“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Evangelical Christian Convention established in Israel

A group of Arab evangelicals in Israel held their first ever convention on April 16. One of the worship songs, “Salam, Salam – Peace to the people of the Lord, whereever they are” was a perfect setting for the celebration.

A group of Arab evangelicals in Israel held their first ever convention on April 16. One of the worship songs, “Salam, Salam – Peace to the people of the Lord, whereever they are” was a perfect setting for the celebration.

The convention, bringing together some 500 participants from churches and evangelical organizations, took place at a wedding hall near Shefa-Amr, a city between Nazareth and Haifa.

The percentage of Christian Arabs between the total population have been decreasing from 10% in 1948, when the State of Israel was established, to only 2% in 2004. This small community of 120,000 Christians lives mainly in Galilee. The evangelicals are a minority within this minority, around 3000 in number. Most Christian Arabs are Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic, while evangelicals in Israel come from Baptist, Assemblies of God, Nazarene and Brethren Churches.

The main speaker in the conference was Pastor Nizar Shaheen, a known televangelist who was born in Cana of Galilee and is now one of the main preachers in different Satellite Arabic stations that broadcast the gospel to the Arab world. He encouraged them to stand as one man in Christ, even though their numbers are not high.

Special greeting came from the Evangelical Council in the Palestinian Authority, where only 50,000 Christians are living today. Pastor Alex Awad, Dean of Students in Bethlehem Bible College greeted the churches. Even though Christians in the Palestinian Authority and Christians in Israel are two parts of the same community, recent years have made it harder for them to be connected in fellowship: The separation wall from one side and security issues have made it hard. These communities are also facing problems of not being able to inter-marry because of a recent law that denies Israelis who marry Palestinians from receiving permits to live in Israel.

These issues were put aside during this day. It was the celebration of the Christian Arab Evangelicals for the establishment of their convention. However, some challenges are facing this community as the main objective for establishing this convention is get recognition of the group by the Israeli government. Evangelicals in Israel want to be recognized so they can have their own recognized courts for personal status issues such as marriage and divorce.

Another issue that such recognition will solve is tax exemption for churches. Nowadays, Evangelical Churches have to be organized as non-profit organizations, which brings lots of overhead and complications. Churches and Para-church organizations alike will hope that the new entity once recognized will ease the process of receiving visas for missionaries.

Some 27 churches and 10 Para-church organizations were represented in this convention and their representatives elected a council. The following is the list of the new Arab evangelical council members who were elected:

Appointed members by their denominations:

1. Fuad Haddad – Baptist
Head of Association of Baptist churches in Israel. Retired teacher and principal of Nazareth Baptist School.

2. Rev. Botrus Ghrieb-Nazarene
Pastor in the Nazarene Church-Haifa.

3. Elia Haj-Brethren Church
from the village of Ebelin ,Social worker-“Nazareth hospital”

4. Rev. Edward Tannous-Assemblies of God
Pastor of the Assemblies of God Church -Haifa

5. Fareed Shehadeh-Para-church chairman of “Harbor” ministry. Psychologist

Elected members:

1.Monther Naum-Baptist
Food Engineer-Shefa-Amr.

2.Saleem Hanna-Baptist
Vice principle of the Nazareth Baptist School.

3.Rev. Nizar Tuma-Nazarene church
Pastor of the church in Nazareth.

4.Hani Billan-Baptist
Minister in Cana of Galilee Baptist church.

2016-10-24T07:30:46+00:00 April 18th, 2005|Categories: News|