Female pastors who serve in the reformist Arab evangelical church are filling spots left by male clergy who have fled the Middle East.
The last time women in Syria or Lebanon were ordained in the Church of God was in 1920. Three women were ordained.
This year, two female pastors—Rola Sleiman and Najla Kassab—were ordained in February and March.
“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.”
Sleiman was a Christian teacher and Sunday school teacher before being asked to step in as a temporary pastor at Tripoli Evangelical Church when the church’s pastor emigrated.
When the role still wasn’t filled after a year, church leaders selected Sleiman to represent the church on an administrative council. Still, she could not administer the sacraments.
Then church leaders motioned for her to become ordained. The decision passed 23 to 1.
“I thought it was going to pass,” said Sleiman, “but not with that vote. It was shocking for me.”
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