The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Sidon
The story of The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Sidon begins with the arrival of the first American missionaries in Sidon who launched the first Evangelical church in Sidon in 1849. The Reverends William Eddy and George Ford were pioneers in their services and accomplishments in Sidon. In 1907, Sim’an el Rassi, a Lebanese, was ordained pastor to serve in this church. In 1914, World War I broke out, and Rev. Dr. George Ford took over till the war ended. In 1918, preacher Ibrahim Faris Daghir was appointed to serve the church and was ordained pastor in 1920 to serve in Sidon and the nearby villages.
In 1953 – 1954, down Mieh-Mieh hill, a new three-storey-building was constructed to be used as a residence for teachers in Gerard- Evangelical Boys’ school- and their families. Approximately, 70 meters away from this building, the cornerstone of a new church was laid by the pastor of the church Reverend Joseph Hourani. The old church in old Sidon was sold and the New Church (this church) opened its doors in 1959 to embrace around 110 members, and pastors who were devoted to their mission. Reverend William Nader took over in 1961. Reverend Wade’ Antoun followed and served from 1975 until 1985. During this period of time, a new hall was built next to the three-storey-building which was used then as the pastor’s residence, a shelter was also constructed and the whole construction was vitalized with the prayers of the worshipers, their dedication and their commitment. Indeed, this was a glorious period in the life of this church!!!
Then came the most drastic turning point in the life of Sidon and the Church. It was March 27, 1985 when the civil war broke out in Sidon. The pastor and his family left, and almost all the Christians left. The pastor’s house was robbed and occupied, then transformed into a school directed by one of the armed parties in Sidon. All documents and official papers of the Church were destroyed and burnt. The Church was transformed into a gasoline station, and its basement was occupied by “Abu Rabe’” and his cow. All the furniture was stolen, and you could see children walking on the street carrying the split pieces of the electric organ. Moreover, you could see the leaflets of the hymnal books and the Holy Bible scattered along the street down to the school.
In 1991, the Lebanese Army took control of the situation, so all militias were dissolved, and all occupied properties were returned to their owners. Eventually, the Church and its buildings became under the control of the National Evangelical Synod once again, and it was time for a new era in the life of the Church to commence.
In 1993, Reverend Suheil Sa’oud, pastor of Beirut Evangelical Church, along with his congregation, accompanied by Reverend Joseph Kassab- Secretary of the Religious Action committee of the Synod- held the first worship service in the Girls’ School auditorium in Booth Hall. Then, the scattered sheep of the Church were gathered, with tears shed in memory of the lost glories of the past days, praying and hoping for a better future with Dr. Rev. Nuhad To’me as pastor. Meanwhile, reconstructions and renovations were to be executed in the Church buildings under the supervision of The Synod.
In 1997 – 2000, Reverend Tony Abboud – then a preacher – was appointed pastor for the Church. During his ministry, the Church was equipped and furnished to be fit for worship services.
Reverend Samer Kandalaft was Pastor of the Church (2000 – 2007) and with his dedication he carried on the mission of rebuilding the Church – souls and stones. Forty two members, along with the elders and pastor, held hands together to witness the great work of the Almighty in the life of this Church!
With the departure of Reverend Samer Kandalakt to Canada in 2007, the need for a new pastor was fulfilled with the consent of Reverend Ramzi Abou Assali to carry on the mission which lasted till the end of November 2009.
With the beginning of the New Year 2010, Reverend Michael Sbeit was appointed pastor. The same dedication and commitment are featured now witnessing once more the marvelous work of the Almighty in the revival of this Church whose sufferings and healings along the past years are only a declaration to the passion and resurrection of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, may His name be praised forever, Amen!
Put on record by Eldress Elham Abou Absi