The Rev. Dr. Betty Jane Bailey, a United Church of Christ clergyperson, "retired." She has spent her life as an ecumenical person including being baptized in a Presbyterian Church; attending a Baptist Sunday School; being confirmed in the Evangelical and Reformed Church; attending a United Methodist College; marrying a member of the Congregational Christian Churches (anticipating the United Church of Christ merger by a few years); and graduating from an E&R seminary, a United Methodist seminary, and a Presbyterian seminary.
Beyond her own denomination, she has worked in an Episcopal Church and for an Episcopal Diocese as well as a Presbyterian Presbytery. As time went on, she wrote about the Russian Orthodox Church; worked for a Roman Catholic institution and, after bragging for years that she had related to every major Christian group except the Lutherans, she became a part of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem for 3 ½ years. She even spent some time working for the Lutheran bishop.
Working with the Middle East Council of Churches in Jerusalem also brought her in contact with many other groups. Her denominational wanderings were not a result of ecclesiastical promiscuity but rather a conviction that we are all part of one Body of Christ, sharing our gifts with one another.
Dr. Bailey spent 3 ½ years as a volunteer in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. All of that time was in an ecumenical setting and part of it included helping travelers, pilgrims and other peripatetic church people meet and hear the stories of local Christians. It resulted in the conviction that much work still needed to be done in "sending countries" to convince Christians that there was more to the Holy Land than the ancient stones. There were live Christian communities there eager to share with Western Christians and most mass tourism simply ignored this. Her mission and ministry is to help people adopt alternatives to mass tourism and to build solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land through information and resources.
Tourism has changed since 2000 because of the recent incursions by the Israelis and the curfews imposed. Travelers cannot easily get to many places and religious sites and church-owned institutions have been shelled. But people do visit and continue to express their solidarity with the Christian of the Holy Land. It is sorely needed.
Over the years Dr. Bailey has had six books published, including the Friendship Press study guide on the Middle East, From the Beginning, and the Friendship Press study guide about the USSR, Eyes to See, Ears to Hear. Two other books were on youth and worship.
Her book, Living Stones Pilgrimage with the Christians of the Holy Land contains information to help you connect with the Christians and their issues. It is available at American for Middle East Understanding AMEU@aol.com or www.AMEU.com for $14.50 including postage. It is also available at the American Educational Trust for $13.50 plus postage. Call them at 1-800-368-5788 or order on website at www.middleeastbooks.com. All royalties go to the Middle East Council of Churches. Although written earlier, much of the descriptions of Churches, etc. is still correct.
In the UK the book may be ordered from Continuum-Orca Book Services at Stanley House, 3 Fleets Lane, Poole, Dorset BH15 3AJ Call them at 01202-665432 or Fax: 01202-666219. All royalties go to the Middle East Council of Churches.
Wm. B. Eerdmanns has published Rev. Bailey’s book Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? Again, all royalties go to the Middle East Council of Churches. The book can be ordered from Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 255 Jefferson Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503 for $20 or from AMEU (see above). She co-authored this book with Rev. Martin Bailey. It is in its second edition.