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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Syrian Presbyterian Fellowship receives welcome in California congregation


Member says ‘we are still one family’ with far away loved ones

May 24, 2017

Like many good things, the Syrian Presbyterian Fellowship began with a relationship. A family from Homs, Syria, and a Californian Presbyterian pastor formed bonds that would bridge cultures and unite hearts.

The Jarjour family moved here from Syria before the crisis in their country unfolded. Several dozen members of the family, all cousins, were living in a dozen homes around the community. All are Presbyterian.

Some family members attended the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant and when the violence in Syria—which began in 2011—unraveled into a brutal proxy war, the Rev. Tim McCalmont reached out to Arfan Jarjour.

Together they decided there were enough Syrian Presbyterians here, and enough more coming, to start an Arabic speaking fellowship in hopes that one day it would become a 1001 new worshiping community.

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Jarjour and McCalmont contacted the Rev. Adel Malek, an Egyptian-born engineer turned theology teacher and pastor who has been in the U.S. for 30 years and started the Arabic Presbyterian Fellowship for Egyptian immigrants in Huntington Beach, California.

“Because we were friends,” McCalmont said, “we decided to see what we could do together.”

One of the first symbolic things they did was give Jarjour a key to the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant so he could get the building ready for worship, as Malek lived about an hour away.

“They trusted and loved us, they give us everything,” Jarjour said. “This is now a real Presbyterian experience. We love that.”

As the Syrian Presbyterian Fellowship grew they began doing memorial services for loved ones who had died in Syria. McCalmont remembers one of the first ones.

“A man—a son—came to me with a request,” he said. “He couldn’t get [to Syria] for his mom’s services at the church in Homs and he was wondering if we could have services for her here.”

As many as 250 people have come to these memorial services to share feelings of sadness, mourning these losses with family and relatives in Syria.

“It’s a message that we are still one family,” Jarjour said, “although 15,000 miles separate us.”

McCalmont and Malek know that Syrians live in a time of uneasiness and high anxiety as they receive news and wonder what might come next.

“They have relatives and friends who are there, or would like to come here,” McAlmont said. “I want them to know we stand with them and with their concerns.”

“Our people here need us to stand by them and celebrate their lives,” Malek added. “I want to help them as much as I can, with what I know about this wonderful country.”

Paul Seebeck, mission communications strategist, video and digital asset management, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Syrian Presbyterian Fellowship

Let us join in prayer for:

Presbyterian Church of the Covenant Staff

Tim McCalmont, pastor
Sharon Yagerlener, parish associate
Cornel Radulesco, choir director
Danny Feshenfeld, praise band director
Keri Scroggins, children’s ministries
Andrew Wood, director of student ministries
Elsie Ehara, church office administration

 PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Richard DuBose, PMA                                                                
Angela Duffy, FDN           

Let us pray:

For those who open to us the words of Scripture, we give you thanks, great God. As Scripture is opened, as hearts are transformed, may the church of Jesus Christ thrive and bloom for this and all generations. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 99; 147:1-11
First Reading Deuteronomy 19:1-7
Second Reading James 5:13-18
Gospel Reading Luke 12:22-31
Evening Psalms 9; 118