The recent Middle East Synod (see Jan./Feb. 2011 Washington Report, p. 42) has helped focus the churches' attention on the vanishing Christian population in the Holy Land.
For two thousand years, Christian communities have thrived there. Yet, over the last 60 years, their population has gone from their historical level of around 18 percent to less than 2 percent today. Never have the Christian communities in the Middle East been as close to extinction as they are now. According to Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, "the future of the Church in the Holy Land is now in doubt unless fellow Christians around the world step up efforts to help them."
So why are these communities, long rooted in the historic land of their faith, now choosing to leave? And what does that mean for Christianity in the land where Jesus was born and preached?