In 2004 Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Director of the International Center of Bethlehem, extended an invitation to the Presbytery of Ohio Valley to “Come and see” the work of the Center. In January 2006, 13 people from the Presbytery of Ohio Valley accepted Mitri Raheb’s invitation and traveled to Bethlehem. Returning home, the travelers designed a proposal for presbytery to partner with the International Center of Bethlehem.
In August, 2006, the Presbytery of the Ohio Valley voted to affirm a partnership with the International Center of Bethlehem. The Partnership includes: Scholar Dollars for the students of Dar Al Kalima School, Travel Opportunities, Support for the Churches for Middle East Peace, Gathering and sending Hearing Aids for patients in Bethlehem, Teaching/learning of the work of the International Center of Bethlehem, Praying for each other, Developing a pen pal ministry, Engaging with ministry to elders.
PARTNERSHIP ACTIVITES AS OF AUGUST 2009:
$28,000.00 + in Scholarship Dollars has been sent from Congregations, Individuals and Sunday School Classes. The cost of one year of schooling at Dar Al Kalima School is $2,000.00, and families pay $750.00. A gift of $1250.00, affords schooling for a student for one year. The school has 250 students, K-12, with class size limited to 25. Creativity and creative response to conflict are important teaching tools in the school. Since 2006, construction of Dar Al Kalima College has begun. The Bethlehem Travelers of 2009 will have the opportunity to follow the progress of this additional work. You can also follow it at: www.annadwa.org.
TEACHING/LEARNING ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF BETHLEHEM
Rana Khoury, staff person of the International Center of Bethlehem traveled throughout the Presbytery in November 2008. Rana had the opportunity to speak in seven locations, telling the stories of the work in Bethlehem. Rana is Vice President for Development and Outreach for the International Center. Further, forty-five presentations have been made by the 2006 Bethlehem Travelers, telling of life and work in Bethlehem today.
Five batches of hearing aids have been sent to Bethlehem, reconnecting patients with the world around them. Peace Notes carried an article about this project, and the Mission Yearbook contains the story of this work. (May 19, 2009) As a result of these articles, hearing aids have arrived from California to Connecticut and from Florida to Oregon.
CHURCHES FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE
One of the 2006 Travelers participated in 2008 and 2009 gatherings of the Churches for Middle East Peace, in Washington, D.C.
A trip to Bethlehem , November 2-11, 2009, is a next partnering step. You can follow the travels on icbpartnership.wordpress.com. More information available from Jo Lucas, firstname.lastname@example.org.