Church of Hope--Ramallah
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah
The Church of Hope was founded in 1954 in response to the stated need of refugees evicted from their home during the Nakba. Lutherans new to Ramallah came together with the joint dream of building a church and a community.
Worship services are held each Sunday morning at 10:30 am, with Sunday School at 9:30 am in the parish hall. Even during times of curfew imposed by the Israeli military, the church bells of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope have continued to ring out, announcing worship and time for prayer.
The spirit of ecumenism is very much alive here in Ramallah, where Christians from Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches celebrate the same church calendar together by using the Orthodox Easter calendar and the Western Christmas calendar.
Over the years, more and more ecumenical relationships have been established in Ramallah.
Today, the five major Christian churches are joined in an ecumenical fellowship, partnering in worship, education, community projects, and social activities. The pastors and priests in this ecumenical grouping meet together often.
The Lutheran Church of Hope congregation has about ninety-two Palestinian families (about 430 baptized members), nearly all of whom are refugees. Only two women in the congregation are descendants of the original founders of the congregation in Ramallah; the others have come to Ramallah as refugees during the 1948-49 war, primarily from Jaffa, Ramle and Lod. They have established themselves in businesses and homes in the Ramallah area but always remember their towns of origin. Rev. Rodny Said serves as pastor to this congregation.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah was founded in 1954. Graduates of the Schneller Lutheran School and of the Lutheran School of Talitha Kumi who resided in Ramallah requested that a Lutheran church be established there. Also living in Ramallah were Lutherans who had taken refuge there after the war in 1948-49. Thirty-eight families were charter members of the congregation. The specific request for a Lutheran church in Ramallah was made to the heads of the church in Jerusalem. The Rev. Daoud Haddad, pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem (later to become the first Bishop of the ELCJHL), came for two years to conduct worship services on Sunday afternoons. These services were held first in the Ramallah Quaker meeting house and then in St. Andrew Episcopal Church. When the Rev. Bassem Nijim was called to serve the new Lutheran congregation in 1956, a house was rented to be a center for religious services and parish activities. The congregation was already raising money to build a new church building and a parsonage. The hope for a Lutheran school was also primary in the minds of the people.
Land was purchased and the parsonage was built in 1961. The new congregation laid the cornerstone for the church building in 1961 and the building was completed and dedicated in 1963. Pastor Nijim and the congregation were determined to establish a school to be connected to the Lutheran Church of Hope. In 1965, they founded a kindergarten with ten students and two teachers. Each year after that, classes were added. By 1975 a two-story school building had been constructed on a piece of land adjacent to the church teaching children from kindergarten through 9th grade. A third story was added in 1982, expanding the school to a full K-12 enrollment.
Pastor Nijim died in 1983, leaving a legacy of congregational and educational work in the Lutheran Church in Ramallah. His two daughters continue to live in the Ramallah and Jerusalem area. His wife and two sons are in California, USA.
The next pastor to serve the Lutheran Church of Hope was the Rev. Munib Younan, who today is the Bishop Emeritus of the ELCJHL. He was the pastor in Ramallah from 1984 until his consecration as bishop in 1998. The Rev. Ramez Ansara was the next pastor, having been ordained in the Lutheran Church of Hope by Bishop Emeritus Younan in 1999. Rev. Saliba Rishmawi was installed as pastor in March 2010. The Rev. Imad Haddad was ordained on March 2, 2008 and installed as the pastor of the Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah on September 1, 2012. In 2020, Pastor Rodny Said was ordained in the summer of 2020, and was installed as the current pastor of the Church of Hope during the fall of 2020, and continues to serve there to this day.
Sundays at 10:30am.
Reverend Rodny Said