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In light of what the Patriarchate of Jerusalem calls the “general atmosphere” prevalent in the Holy Land, the Municipality of Bethlehem has decided that it will go forward with a schedule of planned events to mark the start of Advent, but with some changes. There will be no lighting a Christmas tree in Manger Square, launching fireworks and sharing a traditional meal. Decorations will be fewer and scheduled concerts will not take place.
Instead, on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 PM (12:30 PM, EST) all of the world’s churches are encouraged to ring their bells, as a call to prayer for peace. Vera Baboun, the city’s mayor forcefully insisted that “Bethlehem remains the city of peace…as we approach Christmas we should pray like never before for peace.”
“All the churches in the world” are invited to take part in this call for prayer, by ringing their bells. Those churches planning to do so can alert Bethlehem to their solidarity at firstname.lastname@example.org and are asked to include the following:
- Full name and address of the church
- A hi-def image of the exterior
- A mobile phone number, in order to receive a message when the bells are rung