Merrill Kitchen’s connection to the Nazareth Trust’s ministries can be traced back to 1972, when she and her husband Paul travelled to the Nazareth Hospital to cover for a surgeon that was on leave. Several years later, Merrill was involved in the early stages of the Nazareth Village. Read on to learn more about her story:
My name is Merrill Kitchen. I was born in Melbourne, Australia, and I have postgraduate degrees in the medical sciences and theology.
I learned about the Nazareth Hospital at a medical conference with my surgeon husband, Paul, in Scotland in 1972 when an appeal was made for short-term help for the hospital.
We shared the big old house on the hospital property with the Bernath, Martin and Haines families. Paul was active in a surgical role while I did lots of short-term jobs in microbiology, teaching nurses, and schooling for my young family.
I enjoyed discussions with Mike Hostetler and others about the possibilities of development of the Village. Later, over almost 20 years, we brought many Australians with a variety of skills for short terms to help in the establishment of the Village.
We spent a short time helping with an urgent need at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. That was a profound experience of the life of refugees.
Also, we have special memories of camping with the Martins, Bernaths and Haines families down along the Dead Sea and into the Sinai region.
We saw the Israeli-Palestinian situation through different eyes and have been committed to finding a just solution for the conflict ever since.
On returning from Nazareth, while engaging in teaching in medical sciences, I had lots of theological questions that needed some exploration, so I took the opportunity to attend theological classes in my spare time and eventually completed a postgraduate degree. This resulted in a career change as I became a college Dean and later a Principal. I was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for my contributions to theological education, which also mentioned my contributions to the Nazareth Hospital.
The Nazareth Hospital employs people from all three Abrahamic religions, and they work together in harmony for the benefit of their patients. Over the years, the hospital has become self-sufficient and a place of learning over a broad range of medical disciplines.
My most treasured memory was giving birth to my daughter Lisa in the maternity ward in 1975. She is very proud of her birthplace and returned with me recently to the Hospital Anniversary.