Near East School of Theology (NEST) - June 2017 Update
Future generations will no doubt look upon 2017 as a historic year for the churches and societies of the Middle East, especially for the Near East School of Theology. Two of NEST’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) was ordained in the Rabiyeh congregation on March 24.
NEST community members, faculty, and students were in attendance at both ordinations. We are proud of these alumnae who became pioneers of women’s full ministry in the Protestant churches of the Middle East. Along with a being proud of our graduates, we are also overwhelmed and gratified by their success.
For years, our seminary has been promoting women’s full ministry in the church, including ordination; for years, our faculty has taught and supported and argued for women’s ordination, and now it has become a reality. I had the privilege and the honor to be invited to preach at Najla’s ordination service, and I would like to share some of my message:
“…this day is the work of the Holy Spirit in history, the Spirit of truth whom Jesus promised to send and of whom he said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). As the Spirit of truth guides us to ordain women – yesterday in Tripoli, today in Rabiyeh – the Spirit is placing our Middle Eastern Protestant churches once again on the prophetic track. Protestant Christianity understands itself to be the continuation or the revival of the prophetic stream in the history of salvation. Prophets in Holy Scriptures are not those who predict the future; rather, they are the ones who speak truth to their generation, to the present, to the community of faith as well as to the political and social establishment on the basis of their profound understanding of the Word of God, an understanding that penetrates beneath superficial and literal readings of that Word. The Spirit of truth has brought us here, saying to us: open wide all doors for women, for their ministry and role – in the church and in society. Prophets do not restrict their discourse to the narrow religious and spiritual domains of human beings; they address all aspects of life, for the Word of God reaches and address all creation. Prophets say “No” to their society when necessary; they reject its customs and traditions and what is taken for granted; they attack its comfort and self-sufficiency and its waywardness; they shake all that people place their trust in, other than the living God.
As the church in our region confronts a situation in which there is an increase in religious extremism, intellectual rigidity, cultural reactionism and social isolationism, and in the midst of a situation in which there is an increase in terrorism, oppression, injustice, trampling upon human rights, suppression of freedoms, especially the rights and freedoms of women, the church has no weapon other than that of word and example; and so it ordains a female servant of the Word and provides an example to its context.”
Dr. George Sabra, president
Near East School of Theology
Read more about the ministry of the Near East School of Theology by clicking HERE.
Outreach is seeking $20,000 for scholarships and general operations at NEST.