CHAPEL, SUNDAYS AT 10 AM
This service is a foundation of First Presbyterian’s Arabic ministry, which seeks to witness to God’s love by walking with the members of the local Arabic-speaking community. The ministry offers spiritual resources and social services, and promotes cultural understanding within both the Arabic and non-Arabic communities.
Church services in Arabic are offered on a weekly basis and on holidays, and are conducted by Moufid Khoury, a commissioned lay pastor in Lehigh Presbytery and FPCA’s Director of Arabic mission and ministry.
ABOUT OUR ARABIC MINISTRY
A strong community of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants and their descendants has become an integral part of the fabric of the community and has been important to the life and ministry of our church.
Approximately 20,000 people of Middle Eastern origin live in the Lehigh Valley with about 10,000 of those living in Allentown and Lehigh County. The population is growing as refugees flee economic hardship, political problems, war and religious persecution in their home countries. When they arrive here, they need to establish themselves, find homes, send their children to school, and get jobs. Although many of the Arabic immigrants are well-educated, others are not. In either case, they face problems directly related to their inability to speak and write English.
At the same time, the international climate has seen a marked increase in hostility to people of Middle Eastern origin. Mistrust of anyone with an Arabic surname has been apparent to even the most casual observer. Both Muslims and Christians have been targeted. With our friends in the Arabic community, First Presbyterian seeks to reduce the antagonism and suspicion by providing education about Arabic customs and language.
The vision of the congregation is to absorb established immigrants into the greater English-speaking church in as many ways as they are comfortable rather than to establish a separate Arabic-speaking congregation.
In addition to church services in Arabic, FPCA’s Arabic ministry provides help with social services for recent immigrants. In many cases, second and third generation people may not need special services in Arabic and are fully integrated into the larger church. Arabic language classes seek to encourage young people and the non-Arabic community to embrace and understand the Middle Eastern heritage and culture. The Arabic fellowship has also provided Middle Eastern meals for the congregation and Presbytery, and speakers and educational events for in the general community.
Commissioned lay pastor Moufid Khoury is the primary contact with the Arabic congregation. He has extensive connections to the local and national Arabic communities and provides both spiritual resources and social services. In addition to creating and conducting the Sunday Arabic worship service every week, Moufid Khoury has experience working with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Social Security, the Department of Public Welfare and numerous other government entities, and is fluent in English and Arabic.