Arab and Middle Eastern
Bridges across History, Lands, and Cultures
The origins of the Arab and Middle Eastern community within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) extend back many millennia to Mesopotamia, the land “between the rivers,” often considered the biblical garden of Eden and the cradle of human civilization. Passing through this land to Canaan was a man with roots in Ur in the northern Arabian peninsula: Abraham is the father through tradition and faith of Jews, Christians, and Muslims and the ethnic father of Jews and Arabs through his sons Isaac and Ishmael. Centuries later Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, gave his life for all humanity. His followers led the mid-first century Jewish movement that became universal Christianity. Even in the earliest days of the Christian community, the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was witnessed by Arabs and Middle Easterners along with others living during the Roman Empire in the multi-ethnic Palestine and Fertile Crescent. As this dramatic event unfolded, the observers asked, “And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Today's ELCA members of Arab and Middle Eastern heritage, from such places as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Palastine, are the descendants of these earliest Christians. The arabic Language of their Liturgy has close ties with the Hebrew and Aramaic of Bible times. The specifically Lutheran presence in the region dates back to the middle 19th century, when English and German Christians began to found schools, hospitals and churches.
The ELCA currently has 3 Arab and Middle Eastern Congregations. At present, there are 7 Arab and Middle Eastern pastors.
Empowered by Christ, rooted in the lands and culture of the Bible and earliest Christianity, and sent to the world, we seek to serve and proclaim the Gospel among Arabs and people of the Middle East and to share this community’s gifts with the whole Church.