Bethlehem’s bid for World Heritage site boosted by German diplomat’s visit

Written by on October 19, 2021

Bethlehem’s bid for World Heritage site boosted by German diplomat’s visit

By Megan Frank

October 19, 2021

German diplomat Michelle Munterfering (seated at right) displays an agreement with Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez as part of the nations’ application to designate their Moravian settlements as a World Heritage site. Photo | Megan Frank / WLVR

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A distinguished visitor from Germany came to Bethlehem on Monday to promote a joint agreement with Northern Ireland, Denmark and the U.S.

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Michelle Müntefering, a deputy minister with Germany’s Public Affairs Office, said the visit was a symbolic step in the World Heritage sites application process for each country’s historical Moravian communities. 

“It’s so important that we came together here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, because we’re cooperating on the World Heritage proposal,” Müntefering said. “And of course, that’s important for the trans-Atlantic relationship as well.”

She said the historical Moravian communities in all four countries decided to work together because of their deep cultural roots and ties. 

“World heritage is always a symbol of cooperation and of responsibility. And that is what we have in common,” Müntefering said.

She presented a letter to a representative from the U.S. Office of International Affairs. The letter affirmed Germany’s commitment to work with Northern Ireland, Denmark and the U.S. during the application process with the United Nations

Bethlehem was settled by Moravians in the 1700s. The German-speaking Protestant group immigrated here from the Czech Republic seeking religious freedom. 

World Heritage applications go through a lengthy two-to-three-year review process before a final decision is made. Local officials say the designation would provide a boost to Bethlehem tourism.

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