First Palestinian Woman Ordained in Jerusalem

On Sunday, in a Lutheran Church ceremony in Jerusalem, Sally Azar became the first female Palestinian pastor in the Holy Land.

First Palestinian Woman Ordained in Jerusalem
Image credit: AP [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • On Sunday, in a Lutheran Church ceremony in Jerusalem, Sally Azar became the first female Palestinian pastor in the Holy Land.
  • Following her ordination, Azar will lead the English-speaking congregation at the Church of the Redeemer in Jordan.
  • In the Palestinian territories of Israel and Jordan, Christians are a minority and are predominately Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic. Neither church allows female priests.
  • According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the West Bank and Gaza strip are home to 47K Christians. The Lutheran church, which Azar belongs to, has 3K adherents in the region.
  • Azar’s father, Bishop Sani Azar, ordained her in front of a packed crowd, as his daughter became one of five ordained women in the Middle East. Syria has one ordained female; Lebanon has three.
  • Azar graduated from the Near East School of Theology in Lebanon before studying Intercultural Theology at the University of Gottingen in Germany. Ahead of her ordination last week, she said, “The rite of ordination is an honour [sic]. The chance to be ordained as a woman in my church is an added honour [sic].”

Sources: Al Jazeera, Siasat, BBC News, and Times of Israel.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Christianity Today. Trailblazing women show that there is a forward-thinking path available in the Middle East region and that progress is possible. Hopefully, we are seeing the start of a growing movement of women entering positions of power in Middle Eastern churches.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Back to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, women in the Middle East have been thrust into pastor roles out of necessity rather than an ideological pursuit of equality. Women continue to be in danger throughout the region and female pastors have faced grave threats. There is an enormous amount of work to do in terms of gender equality in the region and its religious institutions.