The Largest Christian Community in Israel

Prime examples of the freedom that many Christians enjoy within the State of Israel can be found in the city of Nazareth.

It is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel and is known as “the Arab capital of Israel” because, in contrast to the time of Jesus, the population is now made up mostly of Arabs. That population numbers around 76,500 people and is divided into two main religious groups; around 69 percent are Muslim and 31 percent are Christians.

Here is video of a brief, but fascinating, tour of the city by Natasha Kirtchuk, which was published by ILTV a few weeks ago. It includes a visit to the home of Seif El-din El-Zoubi, who became one of the first Arab members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, back in 1949.

There is a Jewish city nearby, Nazareth Illit, which is known as ‘Upper Nazareth’ and was built alongside old Nazareth in 1957. It was designated as a separate city in June 1974 and has a population of around 40,500.

Old Nazareth is home to the largest Christian community in Israel, a community that includes a variety of different Christian churches and ministries. A prominent one is the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation which attracts many Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Christian visitors every year.

The Church of the AnnunciationThe Church of the Annunciation (photo from Wikipedia)

A somewhat different ministry is the Nazareth Evangelical College which was established in 2014 by merging Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary and Galilee Bible College. The merged college:

‘Trains leaders, men and women, to follow Christ faithfully and
to be equipped and qualified for serving the church in the Holy Land
enabling it to have a powerful influence on society according to God’s purposes.’

This college has links to a variety of Christian groups in other countries, which gave one member of CFI UK staff the opportunity to hear the college’s president preach at a local Baptist church in East Sussex earlier this year.