ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 22, 2012
Palestinian Lutheran pastor to receive 'German Media Award'
CHICAGO (ELCA) - Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, will receive the German Media Prize award Feb. 24 for his work in founding educational, cultural and health care institutions and his commitment to inter-faith dialogue and peacemaking in the Middle East.
"Mitri Raheb is a pastor with passion in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Persistently working for a lasting, just peace in the Middle East, Pastor Raheb is a visionary leader who has created new pathways in the areas of education, employment and health care," said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
"This deserved recognition of Pastor Raheb is testimony to the global leadership shared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the ELCA remains committed to accompanying this partner church," he said.
The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church is one of six congregations of the 2,000-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. The denomination is the only Arabic-speaking Lutheran church in the world and the only indigenous Lutheran Church in the Middle East. The church and ELCA engage in ministry together in a variety of ways, and both are members of The Lutheran World Federation based in Geneva.
In 1988 Raheb became pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church and founded the International Center of Bethlehem in 1995. The center includes the Dar al-Kalima Health and Wellness Center, which focuses on general preventive medicine, community health awareness and psychological health issues associated with the current situation in Palestine.
Raheb also founded the Dar al-Kalima School and Academy in Bethlehem. Together with the International Center of Bethlehem, the school and academy have become the second largest private employer in the Bethlehem area.
The Mission Investment Fund, a financial ministry of the ELCA, provided a loan to support the construction of Dar al-Kalima College in Bethlehem. The loan is the Mission Investment Fund's first to an ELCA global partner.
According to Raheb, the college is an answer to the current shortage of higher education institutions in Palestine and "a beacon of hope for future generations." Raheb is president of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, a not-for-profit organization based in the United States that is instrumental in securing funding for the college.
"We wanted to contribute to empowering generations of Palestinians and help strengthen this vital ministry of the ELCA's companion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land," said Eva Roby, president and CEO of the Mission Investment Fund.
"The ELCA's relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is long-standing and deep, and we are proud to have relationships with each of the pastors in that church and to accompany them as they seek to respond to the needs of their context," said the Rev. Robert Smith, ELCA program director for the Middle East and North Africa and coordinator of the Peace Not Walls Campaign.
Born in Bethlehem, Raheb received his undergraduate degree in protestant theology from the Hermannsburg Mission Seminary in Germany and earned a master's degree and doctorate in theology at Philipps University Marburg there.
He has written numerous articles, essays and books that concentrate on inter-religious dialogue, contextual theology, church history, biblical interpretation and issues related to the civil society.
Raheb will receive the 2011 German Media Prize along with three others in Baden-Baden, Germany.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com