Watch a recording of the Simulcast on our website HERE and read a summary of the event and highlighted comments from the speakers below:
Religious and public leaders from both locations were in attendance to share their visions for peace throughout the world, including:
|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|
|H.E. Bishop William Shomali speaking from Bethlehem as seen from Washington DC|
|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|