Zahli

National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Zahle

Historical glimpse

The Evangelical presence in Zahle began in 1860 with the English Evangelical mission and specifically with the missionary Bowen Thompson (or Elizabeth Thompson) who established an orphanage for boys, followed by a school.  American mission efforts followed, persevering to establish churches and schools.  In the forefront was Rev. Jerald Dale, who founded the Evangelical Church in Zahle and three schools, only one of which remains.  Many additional  foreign missionaries endeavored to establish ministries of service, education, and spreading the Gospel.  Among the most prominent pastors are: Franklin Haskenson, William & Henry Jessup, Paul Erdman, and William Freidenker.

In addition to foreign missionaries, local Evangelicals were prepared for spiritual service and served the Church of Zahle. These include Rev. Murad Haddad, Rev. Moufid Abdul Karim and the Rev. George Hajjar. These indigenous leaders eventually assumed responsibility for the pastoral work.

In 1943 Rev. Shawki Hawli became the pastor of the Church of Zahle and continued to serve it until 1983. It is worth noting his achievements at both the educational and spiritual levels. Concerning education, the Evangelical school was then temporarily suspended from work for two years when he received the service in Zahle, so he resumed the teaching by employing three rooms in a very old building that he rented for this purpose.  With forty-five students, Rev. Hawli and his wife, Mrs. Hanneh Al Ashkar, and a few additional teachers,  carried out multiple educational and administrative functions.  In short time the school had grown and flourished,  until a new building was constructed with land donated by the Shehadeh family, members of the Evangelical Church in Zahle.  This new school was located where the Secondary Evangelical School stands today.

At the ecclesiastical level, Rev. Hawli began his service in the old church in Souk El Blat in Zahle.  As God blessed him with a congregation that was growing spiritually and numerically, the need arose for a new church building comprising a hall, rooms for the church activities and a parking lot, none of which were available in the ancient church.  Rev. Hawli began collecting donations  for several years until the current church building located in Hay El Midan was constructed in 1975.

Rev. Shawki Hawli was succeeded by Pastor Mounir Hannah, who nourished the Church, both individually and collectively, with an emphasis upon spiritual devotion and prayer.   Following him in 1990, was Rev. Fadi Dagher. During his pastorate, attendance at the church has grown dramatically.  Rev. Dagher worked with the council of church elders to strengthen the church activities and outreach activities.  Rev. Dagher served the Zahle church until 2008, when he was elected as the General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. Rev. Ramzi Abu Assali began pastoring the church in December 2009, and continues to this day.  
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Zahle today is comprised of more than eighty families, although it is numerically considered a minority in relation to the rest of Christian denominations in the city. These families are mainly located in the city of Zahle; some of them live in the suburbs and neighboring villages, some others live in further areas.

Current church activities: Bible study, Sunday school, ladies meeting. Youth meetings and choir are currently suspended.

Address: Hay El Midan – Square (150 m to the north), Zahle – Lebanon

Phone Number: 08 821042/

Email address: presby-zahle@hotmail.com