Anglican Presence in Bethlehem?

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“World Anglican Centre” could become first official presence in Jesus’ birth town Bethlehem

Posted on: February 26, 2019 7:22 PM

Archbishop Suheil Dawani discusses plans for a World Anglican Centre with the Mayor of Bethlehem, Anton Salman.Photo Credit: Diocese of JerusalemRelated Categories: Abp DawanibethlehemEcumenicalJerusalemLutheranMiddle EastPatriarch Theophilos IIIWorld Anglican Centre

An official Anglican presence could open in Bethlehem – the first in the Palestinian town which is the birthplace of Jesus. The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, met the Mayor of Bethlehem, Anton Salman, last Friday (22 February), to discuss plans for a World Anglican Centre. “Please keep its eventual construction in your prayers”, the Diocese of Jerusalem said on its website, adding: “there are still many obstacles to overcome.”

The Diocese in Jerusalem owns a property near Bethlehem’s Manger Square, off Milk Grotto Way; but has no churches in Bethlehem. “In the early years of our missionary partnership with the Lutheran Church, it was agreed that the Lutherans would minister in the areas south of Jerusalem, and the Anglicans in the north,” the Diocese said. “For this reason, the Diocese of Jerusalem currently does not have any ministries in Bethlehem. This planned Anglican Centre would be first.”

The Diocese of Jerusalem maintains close links with Churches in Bethlehem. On 24 December each year, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, offers the use of his private chapel in the Church of the Nativity to Bishop Suheil for an Anglican Christmas Eve service. Coach loads of worshippers leave St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem on Christmas Eve and travel in convoy with a number of western diplomats to the Church of the Nativity for the service; before heading back to St George’s for Midnight Mass.

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The Worldwide Anglican Communion has much more to celebrate than its openness to LGBTQI+ people among its constituents. This message from ACNS (Anglican Communion News Service) reminds us of our deep connection with the origins of our Founder, Jesus, in the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ where he was born.

Hitherto, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem has had to rely on the generous hospitality of the local Greek Patriarch in order to use his private chapel in the Bethlehem Church of The Nativity. This has allowed for Anglican pilgrims the privilege to worship there when they visit at Christmastide.

To have our own place of pilgrimage and worship in the Bethlehem environs will be a tremendous boon. so that this initiative should be welcomed by Anglicans from around the world.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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