Presentation and virtual tour Israel

A pilgrim, shown here being baptized in the Jordan River which is believed to be close to the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, is one of numerous photos that will be shown during an Aug. 4 presentation titled “Tour of Israel, I walked where Jesus walked” at the Allegany Baptist Church.

ALLEGANY — As Ward Near and his wife, Nancy, looked out the window of their modern hotel room in Tiberius, they could see an ancient abandoned mosque with grass growing on it, but the tower from which the faithful were called to prayer still stands.

This anecdote and other narratives from Near’s recent trip to Israel will be provided in his presentation titled “Tour of Israel, I walked where Jesus walked” at 6 p.m. Aug. 4 at Allegany Baptist Church, 3236 Maple Ave. The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served following the presentation.

Rev. Jonathan Colby, pastor of the church, said the land of Israel has fascinated people for thousands of years, as “it is the meeting place between continents, the place where Jesus walked, and where many battles have been fought.

“It contains sacred places for Jews, Muslims and Christians,” Colby said. “Whether you are interested in this land because of its connection to the Bible, or because of the current political struggles, Mr. Near’s pictorial presentation will help you appreciate its significance and history.”

In commenting on his trip to Israel and upcoming presentation, Near said that while they stayed in a modern five-star hotel, “the view out the window was of a Muslim mosque of ancient design abandoned in a modern Jewish city.

“This is Israel, for at the same time, it is both modern and ancient, the home of Muslims, Jews and Christians,” Near said. “It is holy to all three faiths and desired by all three faiths. Muslims and Jews are in active conflict to obtain the land. Christians are caught in the crossfire.”

Near added that “in this presentation, you will see mainly a Christian viewpoint, but that of the Jew and Muslim will also appear as they are part and parcel of Israel today.”

Near said the presentation will take the audience on a virtual tour of photos by starting in Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and moving to the Temple Mount.

“We will look at the old city of Jerusalem,” he said. “Next, we will look at some churches built on ancient traditional sites from around the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. Water is a big item in Israel and we will see some ancient springs.”

He noted that the Israeli museums hold a number of ancient artifacts, and Roman ruins likewise show facets of life at the time of Christ.

“We visited some excavated ruins and a couple of museums,” Near continued. “Of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls are some of the most famous artifacts found and for ruins, the fortress at Masada is also very well known.”

Near said the virtual tour will conclude at the Garden Tomb where the hillside has an appearance of a skull.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)