This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

The History of Christmas Lutheran Church

Christmas Lutheran Church stands as part of that on going witness and proclamation of the Christian faith. It is the oldest Lutheran Church in Palestine, started in 1854 by German missionaries. Today, it is one of the 6 Lutheran Churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.  Our congregation has about 200 Palestinian Christian members, as well as a few internationals. Our primary worship language is Arabic, the language of our people.

The Church itself was built 1886-1893. Unique in the architecture is the shape of the tower reflecting the typical Bethlehemite woman’s hat of the 19th century. The 14 stained glass windows are original. The three in the center tell the Christmas story, as this is Christmas Church. The 3 in the left apse show the life of Christ until his baptism. The flight to Egypt, portraying Jesus and his family as refugees, has been a powerful image for this congregation, 2/3 of who are refugees themselves. The three windows on the right portray the passion and resurrection, with the crucifixion in the center. The remaining windows in the main apse are related to Bethlehem’s biblical history and landscape.

Since all the writing on the windows is in German, the copula was painted about twenty years ago with Arabic calligraphy: “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men.”   The organ, manufactured originally in Berlin around 1890, was rebuilt for the 2000 Millennium celebration here in Bethlehem through a fundraising campaign led by  our partner church, the Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.