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Megachurch Pastor Jamal Bryant Calls for Israel Ceasefire in Christmas Eve Service With Palestinian Christians

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New Birth Missionary Baptist Church
(Source: YouTube videograb)

By Sophia Qureshi, December 24, 2023, 285 South

On Christmas Eve morning, hundreds of congregants gathered at the New Birth Missionary Baptist church, which has been described as the largest land-owning Black church in America.

The 10,000-member megachurch in Stonecrest, Georgia, about 20 miles due east of Atlanta, was lit with brightly colored spotlights, huge screens broadcasting the service, and booming music filled the space. 

Today’s service,e though, was unlike any other. Images of the Palestinian flag were on the stage and on the screens. Church choir members wore keffiyehs. And the call from the pastor was clear: a ceasefire in Gaza.

“We cannot ignore that up to this moment, 20,000 lives have been senselessly killed in Palestine,” said senior pastor Jamal Bryant, opening up the service. “If Jesus were born today, he would have been found under rubble…because of bombs that this nation paid for and provided.”

Bryant said he had had conversations about “Christmas being canceled” because of the war.

He ended up taking New Birth on another route. “Today, we are calling for America, we are calling for the world to insist that a ceasefire take place immediately. That’s what we want for Christmas.”

His call echoes hundreds of Black spiritual leaders across the country.

Among the attendees were a number of Palestinians seated together. Bryant welcomed them, and congregants raised their hands in prayer.

“I have family still in Gaza…I come from a long line of Christians in Gaza,” said Lydia El-Sayeh to the crowd of congregants from the stage.

Reverend Fahed Abu-Akel gave congregants historical context of the conflict: “American television tells us that everything started October 7.” He spoke about his memories of he and his family being expelled from their home in Palestine in 1948, when he was four years old. “When I see the kids in Gaza, I see myself leaving my home.”

Continue reading at 285 SOUTH

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FM Editors
FM Editors
Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.

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