December 20, 2009.

Dear Friends,

On December 20, 2009 Badaliya Prayer members will welcome Dr. Maria Khoury, a Harvard University graduate from Taybeh, Palestine, at the 11 am Mass at St. Paul's Church in Cambridge MA. Following the Mass, Dr Khoury will join us for coffee hour in the Harvard University Catholic Student Center.

Dr. Khoury, author of Witness in the Holy Land, will share her experiences of living and raising a famly in the oldest and only Christian village in the Palestinian territories in the Holy Land. Dr Khoury graduated from Hellenic College in 1982, from Harvard University in 1985, and from Boston University in 1992 with a Ph.D. in Education. Born in Tripoli, Greece, she was raised in Denver, Colorado. Her articles have been published world-wide in numerous newspapers and magazines and have been translated into various languages in an effort to increase awareness of the presence of Christians in the Holy Land and of the difficulties they face.

Dr. Khoury is a volunteer at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Taybeh, Palestine, as a fundraiser for a housing project to help sustain the small Christian community. She has also spent three years training teachers in new classroom strategies in the Latin Patriarchate Schools throughout Palestine. She served as the only female principal at the Friends Boys School of Ramallah in 1996 and worked closely with church leaders in Jerusalem as a consultant for the World Council of Churches in 2004. She also headed the project to establish the International Academy of Art-Palestine in 2007. She serves on the Advisory Council of World Vision Jerusalem and the Taybeh Education Fund which she founded as an endowment to help students with tuition in local colleges in Palestine. She was a speaker at the International Bishops' Conference at Bethlehem University in January of 2004, and at over 100 churches throughout the United States. She was the keynote speaker for the 2008 Orthodox Institute. Dr. Maria Khoury has organized five successful village festivals in Palestine, called Taybeh Oktoberfest, which was initiated in 2005 to boost the local economy that suffers from 50% unemployment, and as a means to non-violent action and peaceful resistance.

The Khourys returned to the Holy Land in 1995 following the Oslo Peace Agreement and boosted the economy with an investment in a microbrewery producing the one and only Palestinian beer, "Taybeh Beer". In 2001 they diversified to help farmers in fair trade bottling of Taybeh Olive Oil. Dr. Khoury writes children's books promoting ancient Christian values, centuries-old traditions, and spiritual growth as part of the "Christina Book Series," which is published in Jerusalem.

In May many of us were able to visit the Latin Church in Taybeh, called "Christ the King" and were welcomed by Father Raed Abusahlia who has worked closely with Dr. Khoury. Dr. Khoury and her husband's choice to return to this small village in an effort to help the Christian community to survive there is an example for members of the Badaliya of the strength of Christian faith that calls us all to be bearers of Christ's message of hope and love for all of humanity, especially for the poorest among us.

As Christians everywhere prepare to celebrate anew the birth of Christ may we as Badaliya give birth to His love in our hearts and offer God's Peace to all our Muslim, Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters. May our Peace Dove Lamp from Taybeh, Palestine be a reminder of the Light that shines forth in our own darkest moments and of the hope that our friends in Taybeh have shared with us through their lived experience.

A Blessed Christmas Season and Peace to you.