2017 Trip to Syria and Lebanon
Learning about a new country takes time. A person might consult a map or a history book or the latest edition of a newspaper or magazine. They could spend hours with someone who can teach the country’s language or possibly be fortunate enough to meet and talk with a person from that country. Perhaps the best way to learn about a country is to visit it, in the company of people who know the geography, history, language, food, culture, live there and are knowledgeable about the latest news.
Desiring to learn more about our sisters and brothers in Syria and Lebanon, a team of eleven people traveled to those countries, May 23 – June 1, 2017. Some were returning to learn more and renew friendships; others were coming for the first time. They were led by Rev. Elmarie Parker, PCUSA’s Regional Liaison to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The team spent time with partners of the staff from the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), NESSL pastors and congregation members, and their ecumenical neighbors. Rev. Scott Parker, PCUSA’s Associate for Ecumenical Partnerships, currently working with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), also traveled for a time with the team.
On this page you will find a PowerPoint presentation by professional photographer and SLPN traveler Tina Manley about the travel team’s journey. You will also find three articles written by team members on their return. We trust they will give you a flavor of the team’s experiences.
2017 Traveler Reports
"Well, I see they didn't chop your head off," was the greeting SLPN member Billie Sutter received from a customs agent upon her return to the US, after the May 2017 SLPN journey to Syria and Lebanon. Her "welcome" was a reminder of how misunderstood Syria and much of the Middle East is in the US. Click here to read Bille's account.
The SLPN group spent time in northeast Syria, in and around Kamishli, Hasakeh, and Malkieh, where NESSL congregations are located, and where there is a significant Kurdish population. Dr. Scott Brunger has written an article about the Kurds in northern Syria. Scott and Rev. Ann Brunger are both children of missionaries who worked in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East in the 1960s, so they have long familiarity with the region. Read Scott's article here.
Don Mead, a member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, (PPF) writes a blog on the PPF website. This article, Syria: Evolving Perceptions of a Tenacious Conflict, from Don's blog chronicles his observations while in Syria and Lebanon as he struggles to come to terms with this overwhelming conflict.
2018 Trip to Syria and Lebanon
The SLPN is planning another study trip for the spring of 2018, tentatively April 16-26; the number of persons is limited to 12-15. The group will be accompanied by Rev. Elmarie Parker, PCUSA’s Regional Liaison to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. It will be a time of mutual fellowship, learning, and worship with NESSL congregations in Lebanon and Syria, as conditions permit.
Travelers can explore the history of the churches in Lebanon and Syria, and hear about their current sense of call, vision and work. The travel team will share meals together with church members, engaging in on-on-one and small group discussions with Lebanese and Syrian Presbyterians. This journey offers the possibility of life-changing experiences and a deepening of personal discipleship.
If God is calling you to this journey of ministry, education, and mission, be in touch with Rev. Tim McCalmont at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know of your interest.