Mount Zion Cemetery, Jerusalem

The Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Israel is a cemetery owned by the Anglican Church Missionary Trust Association Ltd. London, represented by the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and The Middle East. In 1848 Samuel Gobat, Bishop of Jerusalem, opened the cemetery and dedicated it as ecumenical graveyard for congregants of Anglican, Lutheran and old Catholic faith. Since its original beneficiary, the Bishopric of Jerusalem was maintained as a joint venture of the Anglican Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Prussia, a united Protestant Landeskirche of Lutheran and Reformed congregations, until 1886, the Jerusalem Lutheran congregation preserved a right to bury congregants there after the Jerusalem Bishopric had become a Anglican diocese; the cemetery is located on the southwestern slope of Mount Zion in Jerusalem, southerly surrounded by the street Ma'alei haShalom. Mount Zion Cemetery is reached passing the site of the former Bishop Gobat School, since 1967 housing the Jerusalem University College, founded as American Institute of Holy Land Studies in 1957.

ּBetween 1948 and 1967 the congregations using the cemetery, with most of their congregants living in East Jerusalem, had complicated access to the cemetery located in what was West Jerusalem. So in those years a further ecumenical Protestant cemetery in Beit Safafa, Jarmaleh Cemetery, was opened on the road to Gush Etzion opposite the Tantur Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies. "Early attempts were made in 1839 by John Nicolayson to acquire some land for a London Society cemetery site in Jerusalem. In June of that year he reported that, with the collaboration of Vice-Consul Young, he had located a suitable plot of land on Mount Zion that would meet this need, but that he had postponed closing the deal until matters were clarified about land acquired earlier for residential construction."However, British Vice-Consul William Tanner Young succeeded to acquire another site for the cemetery: "It is a Parallelogram of 156 feet long and 60 feet broad – It is 335 paces West of the Jaffa Gate and 182 paces East of that Turkish Burial-ground, in the vicinity of the Upper Pool of Gihon, North West of the City.""He requested and received approval from the Foreign Office in London to build walls around the site.

Among those buried in this cemetery were Ewald’s wife in January 1844 and Bishop Alexander in December 1845. However, because of the proximity to the Muslim cemetery and all the problems this entailed, the small British community in the city was forced to find a new site. In January 1844, during negotiations with Constantinople about the firman for building the church, Nicolayson asked the Sublime Porte for a permit to buy a plot of land for a cemetery on Mount Zion outside the city walls, where other Christian burial grounds were situated." The other Christian burialgrounds on Mount Zion are an Armenian, a Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Franciscan cemetery, the latter containing the grave of Oskar Schindler. "Only in spring of 1848 did the British consul general in Constantinople and his colleague in Jerusalem, receive a firman to purchase a cemetery plot for the Protestant community." Prepared by Nicolayson buried there, with the support of Hugh Rose, British consul-general for Syria, the Mutasarrıf of Jerusalem, Zarif Pasha, Bishop Gobat acquired the tract of land on Mount Zion in the same year, paying £ 350 for the land, its enclosure and levelling.

Gobat financed the expenses with private funds earlier donated by Britons and Swiss, of which by December the British Government recovered £100 and private British donators another £46.2.0, while Prussians did not contribute to the project at that time. Mount Zion Cemetery replaced the old cemetery West of Jaffa Gate. So Gobat transferred the graves from there to the new cemetery on Mount Zion. By the end of November 1848 it was enclosed by a wall. Between early 1850 and September 1852 Gustav Thiel and his wife Maria Katharina Großsteinbeck were employed as gardeners and guards of Mount Zion Cemetery at an annual income of 75 taler, they lived in a house directly at the cemetery and improved their livelihood with cows and other livestock. Jerusalemites of all background took a fancy to their European style butter, other dairy products they produced. So their house outside the city walls attracted visitors who bought and immediately consumed at their kind of an inn. After they quit their post Maria Katharina's brother Friedrich Wilhelm Großsteinbeck succeeded them.

However, Consul Finn prompted his dismissal after half a year in 1853. In 1853 Gobat separated a part of the cemetery, which had not yet been used for burials, moved the Bishop Gobat School thereto, taken over by the Church Missionary Society in 1877; the actual burialground was demarked by a new wall with a lychgate separating it from the school ground and garden. Therefore, the cemetery has no direct access to a street, but is reached passing the site of the school. However, in order to enlarge the burialground again, once a shortage of gravesites would occur, Gobat – on the occasion of separating the school ground from the cemetery – recorded a pursuant clause protocolled by the British consulate. Consul-General Georg Friedrich August von Alten aimed at dissolving the Anglican-Protestant ecumenical cemeterial community, the German Foreign Office and Bishop Gobat opposed hi

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