Dear Friends,

I'm the ELCA pastor working to get the tanks out of Bethlehem before
Christmas. Please use this release in any way you wish, feel free to
translate it, print it in your magazines or Christmas letters and send
people to the website to find out more.

Thank you,

Rev. Rich Melheim
Faith Inkubators Project

PS. We are looking for someone who can translate the song and article. If
you know someone who might be willing to help us, please have them email us
at Thank you.

For Immediate Release

How much power is there in a song? I met Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb of Christmas
Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, a couple of weeks ago and heard
about his dream to build a school and an Arts Academy on a hillside above
the Biblical town. Mitri is planting olive trees by day and being shelled by
night. Soldiers daily rough up his parishioners and his daughter's best
friend, Alice, just had her house blown up a few nights ago. In the midst of
it all, Mitri has built a school and is planting the hillside of Mureir
Mountain, telling his people, "Even if I knew the world was going to end
tomorrow, I'd plant a tree today."

The morning after I met Mitri I woke in prayer at 4:45 AM. I found myself
asking God what I was supposed to do - long before I was aware I was awake.
The answer came to me as clear as a bell: Get the tanks out of Bethlehem by

Then I asked how I was supposed to do that. The answer came to me in a song.

I hammered out "Bethlehem" on my piano, then gave it toTony Axtel, one of
the great writer/musicians in the Faith Inkubators Music Guild. Tony
arranged and recorded it over the weekend. Two days later I played it for
Dr. Tony Campolo, FINK mentor and Bill Clinton's spiritual advisor. I asked
Tony if he would try to get it to Clinton. He agreed. We will be asking
Clinton to send it on to Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat along with a plea to
lower the weapons, drop the stones and pull out of Bethlehem by Christmas as
a good will gesture to reignite the peace process.

I then asked Casey Kasem, a friend who assisted me with other peace
projects, if he could help me figure out how to flood the radio airwaves
with this song by Christmas. He said he'd try.

At the same time we sent the song to Oprah, asking if there was a chance
that she could launch a peace movement, would she have a half-hour to listen
to a song. We haven't heard from her yet. In the mean time, we're trying to
get to Jo Dee Messina, Faith Hill and/or Shania Twain to see if they would
consider recording it for us. We hope to have it recorded in Hebrew, Arabic
in the next few weeks so we can flood the US and Middle East airwaves with
it and start a movement. All proceeds from the song will go toward a fund
that would bring Arab, Israeli and American college students together at
Mitri's Arts Academy to grow artists for peace.

How much power does a song have? I beg you to play it for your people and
answer the question for yourself. Listen to or download your own copy of the
song. Print the lyrics and discuss them in adult education, confirmation or
a worship service this Advent. Go to Mitri's Website, and see what this
visionary and his friends at Wheat Ridge Ministries are trying to do to
bring hope and healing in the middle of a war zone. Then decide what you can

If you can play the song in worship and pray for peace, great! If you are
moved to take an authentic tour to Bethlehem and visit Dar Al-Kalima academy
first hand, great! If you are willing to take a special offering during
Advent or to designate your Christmas Pageant or Christmas Eve offering
toward a fund that would bring American college student artists to spend
some time with Arab and Israeli artists at the Dar Al-Kalima Academy, great!
Send your donation to:

Wheat Ridge Ministries Foundation
C/O Bethlehem Dar Al-Kalima Art Academy Project
One Pierce Place, Ste. 250E
Itasca, IL 60143-2630

How much power is there in a song? We will settle for nothing less than the
tanks out of Bethlehem by Christmas.

Is that too much of a miracle to ask for? God only knows.

Peace and thanks,

Rich Melheim

P.S. Wheat Ridge has an 18-minute video on Mitri's dream that's perfect for
adult education or worship. Call Rebecca Balko at 1-800-762-6748 if you'd
like to use it to heighten awareness of what this Lutheran prophet is trying
to do to bring hope to a town that desperately needs it.

P.P.S Online at you'll find:

The Song
o Bethlehem - MP3 (5.6 MB) file for you to download and use in education and
o Bethlehem - Real Audio stream for you to listen to

Video Clip
o support for the Dar al-Kalima project (3 min. - RealVideo) Part of a
Wheatridge video telling about Rev. Raheb's vision for an Arts Academy

Web Links
o Dar al-Kalima Project: Mitri's Project
o Wheat Ridge: Foundation helping Mitri where gifts can be sent

Other Links
o Letter from Mitri: Mitri will keep me updated with the news you'll never
hear on CNN
o Song Lyrics for the song "Bethlehem" for study, worship, education on the
peace issue

Bethlehem: A Prayer for Peace
By Rev. Rich Melheim

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above the deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight
Are met in thee tonight.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we pray to see thee lie
Tonight there is no dreamless sleep, for in the streets people cry
Soldiers, tanks and heartache
Children, tears and stones
In a land the Moslem and the Jew,
And the Christian all call home.
A land they all call home.

O little town of Bethlehem, for you no angels sing on high
No star shines bright this holy night, for in the streets bullets fly
Herod's still killing children
Children still throwing stones
For the crime of wanting to breathe free
In a place to call their own.
In a place to call their own.

Soldiers drop your weapons
Tanks pull far away
Children, drop your stones and dry your tears
There's a place where you can play.
A place where you can play.

Silent night, oh holy night, we pray you'll not be far away
O Prince of Peace, please bring release
Hasten freedom's day.
In a land three people call their own
Moslem, Christian, Jew
In a town where you could not find a home, O Peace
Is there is sacred space where all God's children can embrace?
We pray that God would shine His face and find this place for you
This silent night.