Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land
and the Local Church in the Holy Land Conference
Which Theological Thought for which Future
Bethlehem Hotel - Bethlehem
The 16th session of the conference began officially Thursday evening 16th of January 2009 at 4:00 p. m. at the Bethlehem Hotel in Bethlehem. Leading religious and lay people from Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Galilee including the Mayor of Beit Jala, Engineer Raji Zaydan, and government officials attended the opening ceremonies. Biblical meditations and prayers by Melkite Fr. Ya'qub Abu Sa'da and Al-Liqa's Board member, Mr. Lawrence Sammour, inaugurated the ceremonies. H. B. Patriarch Fuad Twal , the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, H. E. Bishop Mar Sewirius Malki Murad of the Syrian Orthodox Church, H. E. Bishop Suhail Diwani of the Anglicanl Church and Dr. Geries S. Khoury, Director of Al-Liqa' gave the opening speeches stressing Muslim Christian unity, past and present, in the face of Israel’s savage aggression against the people of the Gaza Strip. Present internal divisions among Palestinians, are to a great degree, responsible for the present disaster in the Gaza Strip.
Following a coffee and tea break, a major lecture on past and present local theological movements in the Holy Land was given by Rev. Dr. Mitri Rahib. Rev. Fr. Joseph Saghbini of the Melkite Church moderated the lecture. An in depth questions, clarifications and answers followed.
On the morning of 17th of January, the session began with mediation and reflections by Fr. Dr. Ibrahim Shomali. He was followed by a major lecture on "New Christian thought for a new era and the pastoral letters of the Oriental Catholic patriarchs" by Fr. Dr. Rafiq Khoury. This morning session which was received warmly by listeners was moderated by Dr. Sharli Abu Sa’da of Beit Sahur. Many questions and discussions followed.
Following a coffee break, Fr. Dr. Jamal Khader, whose lecture on "Palestinian challenges facing local theological thought", was moderated by Mr. Elias Makhoul of Galillee, received the attention of listeners who posed many questions and asked for clarifications by the lecturer.
Following lunch and a break that lasted until 4:00 p. m., Rev. Dr. Hanna Katanacho spoke on" Theology of last days and the Palestinians", a topic that was moderated by Al-Liqa’s Board member, Mrs. Hanadi Soudah. Indepth questions, answers and clarifications followed.
Mrs. Sima Ghawali, a friend of Al-Liqa’ Center, led a study group about topics covered in the 2- day conference: Participants expressed their concerns, worries and recommendations which were recorded by Dr. Geries S. Khoury.
On Sunday, the 18th of January, the morning session began with Biblical mediation and reflections by Mr. ‘Amer El-Baba from Galillee. He was followed by a creative lecture, by Fr. Dr. Peter Dubrul, which was moderated by Al-Liqa’ Board member, Dr. Adnan Musallam. The lecture focused creatively on a viable and feelings oriented "Christmas narrative that must be presented to the Palestinians and society in large".
The lecture was followed with a coffee break after which a panel was held and included noted personalities like H. B. Patriarch Sabbah, H. E. Archbishop Elias Chacour, Dr. Bernard Sabella and Mr. Rif’at Qassis. The panel was moderated by Mr.Ziad Shlewet. Each speaker focused on the future of Arab Christians in the Holy Land stressing in the process the need for Christians to be an integral part of Palestinian society. Mr. Qassis, in addition, also focused on a field survey of Christians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which gave the panel further indepth and insight.
Following questions, clarifications and reflections by panel members, Dr. Geries S. Khoury read the final communiqué of the conference. And the three day conference came to an end which was concluded with a dinner for all those attending the conference.