By Amy Eckert
“Here I stand, a Middle Eastern woman in the Pulpit of Luther.” So began the sermon delivered by Rev. Najla Kassab at the General Council worship service in Wittenberg on July 5. Now Kassab is poised to stand at the forefront of the WCRC as the Communion’s first female president.Read more
The Rev. Najla Kassab, a minister in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), has been elected president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), which groups more than 225 churches in over 110 countries.Read more
Message from Dr. Riad Jarjour, President,
Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue
In this bleak context, hopes to achieve peace and stability remain afar, and it is therefore impossible to assuage fears, to comfort the people, and to improve the situation at the social, economic and security levels. It only seems that we are getting one step closer to a World War Three, which takes the Middle East as a battleground, and its people as victims.
In the midst of a turbulent, not to say blazing East, the FDCD spared no effort in sowing the seeds of peace, disseminating the culture of coexistence and dialogue, and being the glimmer of hope to the youth and to the generation of war, thus urging them not to migrate, but to love, resist and stay in their hometown.Read more
Like a morning coffee, by Irene Cocco, volunteer of Mediterranean Hope at the Observatory of Lampedusa
"There were about one hundred and fifteen people without nothing left and so we departed. The journey lasted six hours until an Italian ship rescued us in international waters. I am safe and I have to go back to being who I was. I have to start playing sports. I have to start walking. I have to stop thinking about Libya, where one day lasted a month and the beatings were daily, like the morning coffee here in Italy.” Read more...Read more
Written by Dr. George Sabra, President, Near East School of Theology
Future generations will no doubt look upon 2017 as a historic year for the churches and societies of the Middle East, but also and especially for the Near East School of Theology. Two of N.E.S.T.’s alumnae were ordained in the Presbyterian Church of Syria and Lebanon, known as the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. Rola Sleiman (‘97) was ordained in the Tripoli congregation on February 27, and Najla Kassab (’87) in the Rabiyeh congregation on March 24. N.E.S.T. community faculty and students were in attendance in both events. N.E.S.T. felt proud of its alumnae who became the pioneers of women’s full ministry in the Protestant Churches of the Middle East.Read more
The presence of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) in the Middle East is known for having a spiritual and service-based nature, working eagerly to share the love and justice of God. This can be seen through the Synod’s commitment to being vessels of service and reconciliation. The Synod field of work in Syria and Lebanon includes around 38 churches, 4,000 active members, and more than 20 ordained pastors.
Written by Dr. Mary Mikhael*
Greetings and every blessing from above!
Some of you have received my Easter letter that sounded hopeless even in the season of hope. I have weakened by so many depressing events around Easter. To watch the children suffocating, and the elderly lying helpless, and hear the news of the missiles striking an airport in Syria by order of Mr. Trump, plus other painful stories, were all the source of hopelessness.Read more
The following message was delivered at the Near East School of Theology's 85th Commencement on June 10, 2017
The church today, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, is living perplexing and challenging days. No matter what the sphere of human existence – science, culture, the family, religion, the arts, education, technology, politics, economics, and on, and on, and on… – the terrain around the church is shifting to the point of unrecognizability, making it difficult for Christians to find and keep their bearings. And one of the most basic challenges, and one that we often overlook because we rely so fully on it, is the propensity to quantify life – to render it in numerical terms. This has completely overtaken the church, individual Christians, and anyone who holds a smart phone or sits at a computer, such that we don’t realize how fully it has changed our perception of the church and our fellow humans. Look at the term we so blithely use to describe our age: the “digital” age. Digits. Numbers. Ones and zeroes. That’s all it is, you know. All the pictures in your photo album, all the messages you launch hither and yon, all the voices you hear on your phone, all the cat videos and breaking news reports you take in are just ones and zeroes. You and I have become virtual ones and zeroes in this brave, new world.
Lectionary Selection: Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 (9-23)
Prayers for Lebanon:
Christ has no body but yours….
Bind us together, O God of grace and mercy, as the one body of Christ. Heal the fissures and wounds which keep us apart.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours...
Let us head the lesson offered to your disciples — to give freely of ourselves as we have freely received from you, despite the many dangers, challenges and uncertainties which lie ahead.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world...
Show us ourselves in “the other”. Reveal to us your face in that of our adversaries.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good...
Help us stay true to the path of peace and reconciliation.
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world...
Let us be builders and sustainers for the common good, not merely for ourselves and our own people.
For we are your body now on Earth.
Ours are the hands. Ours are the feet.
Ours are the eyes. We are your body.
Adapted from “Christ Has No Body” by St. Teresa de Àvila
Yesterday morning, after we told an acquaintance here that we had left the United States to live and work in Lebanon, he told us bluntly, “You made a big mistake. Are there no churches in America that you came here? This country will not straighten out. Not for a long time.” Later, at a community event we attended in the evening, we told another couple the exact same thing we had said in the morning. Their reaction was the direct opposite: “What? You moved to Beirut? This is wonderful news! You have put our minds at ease.”Read more