The Nazareth Trust

Healing in the name of Jesus since 1861
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Merrill Kitchen

A conversation with Merrill Kitchen

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:

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Merrill Kitchen. I was born in Melbourne, Australia, and I have postgraduate degrees in the medical sciences and theology.

How did you learn about the Nazareth Hospital?

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.

Can you tell us about your first time in Nazareth back in 1972? What sort of tasks did you do while you were there? Where did you stay?

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.

What role did you have during the early stages of the Nazareth Village?

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.

A photo of a group of volunteers wearing clothes from the 90s in Nazareth.

1988-89 workparty team in Nazareth.

Did you have a chance to travel around Israel? If so, what’s your favourite corner and why?

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.

Did the experience change you in any way?

We saw the Israeli-Palestinian situation through different eyes and have been committed to finding a just solution for the conflict ever since.

How did your time in Nazareth impact your faith?

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.

What do you think makes the Nazareth Hospital different from other hospitals?

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.

What is your most treasured memory from Nazareth?

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.


Thank you, Merrill, for sharing your story with us! If you would also like to share yours, email