Rola Sleiman

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Rola Sleiman ( Arabic رولا سليمان, DMG Rūlā Sulaimān ; * 1975 in Tarabulus , Lebanon) is a Lebanese - Syrian pastor of the National Evangelical Church in Syria and Lebanon . With her ordination in 2017, she is the first woman to be called to the priesthood in the Arab world .


Rola Sleiman was born to a Syrian and a Lebanese girl in Tarabulus , where she was raised in the community of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Tarabulus on Rahibat Street. During the Lebanese Civil War , she attended the Evangelical School, which at that time was still in the old town of Tarabulus, where she also obtained the general university entrance qualification. She then studied in Beirut at the Near Eastern Theological School Theology and graduated in 1997 as a bachelor's degree. Then she moved to the Bekaa plain to work in Christian education . In 2006 she returned to Tarabulus, where she taught ethics at the Evangelical School. Rola Sleiman was also active in the evangelical congregation, where George Bitar, born in Aleppo in 1958 , was ordained pastor on September 2, 1990 and was also responsible for the Church in Meniara . In 2006, Bitar traveled to the United States of America and Rola Sleiman was appointed as a trained theologian to represent him in church services. Due to the Israeli-Lebanese war from July 12 to August 14, 2006, Bitar was unable to return. Only after six months did he come back for a short time, then in 2007 he left Lebanon forever and settled in the United States. The congregation in Tarabulus was without an official pastor, but Rola Sleiman had long-term church service experience. However, since there was no ordination of women at that time , she was not allowed to perform official acts such as baptisms, weddings and the giving of the Lord's Supper . In addition, there was no official - male - representative of the Tarabulus parish in the National Evangelical Synod in Syria and Lebanon. Inquiries from the synod were answered by community representatives by saying that Rola Sleiman, to whom they had become accustomed by now, should be the community representative. The synod approved this with 23 votes in favor against one vote against. From 2009, Rola Sleiman was a permanent preacher of the congregation.

The transitional state lasted for a few more years. In January 2017, the National Evangelical Synod in Syria and Lebanon decided to allow women's ordination, and on February 26, 2017, Rola Sleiman was ordained in Tarabulus as the first woman in the Arab world to be a pastor with the full right to administer all sacraments, even before her on March 24, 2017 Najla Kassab in Rabieh (about 13 km north of Beirut ) followed as the second pastor.

When Rola Sleiman came to the priesthood in 2017, about 6% of the population of Tarabulus were Christians - far fewer than in earlier times - and about 33 families belonged to the National Evangelical Church in the city. Since Rola Sleiman's father was Syrian and only her mother was Lebanese, she only has Syrian and not Lebanese citizenship, although she was born, grew up and always resided in Lebanon. She also wants to work against this state discrimination against women.

Her Syrian and non-Lebanese passport got Rola Sleiman into trouble in May 2017 when the UK government refused to issue her a visa to attend a general assembly of the Church of Scotland to which she had been invited to speak. Although the Scottish Church intervened and issued a higher order to issue the visa, it was prevented from boarding the plane from Beirut to the United Kingdom.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Rola Sleiman. In: Theologinnen - Reports from the work of the Convention of Protestant Theologians in the Federal Republic of Germany , No. 30, 2017, p. 140.
  2. a b Tripoli ( Memento of November 10, 2017 in the Internet Archive ). The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, 2014.
  3. a b c Nada Homsi: How Rola Sleiman became the first Arab female pastor. Al Jazeera, April 16, 2017.
  4. ↑ Ordination of women worldwide. Convention of Women of Theologians, March 2017.
  5. ^ Trailblazing Syrian minister denied entry to UK. Church of Scotland, May 15, 2017.
  6. ^ Rola Sleiman misses Assembly after visa problem. BBC News, May 19, 2017.