New Year, New Beginnings
A Letter from our Director
As the end of the year and the decade quickly approaches, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
This year, I’m recounting all we’ve accomplished together.
You have joined thousands of individuals in the greater BSB community across the US to offer your time, talent, resources and prayers to secure the bright future of Dar al-Kalima University students, faculty and all we serve in Palestine. As a result, the number of creative lives that we have seen encouraged and empowered in the past years is unprecedented, and could not have happened without you.
But this year is different, for me.
As this decade ends, I will also be ending 10 years of serving as Executive Director of Bright Stars of Bethlehem. It has been my joy and privilege to serve with you in such meaningful ways across the US. But while leaving this position, I will continue to share deep passion and support for the vision and mission of BSB forward.
I step away from an organization I have stewarded with care– care for those I’ve served with and those we have impacted, together. It is not an easy decision, because this work is so close to my heart.
I invite you to share in the joy of our abundant blessings, and celebrate what your support has made possible in the past years.
New initiatives at Bright Stars of Bethlehem have allowed even more people to experience the impact of our work. We embrace the bold vision adopted within the last two years to educate the next generation of creative leaders in Palestine. Through legacy giving, the new Women of Vision endowment, direct scholarships in film, art and photography, new and emerging donors are engaged.
We look to this next year as we celebrate the heritage of Bethlehem as the 2020 cultural capital of the Arab World with a festival and conference June 14-20 that will bring over 150 people from the US to experience and support the emerging leaders and artists of Palestine.
The decade has affirmed new and renewed partnerships around the world. Through the past decade, we developed Room for HOPE tours of our Palestinian students, faculty and adult program participants to bring the face of the Palestinian people to audiences around the country from Chicago to Charlotte, from Denver to DC, from Minneapolis to Madison and up and down east and west coasts. Through these tours, we directly engaged over 100,000 people in the US, many of whom have since become ambassadors and supporters of Bright Stars of Bethlehem.
In 2018 we hosted the first US Jerusalem conference in Houston, TX bringing together scholars and faith leaders across the globe. This past year, 2019 we partnered with Rick Steves, Marc Lamont Hill, Rep Betty McCollum and many others who are amplifying the voices of our Palestinian sisters and brothers here in the US.
Dar al-Kalima University and Program Growth
In these last years, Dar al-Kalima University saw historic growth and additions to programs and degrees. This is due in large part to the growth of congregations and organizations, individuals and foundations, significant grantors, Holy Land travelers and more committing support to Bright Stars of Bethlehem through capital campaigns and scholarship support. Because of your commitment and persistence, enrollment for 2020 is growing strong. Additionally, we have now reached over 2000 youth annually through the Diyar Academy for Children and Youth programs that engages the youth population through arts and sports programming, creating spaces for healing, dreaming, and belonging. Our programs for older adults have extended lifelong learning, health and wellness programs, and rich community-building opportunities for the countless seniors who lack meaningful support or care due to increasing restrictions of occupation.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve quadrupled our donor base! This past year marked record giving, through generous donor gifts and stellar 15 year anniversary events and campaigns across the U.S. Thanks to the discerning stewardship from the Board of Directors, Bright Stars is in a strong financial position with a balanced budget, and poised for a sustainable future.
Hope for the future
In this new year approaching, we feel the powerful hope of things yet to come.
I am most humbly grateful to Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, the BSB staff, the network of our BSB Area Representatives around the US, our Board of Directors (past and present) and most especially, YOU, the supporters of our work! You have made this journey one of ceaseless passion and commitment. I am indebted to each of you. Thank you for your welcome and now farewell.
Thank you for keeping Bright Stars of Bethlehem in your heart this year, and we joyfully anticipate the years to come as the BSB community grows.
New Year blessings,
Beth Nelson Chase
A Note from our Chairman of the Board
On behalf of the Board of Bright Stars and our co-founder, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, we wish to express our sincere appreciation for Beth’s faithful and tireless service these past 10 years. Because of her passion and dedication, we have accomplished a great deal. We recognize that our supporters give to a mission they care about. You also give because of Beth who, over the years, has stewarded trust and nurtured relationships with each of you. In the next weeks and months, our board is working closely with Interim Executive Director Denise Spencer to guide this transition. We have begun searching for Bright Star’s next Executive Director and will be sure to keep you informed once that decision has been made.
As always, we value your continued support as we look towards a bright new year, full of new beginnings. Thank you for standing with us as we celebrate Beth’s legacy and look towards a bright future in the coming year, and new decade.
Jim Hooker, Chairman of the Board