May 8, 2018 – HCEF was proud to host 32 pilgrims from the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Colorado who completed 12 days of our Living Stones Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Under the leadership of the church’s Pastor of Congregational Care, Dr. Carl Hofmann, the pilgrims traveled to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, Nazareth, Galilee, and other Holy sites located in Palestine. Dr. Hofmann, a longtime friend of HCEF, returned to the Holy Land to lead his fourth HCEF Living Stones pilgrimage. As the group visited iconic pilgrimage sites, such as, the Church of the Nativity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the shores of the Sea of Galilee, they also had many opportunities to meet and interact with the local Palestinian Christians.
Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS, HCEF President and CEO expressed his excitement in seeing Americans learn more about the Holy Land Christians because most pilgrims are forever changed. When they return home, these pilgrims become active participates in HCEF’s mission to ‘replace despair with hope, fear with security and humiliation with human dignity’. Further Sir Rabie expressed the importance of HCEF’s role in providing support for all aspects of life in order to sustain and preserve the presence and culture of the Arab Palestinian Christian community in the Holy Land. As well, he expressed how much the Living Stones need the help of the Christian Community in the United States.
In Birzeit, the pilgrims celebrated an ecumenical service at the Latin Church, where they were welcomed by the Pastor, Father Louis Hazboun. The group then visited HCEF’s Birzeit Social Development and Cultural Center, BSCC where they shared a meal and interacted with local Christian elders. Another highlight was the group’s visit to Nablus, which has a sister city relationship with the pilgrims’ hometown of Boulder. The group was welcomed by the Mayor of Nablus, and conveyed greetings and good wishes from their city in the U.S. to their Palestinian brothers and sisters.
“This has been an incredible, eye-opening and heart-filling trip,” commented one of the pilgrims, Mrs. Wendy Redal of Boulder. “Really profound in so many ways. The ancient stones are amazing, but it is indeed the Living Stones that hold by far the most meaning. So grateful to be here, and to see it through the lens of HCEF.”
HCEF looks forward to welcoming future groups from Boulder and across the United States as we continue our mission to support the Christian Arabs of the Holy Land, which is done by building ties between them and Christians around the world through our Living Stones Pilgrimage program. We invite you to visit the Holy Land on pilgrimage unlike any other, please visit https://holylandtours.ps/ and contact our Pilgrimage Manager Andrew Griswold firstname.lastname@example.org