The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine removed from the WHC list of “World Heritage in Danger”

Wedns­day, July 10, 2019

The World Her­itage Com­mit­tee (WHC) held its 43rd ses­sion in Baku, Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan, from the 30th June until the 10th of July 2019. Each year, the Unit­ed Nations’ Inter­na­tion­al Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Nature (IUCN) experts attend the annu­al ses­sion of the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee, and make rec­om­men­da­tions on all mat­ters relat­ed to nat­ur­al World Her­itage. The Com­mit­tee dis­cuss­es and makes deci­sions based on these recommendations. 

The IUCN announced on Tues­day that it was remov­ing the Birth­place of Jesus Christ — The Church of the Nativ­i­ty and the Pil­grim­age Route, from its List of World Her­itage in Dan­ger due to the exten­sive restora­tive works which were com­plet­ed on Bethlehem’s Nativ­i­ty Church, in Pales­tine dur­ing the past 6 years.

The Pres­i­den­tial Com­mit­tee for the Restora­tion of the Church of the Nativ­i­ty was estab­lished in 2008 to car­ry out a restora­tion pro­gram. An inter­na­tion­al bid for the assess­ment study and the estab­lish­ment of the restora­tion pro­gram was launched in August 2009 and the con­tract was award­ed to an inter­na­tion­al con­sor­tium of Ital­ian uni­ver­si­ties and research cen­ters (the uni­ver­si­ties of Fer­rara, Siena, Roma-La Sapien­za and Naples; and CNR-Ival­sa) led by CFR-Italy and sup­port­ed local­ly by the Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment Group (CDG), Bethlehem. 

Fol­low­ing the pro­gram launch, the late Mr. Said Khoury, Co-Founder of Con­sol­i­dat­ed Con­trac­tors Com­pa­ny (CCC) and founder of the Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion (BDF), spear­head­ed the efforts and was the first to fund the need­ed stud­ies for these restora­tions in 2011. 

In 2011 the late Mr. Said Khoury launched the Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive with the aim to trans­form Beth­le­hem and sur­round­ing area into a vibrant inter­na­tion­al spir­i­tu­al des­ti­na­tion. To imple­ment this vision, a group of Inter­na­tion­al and Pales­tin­ian phil­an­thropists estab­lished the Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion (BDF) as a non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion in May 2012. BDF’s mis­sion is to cre­ate a sus­tain­able econ­o­my and infra­struc­ture for Beth­le­hem, and to enable the Holy City to sparkle as a peace­ful bea­con and unique spir­i­tu­al cen­ter of the world for pil­grims of all faiths. 

BDF Board of Trustees is now chaired by Mr. Said Khoury’s Samer Khoury. 

In 2013 and beyond, BDF was able to secure a gen­er­ous dona­tion of $1M from the Arab Fund for Eco­nom­ic and Social Devel­op­ment to fund the restora­tion of the exter­nal facades and inter­nal plaster. 

Mr. Samer Khoury estab­lished the Amer­i­can Friends of the Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion (AFBDF) was estab­lished in Novem­ber. AFBDF was for­mal­ly launched in a gala din­ner at the Willards Inter­con­ti­nen­tal in Wash­ing­ton DC in Feb­ru­ary 2018 as an Amer­i­can non-prof­it to sup­port the efforts of BDF. AFBDF seeks to estab­lish finan­cial assis­tance, grass­roots sup­port, and recog­ni­tion for the devel­op­ment of the city of Beth­le­hem. Two fundrais­ing events took place in New York City on the 10th of Octo­ber, 2018 at the New York Ath­let­ic Club and a din­ner was host­ed in Hous­ton on the 8th of Octo­ber, 2018 at the Post Oak Hotel. 

Since the com­mence­ment of the restora­tion works in 2017, AFBDF man­aged to secure a grant from the Lev­ant Foun­da­tion in 2018. The Foun­da­tion have agreed to adopt the restora­tion of 11 out of a total of 50 Corinthi­an columns in the cen­tral nave of the Church. AFBDF man­aged to secure fund­ing close to $1M from the USA and Chile which enabled the com­ple­tion of restora­tion works.

BDF also held a fundrais­ing char­i­ty event on the evening of Tues­day, the 11th of Decem­ber 2018, at the Palaz­zo del­la Rovere in the Vat­i­can, head­quar­ters of the Order of the Holy Sep­ul­cher, under the patron­age of Car­di­nal Leonar­do San­dri — Pre­fect of the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Ori­en­tal Church­es and Patron of the Vat­i­can fundrais­ing event, to present the sta­tus of the restora­tion works of the Nativ­i­ty Church in Bethlehem. 

A total of 30 gov­ern­ments, reli­gious insti­tu­tions and pri­vate groups have helped finance the ren­o­va­tions. Proud­ly, CCC, BDF and AFBDF joined a long list of donors form all over the world who made this project hap­pen. Final­ly, vis­i­tors are able to once again admire mosaics that have been hid­den from pub­lic view for hun­dreds of years.

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine removed from the WHC list of “World Heritage in Danger”

Wedns­day, July 10, 2019 The World Her­itage Com­mit­tee (WHC) held its 43rd ses­sion in Baku, Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan, from the 30th June until the 10th… 

Bethlehem Development Foundation received in the projects showcase room the Governor of Bethlehem

The Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion received in the projects show­case room the Gov­er­nor of Beth­le­hem, Mr. Kamel Hamid and the accompanying… 

Condolences to His Beatitude Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Theophilos III

The Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion, with its The Board of Trustees rep­re­sent­ed by its chair­man, Mr. Samer Khoury and its Board of Directors,… 

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Bethlehem Development Foundation (AFBDF), the Honorable Mr. George Salem visits the Church of Nativity

Tues­day, August 20, 2019 Chair­man of the Board of Direc­tors of the Amer­i­can Friends of the Beth­le­hem Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion (AFBDF), the… 

Bethlehem, Palestine | Le Trio Joubran Perform Christmas Concert in St. Francis Chapel at the Church of Nativity

On the 21st and the 22nd of Decem­ber 2019, Le Trio Joubran, three musi­cian broth­ers play­ing tra­di­tion­al Pales­tin­ian oud music, per­formed a… 

BDF Speech in Bethlehem Diaspora Convention Press Conference 2019

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BDF Stakeholders Lunch

On Octo­ber 1, 2019 Beth­le­hem Con­ven­tion Palace The Chair­man of the Board of Trustees Mr. Samer Khoury invit­ed BDF patrons, trustees, direc­tors and…