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Communities in Israel - Part III

The protestant communities in the Middle East date only from the early 19th century and the Western missionary’re-discovery' of the Holy Land. The intention of these missions was to evangelise the majority Muslim and Jewish communities, but their only success was in attracting Arabic- speaking Orthodox faithful.​

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Baptism in the Jordan River

The Protestant Churches

The protestant communities in the Middle East date only from the early 19th century and the Western missionary’re-discovery' of the Holy Land. The intention of these missions was to evangelise the majority Muslim and Jewish communities, but their only success was in attracting Arabic- speaking Orthodox faithful.


The Jerusalem Bishopric of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East (Anglican) was founded in 1841 and became an Archbishopric in 1957. In January 1976 significant changes were made to mark the end of the archbishopric and the creation of a new diocese and province in Jerusalem and the Middle East, with the election and consecration of the first Arab bishop. There are some 2,000 Anglicans in the diocese, making it the largest Protestant community in the Holy Land. In Israel, small Anglican communities exist in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, kfar Yasif, Lod, Ramle, Usiffeya and Nazareth. The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem has his seat in the Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr in Jerusalem.


The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East was founded in 1906. In 1946 it was recognized in Jordan as an independent Church; in 1966 the Episcopal Church Israel trust was established in Israel- an autonomous body of non-Arab Anglicans. It maintains centers and churches in Jaffa, Ussifiya, Herzliya Pituakh and Jerusalem.


Latrun Monastery ​The roots of the Lutheran Church in the Holy Land date back to 1841, when the Queen of England and the Prussian king decided to establish a joint Protestant Bishopric in Jerusalem. In 1886, the English and the German parts separated. The German congregation attracted increasingly Arabic-speaking people. Since 1979, the Arabic- speaking congregations have had their own bishop, and both Churches exist independently of each other on the premises of the Propstei on Muristan Road in the Old City. The Arabic community numbers fewer than 500, and the German about 200.


German Lutheran property, which had been confiscated by the British in 1939, was purchased by the government of Israel in 1951 as part of the reparations agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany.


In 1982, the Norwegian Mission to Israel transferred authority and administration of its two mission churches in Haifa and Jaffa to the responsibility of the local congregations.


The Baptist Church in the Holy land began with the formation of a congregation in Nazareth in 1911. Today the Association of Baptist Churches has a number of churches in Israel- in Acre, Ashqelon, Cana, Haifa, Herzliya, Eilabun, jaffa Jerusalem, Kfar Yasif, Nazareth, Netanya, Petakh Tikva, Rama Tur'an and Yafia. It also maintains a centre in Tel Aviv. The community numbers about 1,000 in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


The Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) sent out its first mission to the Galilee in 1840, and for the next 100 years was actively engaged in the fields of education and medicine. Today a small, mostly expatriate community, serving pilgrims and visitors, the Church of Scotland maintains a church and hospice in both Jerusalem and Tiberias. The independent Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society maintains a teaching hospital for nurses in Nazareth. 

Mount of Beatitudes The Church of God (Pentecostal) maintains a small community in Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Palestinian Authority, with an International Centre on the Mount of Olives. A number of Pentecostal Churches are active in Israel. These include the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, the Church of God Prophecy, the Cornerstone and the Voice of Healing (Christ to Nations).


Three Protestant communal agricultural settlements have been established in different parts of Israel in recent years. Kfar Habaptistim (Baptists' Village), north of Petakh Tikvah, was founded in 1955, and besides farming provides conference and summer camp facilities for the Baptist and other protestant communities in the country. Nes Amim, near Nahariya, was founded by a group of Dutch and German Protestant communities in the country. Nes Amim, near Nahariya, was founded by a group of Dutch and German Protestants in 1963, as an international centre for the promotion of Christian understanding of Israel.

Just west of Jerusalem, Yad Hashmonah, founded in 1971, operates a guesthouse for Christian visitors and pilgrims from Finland.

In addition to those already mentioned, there are any number of other, numerically small, Protestant denominational groups present in Israel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) established a small community in Haifa in 1886 and in Jerusalem in 1972. Menbership of the Church in Israel today numbers almost 200, with an additional 170 students of the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies- a branch of Brigham Young University of Provo, Utah (USA).The International Christian support for Israel and for Jerusalem as its eternal capital. It is a centre where Christians from all over the world cam gain a biblical understanding of the country and of Israel as a modern nation. The ICEJ international network includes offices and representatives in scores of countries worldwide.


Freedom of Religion

The basic attitude of the state toward religious pluralism found expression in Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence:

The State of Israel…will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the Prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture…

The document "expresses the nation's vision and its credo" and adherence to these principles has been assured by law. Each religious community is free to exercise its faith, to observe its own holy days and weekly day of rest, and to administer its own internal affairs.

Room of the Last Supper Holy Places 


Israel has many sites which are considered holy by the three Monotheistic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Freedom of access and worship is ensured at all of them.

"The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of members of the various religions to the places sacred to them, or their feelings with regard to those places"/(Protection of Holy Places Law. 1967).


Communal Autonomy

By their own volition, the Christian communities have remained the most autonomous of the various religious communities in the country. In recent years, however, there has been an increasing tendency on the part of Christian communities to integrate their social welfare, medical and educational institutions into state structures, without in any way compromising their traditional independence.


Though responsible for meeting the ritual needs of all communities, the Ministry of Religious Affairs deliberately refrains from interfering in the religious life of the Christian communities. The Ministry's Department for Christian Communities serves as a liaison office with the governmental system to which the Christian communities can turn with problems and requests that may arise out of their situation as minorities in the established status quo in those holy places where more than one Christian community has rights and privileges.


"Recognised" Communities 

Certain Christian denominations have the status of being a "recognised" religious community. For historical reasons dating from Ottoman times, the ecclesiastical courts of such communities are granted jurisdiction in matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce.

Currently, the "recognised" Christian communities are the Greek Orthodox, the (Melkite) Greek Catholic, the Latin, the Armenian Orthodox, the Syrian Catholic, the Chaldean Catholic, the Maronite, the Syrian Orthodox, the Armenian Catholic.


Communities in Israel - Part I


Communities in Israel - Part II




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