Palestinian . . . Lutherans? To many American Christians following the conflict in the Holy Land, this moniker sounds as oxymoronic as the more general “Palestinian Christians.” American evangelical end-times buffs—and their number is legion—simply cannot admit, as they attempt to match daily news items with chapter and verse from Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, the fact that many Palestinians are not Muslims but fellow Christians. Some of these indigenous residents of the contested region—and their number is growing—even adhere to what Gene Edward Veith calls “the way of the first Evangelicals”: Lutheranism.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (and Palestine)—the ELCJ—traces its roots back to the 1898 founding of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jerusalem by German missionaries and Palestinian converts to Christianity. Located a mere hundred yards from the traditional site of Christ’s still-empty tomb, Redeemer is the seat of the ELCJ’s bishop, Munib A. Younan.
Overall, the ELCJ boasts 2,000 members in six congregations located in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beir Sahour, and Amman, Jordan. Each congregation has a school, and Jerusalem’s Redeemer Lutheran supports the Augusta Victoria Hospital, located on the Mount of Olives for over 50 years.
Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem...