Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bay Area congregations help fund Dar al-Kalima college

Seeds for the Parish, the bi-monthly resource newsletter of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, features a story on Bethlehem's Dar al-Kalima College in its May-June edition. Find it on page 4 -

For more about Dar al-Kalima, see the website:

[From Seeds for the Parish]
Bay Area Lutheran congregations fund college in Bethlehem
What is happening this year in the little town of Bethlehem? Construction of a music room at Dar al-Kalima College. This music room is now fully funded, thanks to eight San Francisco Bay Area Lutheran congregations. These congre gations raised over $55,000 for Dar al-Kalima from a Middle Eastern dinner and auction. The funding of a music room was chosen because of the strong musical tradition of Lutheran congregations and colleges.

The Palestinian-theme gala, which was held on Sunday, November 8, 2009, featured authentic Middle Eastern music by the Georges Lammam Ensemble, and Palestinian food was provided by Dishdash Restaurant, whose proprietor grew up in a village only ten minutes from Bethlehem. The Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church of Bethlehem and founder of Dar al-Kalima College, was featured in a video message that was specially prepared for this event. The Rev. Herb Schmidt, former campus pastor of University Lutheran Church at Stanford, was the emcee and featured speaker, who drew upon his experience from having visited Palestine five times.

Why did this happen in the San Francisco Bay Area? Many former Palestinian families now live in the Bay Area, among them the Nijim family that worships at Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto. As a matter of fact, Fuad Nijim was a childhood schoolmate and friend of Rev. Raheb. Fuad was instrumental in bringing Rev. Raheb to preach and teach at Grace and other Lutheran churches in the Bay Area. Fuad, as president of the Association of Arab and Middle East Lutherans, serves on the board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA’s) Multicultural Ministries unit and the ELCA Church Council. Nader Ayad, a Palestinian by birth, is a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fremont. Through these relationships, Bay Area Lutherans have become aware of the harsh conditions in occupied Palestine and wanted to do something positive to offer hope to their Christian sisters and brothers there and all of the people of Palestine.

What offers more hope than educating the young? (57 percent of Palestinians are under the age of 19.) Dar al-Kalima College enrolls young people of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths. At a time when Palestine’s youth lack real options for a better future, this college enables the next generation to realize its potential through educational excellence. Dar al-Kalima is the first college in the Middle East to offer advanced training in the arts, multimedia, communications and tourism-related studies. The college also provides a vital accredited resource for higher education in non-traditional disciplines.

Like a city on the mountain, the college on Mt. Murair is visible from every point in Bethlehem, serving as a beacon of hope and a promise of a brighter future for Palestine. View the capital campaign video at

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