Michel Sabbah's Letter to Parishioners on behalf of Baptism Church
Sons of the Beloved Jordan,
Sacred is this land we live on and blessed are its people for it is the land where Jesus Christ walked and preached and from where the Prophet Elijah ascended to Heaven. John the Baptist roamed its wilderness, Jesus Christ came here to ’Bethany across the Jordan’ to be baptized by John, and the Holy Spirit came upon him. It is the land from where Jesus Christ started his discipleship calling for love, faith, hope and peace among mankind.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, through the Vicariate in Jordan, has sought for the last ten years to build a church at the Holy site of Bethany across the Jordan. However, the Vicariate had no land on the shores of the River Jordan where it could establish a presence. However, the Board of Trustees of the Baptism Site Commission, chaired by HRH Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad, took the initiative to donate an area of about 30,000 square meters of land at the site to the Latin Vicariate. As a result of this generous act, the Vicariate in Jordan was able to begin development of its plans to bring the church project to reality.
We are most thankful to God for this gift, and grateful to His Highness and the Board of Trustees for their kind gesture.
With the location for the church available and ready at this sacred site, the Patriarchate initiated efforts to design and implement the project. Local and international entities were contacted for support and various design concepts were explored over the next year; however no decision was arrived at.
In 2006 Mr. Nadim Muasher, one of our parishioners and an architect, offered his support and presented a comprehensive concept he designed for building a Latin church at the Baptism Site. Mr. Muasher was assisted by the French architect Mr. Francois Lacoste and the interior designer Mr. Charles Glain to fully develop the concept. The design comprises a religious complex that includes a church for prayer and pilgrimage, two monasteries and visitor centre with a variety of services for the comfort and convenience of pilgrims and visitors.
The architecture of the new design focused on bringing out the importance of the site to the Christian religion and the faithful. The Latin Vicariate accepted this concept and the next steps were taken to begin implementation.