Dr. Mitri Raheb at the SWCA Synod

Left to right – Beth Nelson Chase, Bright Stars of Bethehem Executive Director; Bishop Guy Erwin; Dr. Mitri Raheb; Bishop Dean Nelson, SWCA Synod Middle East Peace Task Force.

The Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb, Pastor Emeritus at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Director of the Dar al-Kalima College of Culture and the Arts in Bethlehem, and founder of Bright Stars in Bethlehem, a non-profit organization providing funding and support to the initiatives of the Diyar Consortium (a Lutheran-based, ecumenically-oriented organization serving the whole Palestinian community) spoke at the Lutheran Center in Glendale on November 1. With the sponsorship of the SWCA Synod Justice Team and Bright Stars of Bethlehem, Dr. Raheb has been offering an illuminating  look into the life of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank throughout the synod this first week of November.

With the focus on observing this year’s Reformation anniversary, Dr. Raheb points out, it’s important to remember that Christianity did not start 500 years ago in Wittenberg, but 2,000 years ago in an occupied Palestine, and that Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into the vernacular was not only a way to ensure that people could hear the Gospel in their own language, but was an act of resistance against empire.

Dr. Raheb, whose books include Faith in the Face of Empire and I am a Palestine Christian, introduced his newest book, The Cross in its Context, which explores the meaning of the cross – the heart of Reformation – in light of both first and twenty-first century Palestinian contexts. He recommends The Cross in its Context, co-written with New Testament scholar Suzanne Watts Henderson, as a Bible Study for churches seeking to explore the redemptive potential of the cross for the marginalized and the powerless. Beth Nelson Chase, Bright Stars of Bethlehem Executive Director, was also present to give an update on the organization’s work with Dar al-Kalima College.

“We’re so happy to partner with Bright Stars of Bethlehem to bring Dr. Raheb to our Southwest California Synod,” said Bishop Emeritus Dean Nelson, chair of the Middle East Task Force. “His work at Dar al Kalima College is a real sign of hope in a situation that many regard as utterly hopeless. His emphasis on the power of the arts to transform lives and societies is especially insightful, and his theological reflections about the meaning of the cross in its first and twenty-first century contexts is an important development and supplement to traditional theologies of the atonement.”

A recording of the live stream of Dr. Raheb’s talk November 1, 2017 at Cal Lutheran is available here.

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