Festival event aims to build UK-Palestinian Christian links

By staff writers
November 4, 2009

Public figures, scholars and peacemakers are among those speaking and performing at a celebration in London which aims to connect Palestinian Christians with those in the UK.

More than 20 organisations - including Amnesty International, Olive Aid, the Jerusalem Eye Hospital and Bethlehem University - will be exhibiting at the ‘Hope for the Holy Land’ festival at Holy Apostles church hall near Victoria Station on 28-29 November 2009.

Organisers say the festival - which coincides with the season of Advent - will include talks, films, exhibits, musical performances and children’s games, and a cafe serving Palestinian delicacies, as well as opportunities to buy Christmas presents of olive wood crafts, wine, oil, soaps and cards.

Performers are due to include the British Palestinian singer and broadcaster Reem Kelani, who sets traditional Palestinian poets to music.

John Pontifex (Aid to the Church in Need) and Richard Jones (Bible Lands) will speak on the challenges facing Christians in the Holy Land, while Pat Gaffney (Pax Christi), the veteran peace and justice campaigner Bruce Kent, Colin Breed MP (Council for Arab-British Understanding) and the Rev Nadim Nassar (Awareness Foundation) are among those identifying paths to peace in the region.

Two films dramatising the plight of Bethlehem will be shown, one by filmmaker Leila Sansour (Open Bethlehem), the other by the Anglican vicar and Jerusalem cathedral canon, Garth Hewitt (Amos Trust).

The festival’s organiser, Della Shenton of 5th Gospel Retreats, said: “This is the first event of its kind – a weekend celebration of Palestinian Christianity and culture which aims to connect the Church in the UK with the beleaguered people of the Holy Land”.

5th Gospel Retreats was set up in 2006 in solidarity with Palestinian Christians and those working for justice and peace in the Holy Land.

“The 'Hope for the Holy Land' event is about bringing together people of faith to overcome the isolation felt by Christians in the area," Shenton declared.

She added: “It’s about keeping the connections and the solidarity alive, and keeping the flame of Advent burning to light our way to peace.”

The full programme, location details, a poster and more information is available at: http://www.h4hl.org

Entry to the event will be free.

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