An illustrative photo of the new headquarters of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: SUPPLIED/THE FELLOWSHIP)
Judging by aesthetics alone, the new headquarters for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews will be an architectural wonder. Four of Israel’s most acclaimed architecture firms competed to win the contract to build the 10,000 sq.m., seven-floor structure, which will cost approximately $60 million.
But the new building is far more than bricks and mortar. With its constant flow of water from one edge of the building to the other, massive glass windows and open spaces, the warm and inviting structure is the organization’s way of telling the Christian world: come on in, this is your spiritual home.
“This center is not a Fellowship museum, but a building for Christians to visit physically and virtually that will help them deepen their spiritual roots in the Holy Land. We want them to become equipped to go back to their homes and be Israel’s goodwill ambassadors all over the world,” said Fellowship Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein.
The building is also the Fellowship’s way of investing in the next generation of Christians who, as a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests, are less supportive of Israel than their parents are.
“It is critical that we invest in the next generation of Christians and build programs around the world that address them, in churches, Christian colleges and seminaries.”
“The Fellowship was instrumental in changing Christian attitudes toward Israel to the point that today, being an Evangelical Christian is synonymous with being pro-Israel. But what we are seeing is that it is not a given for the next generation.”
“The next generation did not witness the miracle of Israel being established or even learn about the Holocaust and antisemitism. They were raised on the narrative that Israel is the aggressor and oppresses the Palestinians,” she lamented.
The new headquarters will not only be the global center of the Fellowship but a source for strengthening Christian bonds with Israel and the Jewish people. And it will not only be a home for the millions of Evangelical Christians in the US but for Christians worldwide. It will be a boon to Israel’s tourism industry and an attraction they will want to visit.
“Over one million Christians today visit Israel each year. That number is only growing – from China, Korea, the Far East, Brazil and South America – the potential is huge, which is why it is critical that we create long-lasting relationships for Christians with Israel, so that they can go back and become goodwill ambassadors for her.”
The building intends to serve both Christians and Jews, so the former can get in touch with their ties to Israel, while the latter will learn more about the Evangelical Christian community and their devotion to our country.
Symbolically, the new headquarters is also strategically located for both Christians and Jews. “We’re located a block away from the new US Embassy, which is very symbolic – equidistant between the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, and Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus,” Eckstein explained.
Visitors to the building will learn about IFCJ initiatives and partake in pro-Israel programming. The Fellowship also plans to bring Christians from seminaries and colleges who have little to no knowledge about Israel, so that they can discover the true story behind the Jewish state – not the pro-BDS narrative lingering on many campuses in the United States.
In addition, since many Christian visitors want to “give back” to the country and help the people of Israel too, the building will provide volunteer opportunities. For example, visitors will be able to pack food packages for Holocaust survivors, sort clothes to be donated to the needy, and much more.
For 35 years, the Fellowship has been building bridges between Christians and Jews to strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. The new headquarters in Jerusalem will be the keystone that unites the organization’s Christian and Jewish supporters, while being a center for its international activities. The Fellowship expects the new headquarters to be completed by 2022.
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