On Wednesday, June 24 at 7 p.m., Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, senior pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, and founder and president of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, visits Mountain View Lutheran Church of Edgewood (3607A 122nd Ave. E.). Rev. Raheb has a great story to tell about the Christian faith that is being lived out by Palestinians in the midst of their Muslim “siblings” and surrounded by their Jewish “cousins.” This a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of Pierce County to discover more about the Holy Land and its people from a Palestinian pastor serving at the only Lutheran church in the Occupied Territories.
Rev. John L. Vaswig, senior pastor of Mountain View Lutheran Church, has made three visits to the Holy Land – with a grant from Candler Theological Seminary in April 2006, with World Vision in May 2013, and, most recently, with Bright Stars of Bethlehem in March 2015. Pastor Vaswig first met Pastor Raheb during his 2006 trip, where he learned of the work that Bright Stars of Bethlehem was doing in the Occupied Territories – providing educational opportunities for people of all ages living on the West Bank. Upon his return to his own congregation, and after teaching a series of adult education classes about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Pastor Vaswig encouraged the leadership of Mountain View Lutheran Church to financially support the vital work of Bright Stars of Bethlehem with an annual benevolence.
During Pastor Vaswig’s 2015 trip, he once again had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Raheb and invited him to visit Mountain View Lutheran Church. Pastor Raheb agreed to do so, in order to come and speak to the people of the congregation and the community-at-large about his belief that “Peace in the Holy Land must be the mandate for all of us. We cannot abandon responsibility for our fellow human beings. Engaged responsibility belongs to mature citizens and is crucial for a civil society to function and thrive.” (page 125, “Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes” by Mitri Raheb).
Mountain View Lutheran Church invites everyone to come and hear words of inspiration and imagination, of peace and hope, from someone living a life of faith in the midst of the Israeli occupation of Bethlehem.