HCEF is committed to the continued presence, empowerment, and well-being of Arab Christians in the Holy Land and to developing the bonds of solidarity between them and Christians elsewhere.
Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with HUMAN SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY
- Advocacy & Outreach The mission of our advocacy and outreach is to educate and communicate on behalf of Palestinian Christians and to be their voice. Our work is directed toward fulfilling a vision of sharing one land for two peoples and three faiths. Through a variety of programs and initiatives, rooted in the cause, we continually move closer to this goal.
- HCEF International Conferences: Our annual international conferences are specifically designed to advocate for Palestinian Christians, for peace and justice for the Palestinian people at large, and to serve as a forum for better understanding between peoples and faiths. We bring expert speakers and presenters from around the world and of various faith backgrounds to address many different aspects of the Holy Land, from intereligious dialogue, to politics, to economics. The conferences engage Christian Churches from all denominations, inviting them to volunteer and offering them ways to support the Holy Land Christians spiritually, morally & economically. At our Awards Banquet, an event of the conference, HCEF honors individuals and institutions who have shown outstanding commitment to the Holy Land Christians, and to advancing the causes of peace and justice.
- Holy Land Days (HLD) constitutes an educational program through which we reach out to churches around the United States, helping them find their spiritual roots in the Holy Land by introducing them to the Holy Land Christians and the reality of their daily lives. A Holy Land Day includes some or all of the following: an introduction to the situation of Holy Land Christians through a presentation that includes informative photos and videos; a sermon by a clergy member or an address by a lay person familiar with the Holy Land and its Living Stones – the Palestinian Christians; introductions to a variety of HCEF’s programs, including: the Children’s Education Fund, the Holy Land Gifts program, Living Stones Pilgrimage, and others that help ease the suffering of Holy Land Christians who are committed to remaining in the land where our Savior was born, crucified, and resurrected.
- HCEF Committees around the world carry out the advocacy & outreach of the foundation at a grassroots level. Each committee, while maintaining its own individual character, reflects the philosophy and goals of the foundation. They organize and direct their energies efficiently with the help and guidance of the HCEF Headquarters in Bethesda as well as the HCEF Board of Directors. Committee members serve as Ambassadors of the Mother Church who support HCEF’s efforts on behalf of the Holy Land Christians through prayer, financial contributions, organizing and contributing to HCEF’s conferences, pilgrimages and other special initiatives. HCEF creates informational materials and publications that allow these Ambassadors to stay informed and educate others about the Holy Land Christians, current events in the Holy Land, and the work of HCEF.
- The Children’s Education Fund (CEF). Christian schools play a key role in preserving the Christian faith and heritage of the Holy Land, as well as fostering coexistence between faiths. Due to the dire economic situation, many Christian families in the Holy Land are unable to pay tuition, leaving the schools at a desperate financial crossroads. HCEF and the Christian schools of the Holy Land developed CEF to meet this urgent need. Donations by sponsors directly sustain the operations of the Christian schools, keeping a Christ-centered education available to all, and guaranteeing the importance of Christianity in Palestinian society.
- Holy Land Gifts Program (HLGP) Vital support for a Christian Tradition: Handicraft production, namely olive wood and mother of pearl religious works, has evolved over many centuries into a cultural tradition of the Palestinian Christians. Unfortunately, the conflict in the Middle East has deterred many pilgrims from around the world who once constituted the craftsmen’s clientele. In providing an international market for these items, HCEF seeks to create sustainable job growth for approximately 800 families in the Bethlehem area alone. These families have recently fallen into economic hardship and rely almost exclusively on the income generated by this beautiful tradition. The HLGP allows these families to preserve their sacred tradition in the Holy Land by selling their works in the West.
- Living Stones Pilgrimages (LSP) are unique, spiritually enriching experiences. Pilgrims enjoy inspiring visits to holy places that bring the Bible to life, but more than this, they enjoy visiting, worshiping, and breaking bread with the living stones—descendants of the first followers of Christ. HCEF pilgrims travel as guests of local Holy Land churches, personally welcomed by church leaders and congregations. In keeping with the foundation’s mission to provide economic support for the Christian community, HCEF pilgrimages strive to direct the economic benefits of tourism to local Christian Palestinian shopkeepers, travel agents, guides, and hotel operators. Each pilgrimage can be customized and tailored to the needs and intentions of the parish, organization or group, including the option to establish a service project.
- Bethlehem Heart of Christmas (BHC): Christmas symbolizes a time of hope and peace for the people of Bethlehem, as well as the broader Palestinian community. The origins of the Christmas story lie in Bethlehem. Thus, the celebration of Christmas represents for the world a window into Palestine. HCEF established Bethlehem Heart of Christmas as an opportunity for Palestinians to promote and take pride in their own traditions and unique history. It represents an important occasion for the Christian Palestinian community to showcase their unity, perseverance, and spirit – locally, nationally and internationally. Events of the Bethlehem Heart of Christmas Program include the Journey to Bethlehem, Jesus Loves the Children, and the Simulcast Message of Peace, as well as other special holiday programs.
- Journey to Bethlehem allows around one thousand children from towns and cities throughout Palestine and the Galilee in Israel to visit Bethlehem. For many of these children, this trip is the first opportunity they are given to visit and worship at the birthplace of Jesus, though they may live only a few miles away. They are restricted from travel because of the occupation and the great difficulty in obtaining travel permits.
- Jesus Loves the Children is a project that provides gifts for Christian children throughout the Holy Land during the Christmas season. Receiving a gift from Christians outside the Holy Land is a sign of hope for these children who live in adversity caused by the occupation and the consequent violence. Children and their families from around the world can share in this project and truly unite in solidarity and prayer with their Christian family members who call the Holy Land their home. Through the generosity of friends in Christ, these Holy Land children will be able to know the joy of Christmas.
- The Christmas Message of Peace consists of a simulcast between Bethlehem, Gaza, and Washington DC. Christians in each region gather with religious and civic leaders to partake in a joint televised message of faith, peace, and solidarity. Choirs in both countries perform international Christmas carols in different languages, and leaders exchange messages of peace on behalf of their respective communities.
- The Birzeit Senior Citizen Center. (BSCC) Christian elders have remained in the Holy Land courageously and faithfully to witness their faith and resist oppression. In today’s conditions of violence and unrest, they are some of the most vulnerable citizens in the region. Because younger generations often leave their native towns and villages to seek employment elsewhere, many seniors find themselves alone and isolated. In response to this, HCEF established the BSCC, providing elderly with hot meals, healthcare, health education, leisure activities, daytrips, and, most importantly, with companionship. The elders are given the gift of knowing that they are neither alone nor forgotten. The BSCC has restored their sense of family and has given them something bright to look forward to.
- The Ecumenical Center for Research & Development This center helps churches and people of the Holy Land to enhance their role as agents for social justice and equity in all spheres of life, locally, regionally, and internationally. Through research, workshops, conferences and other educational initiatives taught by experts from around the world, Palestinians of all ages and walks of life come here to learn and be empowered to face the pressing issues impacting their lives.
- Housing Rehabilitaiton Program (HRP) HCEF finances and operates the Housing Rehabilitation Program for needy families in the Holy Land, which serves to renovate their substandard homes, while also providing jobs and income for local Christian craftsmen and laborers. Since it was established in 2004, the HRP program has repaired over 400 homes for a total of 1850 family members, and employed 675 individuals, who together support about 2980 dependents.
- HCEF/REACH Call Center HCEF is committed to building and sustaining the economy for people in the Holy Land through job creation. Sadly, their daily living conditions are worsening. At an alarming 23+%, the unemployment rate in Bethlehem is the second highest in the Holy Land, after Gaza! We can have a direct positive impact through our HCEF/REACH Call Center. The Call Center operates with state-of-the-art technolog, and, at full capacity, it will provide more than 100 jobs in the Bethlehem area and customer service to companies in the United States and elsewhere!
- Church Partnership & Twinning Program (CPTP) HCEF invites American churches to partner with Holy Land churches, establishing an active and mutually beneficial relationship between the two. Partnerships offer many ways to bond spiritually, culturally, and economically with the Palestinian Christians – the living roots of Christianity. Partnerships are blessings for both sides; Holy Land Christians are provided much needed solidarity, and American Christians are provided cultural and spiritual enrichment from the birthplace of their faith.
- Children’s Peace Program (CPP) enables American churches and schools to work for greater understanding and solidarity with churches and schools in the Holy Land. HCEF organizes small groups of Palestinian students and a teacher to reside in an American parish or school community for several weeks. CPP’s objective is to build a living bridge of understanding and peace between the Holy Land and the West and between the children of both lands. By understanding cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds of others, all students are able to recognize that these differences do not diminish the dignity of an individual person. Our larger mission is to change the hearts and lives, not only of the host families and the children themselves, but of the communities they exist in as well.
- Know Thy Heritage (KTH) Leadership Program; Explore & Live Palestine! Know Thy Heritage empowers Palestinian youth in the Diaspora through knowledge of their Palestinian identity, culture, history, and traditions, as well as the current economic environment, political landscape, social structures and conditions of Palestine. KTH takes delegations of Palestinian Diaspora Youth from around the world on homecoming journeys of several weeks, travelling throughout their homeland. Our unique and holistic curriculum teaches the youth valuable leadership skills, empowering them to be ambassadors of peace while remaining connected to their roots, heritage and homeland.
- Bethlehem Museum: This Museum will serve as a people-to-people hub that shares the story, experience, and heritage of Palestinians by highlighting the Palestinian Christians’ national experience; and creating a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Palestinian people and their continuous role in preserving the Holy Land heritage, identity and faith. The museum will conserve and exhibit heritage of Palestine through the Bethlehem perspective for the purposes of awareness, education, and enjoyment. It will be a vibrant educational and cultural center attracting diverse audiences and providing them with a range of exhibits that encourage learning and stimulate thought about the Palestinian identity and heritage. Engaging exhibition techniques will enable physical interaction, emotional investment, and mental stimulation throughout the museum sections and stations.
- HCEF Inn: This inn is located right in the heart of Bethlehem and steps away from the Church of the Nativity. The Guest Rooms, all with full private bathrooms, are a home away from home Each single or double occupancy guest room is furnished with all of the modern conveniences, including cable TV and wifi. The inn affords stunning views of the Bethlehem area, home cooking and an opportunity to experience the daily life of the Arab Christians (referred to in the Bible as the Living Stones) and walk through the streets where Jesus once walked.