“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation created to address plight of Christians in the Holy Land

“We seek to replace despair with hope, fear with security, and debasement with human dignity. . .”

“We seek to replace despair with hope, fear with security, and debasement with human dignity. . .”

Washington, DC. The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) has been established to respond to the dire living conditions experienced today by Christians in the Holy Land. It seeks Christian participation to also make the Christian Millennium Jubilee Year a true celebration of Christian belief and commitment.

Founded in January 1999 by an ecumenical group of the Christians, the HCEF urges Christians of all denominations to respond to the cries for justice and help emanating from the Holy Land.

“We must put ourselves in the shoes of these Christians, to hear them and to help them,” Rateb Rabie, newly-elected President of the HCEF said. “We must personally learn about conditions in the Holy Land and hearken to those who live where Christ was born. Christians here and in the Holy Land also have the opportunity to enrich the Millennium Holy Year celebration by infusing it with the Christian action and ideals needed to renew for the next thousand years the principles Jesus taught us.”

The foundation was created to raise money, identify and fund practical things that can be done to address the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Holy land and to develop person-to-person, family-to-family and church-to-church relationships between Americans and Palestinians.
The idea for the foundation arose out of Mr. Rabie’s Arab roots and his Christian responsibilities reflected in his Catholic faith. A member of the Birzeit Society, he saw how a small community of Americans could help the 4,000 residents (half Christian and half Muslim) of the village of Birzeit just north of Jerusalem. Looking beyond Birzeit he saw wide spread suffering among Christians in the Holy Land and realized a way to peace must be found with the help of Christians in America. Creating a foundation which can involve Christians in this peace process as part of the Jubilee Year celebration made eminent good sense.

The mission statement of the Foundation reflects these purposes:

“The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is a non-profit organization intent on maintaining a strong Christian presence in the Holy Land. For it is with the Holy Land Christians that Our Lord Jesus Christ chose to dwell and it is they which sustain the living presence at the Holy Sites. At the same time we know it is basic human dignity on which peace depends.

“Our mission is to enhance and preserve our irreplaceable Christian Heritage. The Holy Land Christians and Holy Sites are too important to be forgotten. “We seek to provide financial, moral and spiritual support for our brothers and sisters in order to improve the deplorable living conditions which they are forced to endure. We seek to replace despair with hope, fear with security and debasement with human dignity.
In particular, we seek conditions which will enable Christians to stay, and will encourage and assist the return of Christians who have emigrated.”

Out of an ever-expanding group of people with an understanding of and commitment to address conditions in the Holy Land a Board of seven directors has been created. The board includes the following:
– President: Rateb Y. Rabie, President, Image Printing & Publishing, Inc., Vienna, VA. A member of the Shrine of St. Jude Catholic parish in Rockville.
– Vice President: Rev. Lynne Faris, National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC.
Secretary: Paul G. Zurkowski, Publisher, Our Parish Times, a community newspaper serving Catholic parishes in Montgomery County, MD. A member of Christ the King Catholic Church, Silver Spring, MD.
– Treasurer: Father Labib Kobti, Pastor, St. Anne, San Francisco, California
– Member: Dr. Jack B. Fellows, a human rights leader in the National Presbyterian Church, Washington DC.
– Member: Don Kruse, formerly a Consul at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem, also a member of the National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC.
– Member: George Adib Khoury, President, The Birzeit Society, Member of the Greek Orthodox Church Detroit, MI.

The Foundation has identified the following goals for implementing its mission:
· Educate Americans concerning the plight of Christians in the Holy land and communicate the true story of conditions in the Holy Land to the American public and to American Christians.
· Build community within the Holy Land and between the Holy Land and the US through pilgrimages, frequent contacts, publications and communications.
· Bring American Christians together with Christians in the Holy land for inspiration and future cooperation — seeing is believing.
· Generate and carefully husband funds through contributions, fund raising activities, prudent investment and on-going oversight of the selection of projects and their implementation.
· Provide financial support to Holy Land Christian families in need.
· Develop economic enterprises in the Holy Land to create jobs and better living conditions.
· Support the availability of education and educational excellence in the Holy Land.
· Support the availability of medical services.
· Support cultural and social services, athletics and health consciousness.
· Develop church-to-church, family-to-family partnership programs.

“A local committee of the Foundation is being organized in the Holy Land to select and oversee projects of most value to the community.”
Four projects are underway to implement some of these goals; others are in the planning stages:

1. Support for the Living Stones Housing Project in Birzeit which has raised $2.5 million of the 3 million needed to complete 46 housing units for local area families.
2. Support for the “Children’s English Reading Clubs” in the Holy Land, organized by Dr. Jack B. Fellows. A program to make English language materials available for Palestinian children.
3. Support for the needs of 43 Latin Patriarchate schools, sponsorship of students, Christian and Muslim.
4. Operating sales of Olive Wood creations at craft and other sales programs at American Christian churches by accepting on consignment large shipments of Olive Wood Creations from the Holy Land craftsmen and returning the sales proceeds to the artists and their workshops.
A major membership drive is planned. The Foundation will be launched publicly at a Gala Banquet on February 5, 1999 at the National Presbyterian Church at 4101 Nebraska Ave., NW, Washington, DC. Tickets for the Banquet and Dance are $25 per person. Tables of six are $150.

For further information or for information about Foundation membership, please call either  301-871-9222 or 202-362-9127.

2016-10-24T07:36:12+00:00 February 1st, 1999|Categories: Press Releases, Uncategorized|