Daoud Nassar, director of Tent of Nations, an educational and environmental farm southwest of Bethlehem, reflected that the situation is difficult for many local Palestinian Christians, who might feel like a minority population.
But Jesus spoke to the minority, Nassar noted. “He was talking to a small minority that made a big difference,” he said.
Fr Issa Michael Thaljieh, parish priest of the Greek Orthodox Nativity Church in Bethlehem, said that, while people in Bethlehem may face social, spiritual or economic problems, the faithful people still make up the church.
“Without the faithful people, I am doing nothing,” he said.
Zoughbi Zoughbi, founder and director of Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center, said it is uplifting to talk about Christian unity despite all the challenges people in Bethlehem face.
“These are some of the difficulties we face,” he said, outlining some of those challenges, and expressed concern that people are leaving Bethlehem to go live in communities they believe have better opportunities.
Dn. Ashot Ghazaryan, secretary of the Armenian Theological Seminary of Jerusalem, agreed with Zoughbi that the diminishing population in Bethlehem is a great concern. “We see the people in number becoming smaller and smaller,” he said, yet in spite of this he still feels part of a large global body.
“All Christians are members of Christ’s body, and we can read in the Bible what Christ says,” he said.
Rev. Angleena Keizer, mission partner assigned to the Methodist Liaison Office Jerusalem and a resident of Bethlehem, shared her personal call to live in Bethlehem, despite the challenges.
“The important thing is, God calls and God sends, and he sends by his church,” she said.
Rev. Matthew A. Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, moderated the webinar, welcoming viewers from all over the world.