Jordan has launched a $100 million master plan aimed at attracting 1 million Christian pilgrims to celebrations of the second millennium of the baptism of Jesus in 2030.
The baptism of Jesus in 2030 will likely look very different from what we have seen in the past. The baptismal site, Jordan River, and other traditional elements of Jesus’ baptism could be simulated in 3D and experienced by a global audience.
The ambitious $100 million master plan was unveiled by a foundation created by the Jordanian government to develop the “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” area, on the east bank of the Jordan River, long venerated as the place of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Archaeological discoveries of an ancient monastery at Al-Maghtas, Jordan, became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015.
Samir Murad, chair of the new foundation, said his group plans to provide Christians access to visit and worship at the site while respecting its integrity.
U.N. backs Jordan’s claim on site where Jesus was baptized
“We wanted to provide pilgrims a chance to be able to spend quality time at the location of the baptism while respecting its spirituality and the UNESCO World Heritage site conditions,” said Murad, a businessman and former minister of labor.
Murad’s team rejected proposals for five-star hotels and fine dining and instead opted for “glamping”-style lodging for more down-to-earth accommodations. “We decided on a biblical village theme that attempts to re-create a 2,000-year-old experience,” he said.
Visitors will have a choice of eateries serving local organic food, “centered on the wilderness and plants mentioned in the Bible,” Murad said. Electricity and WiFi lines will be placed underground so as not to clutter the aboveground experience.
Murad said the initial phase of the project will cost about $15 million. A second phase, which will include a three-star hotel, restaurants, shopping area, museum, wellness center, nature sanctuary and “opportunities for pilgrims to have special quiet spiritual time,” will cost as much as $85 million.
It was unclear, he said, how the project in its entirety will be funded.
“Our initial goal is to raise the needs for the first phase so that people can see and feel what we plan to do,” Murad said.
Perspective: Did historical Jesus really exist?
Nine faith organizations have been officially granted the opportunity to build a place to welcome pilgrims to the baptism site.
One of the nine is the Baptist World Alliance, a network of Baptist churches around the globe, which is partnering with the Jordanian Baptist Convention on constructing the Baptist outpost in Bethany Beyond the Jordan.
The deadline for both phases “is set for 2029, to be ready for the 2,000-year anniversary of the baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan.”
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