Source: The Christian Science Monitor
Wild reeds, spindly acacia trees, and dusty mountains greet travelers to this remote, arid spot. Yet here, near the lowest point on Earth, Jordan’s royal family is hoping visitors find something uplifting: their common humanity.
By the River Jordan, near the spot where many believe Jesus was baptized and John the Baptist held his ministry, Jordan is embarking on building a new village and vast interfaith ecosystem that is promised to be the largest Christian pilgrimage and interfaith center in the Middle East.
In a ceremony last week, King Abdullah unveiled a “baptism zone” masterplan, including a village, biblical wilderness, museum, farms, and spiritual and study center next to the traditional baptism site.
The initiative brought together international advisers and a foundation directed by the monarch that they say is charged with creating a “haven for interfaith contemplation.”
Jordan and the Hashemite royal family, which acts as the custodian of the baptism site, hope the zone will be more than just a center for Christian pilgrims, but a gathering point for people of different faiths and nationalities and a showcase for Jordanian interfaith harmony.
Church leaders hope it will serve as an anchor for Christians from across the region.
“This will be a living city at the River Jordan and the site of baptism, a place and practice which unites Christians from all different churches and diversity,” says Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rai of Lebanon, Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronite Church, one of dozens of regional church leaders who attended the launch of the zone.
“Humanity needs a meeting place and a dialogue today, and the River Jordan is a meeting place not only for Christians, but for mankind.”
To read the full article, click on this Link.