Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Horatio Spafford, The American Colony

Before our last meal in Jerusalem, we walked over to the American Colony Hotel.

 It was begun by Horatio and Anna Spafford.

In 1871, Horatio Spafford, a prosperous lawyer and Presbyterian church elder and his wife, Anna, were living with their four young daughters in Chicago.

 That year, the Great Fire erupted in Chicago, devastating the city. In November 1873, Anna and the children set sail for Europe aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre with a group of friends. Horatio stayed behind, detained by business.

On November 21, the ocean liner was rammed by a British vessel and sank within minutes. Anna was rescued, but all the children drowned. Horatio received the tragic news in a telegram from Anna that read: "Saved alone. What shall I do?" Horatio immediately left for England to bring his wife home. On the trip, Spafford wrote the lyrics of the hymn "It Is Well with My Soul," the music being added later by Philip Bliss.

Back in Chicago, the Spaffords tried to mend their shattered lives. In 1878, a daughter, Bertha, was born and, two years later, a son Horatio, who died in an epidemic of scarlet fever. Horatio left the Fullerton Presbyterian Church, which he had helped to build but considered his tragedy as divine retribution, organized a group of friends and decided to seek solace in the holy city of Jerusalem. After the birth of a daughter, Grace, in August 1881, the Spaffords set out for Jerusalem in a group of thirteen adults and three children.

They formed the "American Colony." The society engaged in philanthropic work amongst the people of Jerusalem regardless of religious affiliation, gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony carried out philanthropic work to alleviate the suffering of the local inhabitants, opening soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures.
Although the American Colony ceased to exist as a religious community in the late 1940's, individual members continued to be active in the daily life of Jerusalem. Towards the end of the 1950's, the society's communal residence was converted into the American Colony Hotel. The hotel is an integral part of the Jerusalem landscape where members of all communities in Jerusalem still meet. In 1992 representatives from the PLO and Israel met in the hotel where they began talks that led to the historic 1993 Oslo Peace Accord.

 paintings by Anna Spafford

 in the restroom

The American Colony was such a peaceful place!
If you ever go to Jerusalem, I would recommend you stay at this place!

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