Female Pastors Bring Hope to War-Torn Middle East Churches

Syria and Lebanon celebrate the historic ordination of a pair of faithful clergy.
Female Pastors Bring Hope to War-Torn Middle East Churches
Image: Patrick Baz / Getty

The turnover among Christians in the Middle East, in addition to years of stirring among reformist Arab evangelicals, has made way for female pastors to rise into leadership positions vacated by clergy who have fled amid the mass migration in the region.

Not since three women were ordained by the Church of God in 1920 had an Arab woman been granted the ecclesial backing to administer the sacraments in Syria or Lebanon. Nearly a century later, a pair of female pastors—Rola Sleiman and Najla Kassab—were ordained in February and March of this year.

They represent a unique way forward for the meager evangelical population in the Levant, which has followed traditional gender roles.

“It wasn’t in my dreams,” said Sleiman, who studied at Beirut’s Near East School of Theology (NEST). “I just wanted to serve God. I never planned that I’m going to be ordained.”

After serving for years as a Christian educator and Sunday school teacher in Tripoli, ...

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