live online, to sing, pray and listen to messages of peace with the "living stones," Christians living in the Holy Land whose ancestors were among the first followers of Christ.

The Simulcast was broadcast from the Shrine of St. Jude Catholic Church in the DC area and from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Hundreds attended in both locations, and thousands watched online.


Religious and public leaders from both locations were in attendance to share their visions for peace throughout the world, including:

From left to right: Fr. Paul Lee, Pastor, Shrine of St. Jude; His Excellency Bishop Knestout, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Washington; Mr. Omar Fakeh, Deputy Ambassador of Palestine; Rev. Dr. David Renwick, Senior Pastor National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC; Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS

Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop, Latin Patriarchate of JerusalemH.E. Rula Ma'ayah, Palestinian Minister of Tourism & AntiquitiesHE Major General Jibreen Al-Bakri, Bethlehem District GovernorBishop Barry Knestout, Auxiliary Bishop of WashingtonRev. Dr. David Renwick, Senior Pastor of the National Presbyterian Church; and others. 
The Masters of Ceremonies in Bethlehem and Washington DC, respectively, were Father Michael McDonagh, International Adviser to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; and Stephen B. Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H., Former Special Olympics Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Support. Songs were performed in Bethlehem by the  Olive Branches Choir and in Washington DC by the  English and Spanish Choirs of the Shrine of St. Jude.
Father McDonagh addresses the Simulcast participants from inside the Church of the Nativity with Washington on the screen behind

Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS, HCEF's President/CEO, offered up these words during his welcoming speech: "Christmas is important because it marks our beginning, the beginning of who we are now. For over two thousand years the Palestinian Christians have been saving our roots, our Christian roots in the Holy Land. They have been struggling to make sure that we are not cut off from our roots as Christians. This is why, on behalf of the people of Bethlehem, I ask you to come home. Come to Bethlehem. Come visit us."

H.E Rula Ma'ayah shares her message of peace from Bethlehem

Her Excellency Rula Ma'ayah advocated on behalf of Palestine, stating that, "Every year we say that our message is a message of peace. Yes, this is true. But this year we add that all we want for this Christmas is justice, justice for our children, justice for our families. We have the right as Palestinians to live in justice like any other nation in the world. We have the right to live in peace in our independent state without occupation. And, as a Minister of Tourism, I would like to see more people coming to Palestine. When you visit Palestine, you support the Christians of the Holy Land." 

H.E. General Jibreen Al-Bakri speaking in Bethlehem

His Excellency General Jibreen Al-Bakri expressed his hopes: "The message of Christmas this year is a prayer to end the occupation. The Palestinian people need help from all fronts to end the occupation. We hope that next year we will celebrate Christmas in a free Palestine where Palestinians have the right to live with dignity in peace and justice. From Palestine, the message of Jesus spread to the whole world. His is a message of love, and our message is to embrace all people who support peace and who are against violence."


Bishop Knestout gave one of the messages of peace. He spoke of our need to focus on the spiritual aspects of the Christmas season rather than getting caught up in the material drives of our culture. The Bishop reminded the participants that what we need most of all is "a peace rooted in love," which comes from Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Bishop Knestout also quoted Pope Francis who, upon reflecting on his time in the Holy Land, prayed, "Give us the courage to say, 'Never again war.'"

Rev. Dr. David Renwick, Senior Pastor National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC;

Rev. Dr. David Renwick spoke about his time visiting the Holy Land this past summer. "Each time I visit your land, I am humbled by the courage and by the faith of those I meet who face daily indignities and obstacles that I will never have to face." He continued by praying that people of the Holy Land would be continually strengthened by their hope for peace.

Father Paul Lee, Pastor, Shrine of St. Jude
Father Paul Lee, Pastor, Shrine of St. Jude, was grateful for the opportunity to connect with Christians in the Holy Land and provided a scripture reading of Matthew 1:18-25 for the Simulcast. HCEF is very grateful to Father Lee for his participation in event and for hosting it at his cathedral, taking a step toward greater solidarity between Christians in the U.S. and those in the Holy Land.
H.E. Bishop William Shomali speaking from Bethlehem as seen from Washington DC
When His Excellency Bishop William Shomali spoke, he emphasized that the glory of God, peace of men, and justice are fully interrelated.  In light of this, he made an appeal for the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem, one of the last green areas of fertile land and home to the Cremisan Monastery. Israel is planning to extend its separation wall and annex large portions of valley. This will harm Palestinians in general, and especially the Palestinian Christians living on the land, by displacing families and critically harming the local economy. Bishop Shomali asked for prayers and advocacy in response to this egregious action against the people of the Holy Land.   
Stephen B. Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H., of the Lutheran church, addresses Simulcast participants 

In his closing remarks, Sir Rabie asked everyone to put their faith into action, to do something for peace and for the preservation of Christians in the Holy Land.


To answer this call, please visit our website and contribute to well being of Christians in the Holy Land HERE.  And if you missed the event, you can watch the Simulcast on our front page, along with being able to check out the many programs HCEF employs to provide care to those in need and foster solidarity among all Christians HERE


The Olive Branch Choir singing hymns in the Church of the Nativity