Bethlehem Unwrapped is a collaboration between St James’s Church, Piccadilly, and a creative team led by artistic director Justin Butcher, working with Amos Trust, Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Interpal, ICAHD UK, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, P21 Gallery,Tipping Point North South, War on Want and Zaytoun CIC plus generous support from Ottolenghi, Fairtrade Parcel by Parcel wine, Treatment Studio/Third Company and XL Video.
“St James’s Church Piccadilly is delighted to be hosting this festival. The whole Church Council joins me in welcoming artists, musicians, speakers and visitors to St James’s over the twelve days of Christmas. Twenty members of the church visited the Holy Land in October of this year and the positive and hopeful programme reflects the aspirations of the inspiring Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers we met there. At Christmas, when we will be singing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, we are glad to be in solidarity with the people of Bethlehem by celebrating the culture of the land that Jews, Muslims and Christians all call holy.”
Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s
Messages of support for Bethlehem Unwrapped
‘Many congratulations to you on organising Bethlehem Unwrapped. It is an excellent initiative which both celebrates the special time that is Christmas and reminds us all that the place where it all started – Bethlehem – remains choked by occupation. I was in Palestine just two weeks ago and was one of those snowed in for a day by the astonishing blizzard that hit the Middle East at that time. For me and the other members of my group in a comfortable East Jerusalem hotel, the weather was part inconvenient for our programme and part a uniquely picturesque setting for the Old City. Just a few miles away though, the picture could not have been more different and our thoughts turned to two places that we had visited just a couple of days earlier First to the Jordan Valley where 41 people had their homes or workplaces demolished by the Israel army even as snow was being forecast as imminent. And second to the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills. Today Susiya is a collection of reinforced tents following the demolition of the original village a few years ago. Even the tents remain under constant threat of demolition as the nearby Israeli settlement bloc looks to expand the land it controls. It was bitterly cold even before the snows came. One could only imagine what it Susiya must have been like once the blizzard started. We owe it to the people of Susiya, of the Jordan Valley, of Bethlehem and across the West Bank and Gaza, to keep the question of Palestine on the international agenda and to press for a just peace, not simply a never ending peace process as occupation and blockade continue. Bethlehem Unwrapped helps shine a spotlight on that so please express my thanks to all involved.’
Richard Burden MP, Chair, Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group
‘Please accept my warmest and best wishes for the success of your Bethlehem Festival this year. It is greatly needed to highlight how Bethlehem is surrounded by high walls, and the plight of the remaining Christian population of Jerusalem and the West Bank.’
“I believe it is particularly appropriate, given the enduring and historic Christian presence among Palestinians, that the churches in Britain and elsewhere should stand with others in calling for justice – at last – for the Palestinian people.”
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP
About KAIROS PALESTINE
In December 2009, the leaders of the united churches of the Holy Land issued the historic “Kairos Palestine” document, modelled on the Kairos document sent out from the churches of South Africa during the apartheid era. “Kairos” is a New Testament Greek word meaning “The moment for change” or “the moment of grace” or “the time for action”. They describe the Kairos document as “A cry of hope in the absence of all hope” – calling out to Christian churches, as well as other faith communities, across the world: “Are you able to help us get our freedom back?” In response, the “Kairos Britain” call was launched in August 2013, by a group of individuals and organisations drawn from many Christian denominations in the UK, calling on their churches across the country to stand in solidarity with the churches of the Holy Land and to respond to their call.
An approved, abridged version of the 2009 Kairos document can be read at: