Menu Style


History of the National Evangelical Union

House of the Evangelical ChurchThe National Evangelical Union in Lebanon is part of the worldwide  communion of churches which have their roots in the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century in Europe.  Early in the nineteenth century, missionaries belonging mostly to the Reformed family of the Reformation tradition came from the United States of America to the Middle East to spread the central message of that Reformation.  Soon they established several centers within the domains of the Ottoman Empire, of which Beirut, a minor seaport at the time, proved to be one of the most strategic and important locations for their future missionary operations.

In 1823, the missionaries rented a small house in the Zqaq al-Blat area--then outside the Beirut city walls--and turned it into their first mission station.  Gradually they bought and built new premises in and around that location which became known as "the American Mission Compound."

The missionaries soon commenced their efforts in the direction of Mount Lebanon and major portions of the Syrian interior.  As of the mid-1840s, local converts emerged and evangelical congregations  began to form in several locations.  The first of these was the Beirut parish, organized in 1848 as the Evangelical Church of Beirut (later known as the National Evangelical Church of Beirut).  In Lebanon, this was followed by other congregations such as that of Hasbayya (1851), 'Abaih (1852) and later Sidon, Tripoli, Zahleh, Marj'ioun, Souq el-Gharb, Hadath, Kafarshima, Khaldeh, 'Arammoun, Shouweir, and others.

By mid-nineteenth century, Beirut was beginning to witness a phenomenal population growth caused by the great waves of migration from the countryside westward.  As a result, the number of local Evangelicals in Beirut increased significantly.  Accordingly, a project was launched to build a large sanctuary to house the Arabic- and English-speaking congregations gathered in the town--destined to become the capital city of Lebanon.

Church TowerIn March of 1869, a church edifice was consecrated in Beirut on the Mission Compound.  Architecturally, the building combined an interesting blend of Scottish late Gothic style mixed with classical Lebanese elements.  Until the Lebanese war of 1975-76, the building stood elegantly in the heart of the city wherein it was considered a national monument.  Since then, the building has been systematically destroyed and burnt.  Today, only the tower remains standing in dfiance of all that human violence and hatred has wrought.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and especially because of the creation of "Greater Lebanon" (with Beirut as its capital) in 1922, the Beirut congregation grew further in size and stature. On account of this, several suburban Protestant congregations around Beirut, such as Hadath, Kafarshima, Khaldeh and 'Aramoun, found themselves naturally inclined towards Beirut for spiritual sustenance, and thus depended heavily on the Beirut Church for pastoral and administrative care.

Ties between the Beirut Church and these suburban parishes remained loose until the early 1960s, when circumstances brought them all into a larger and new organizational structure known as the National Evangelical Union of Lebanon.  The congregation at 'Abeih, though not a suburb of Beirut, also joined.  So also did three other congregations in the towns of Dhour el-Showeir (founded by the Beirut congregation in 1942), Bhamdoun and Dbeih.

The National Evangelical Union of Lebanon consists today of nine parishes whose organizational center and headquarters is in Beirut.  These include, other than Beirut, 'Abeih, 'Aramoun, Khaldeh, Kafarshima, Hadath, Dbaih, Bhamdoun and Dhour el-Showeir.

Before the beginning of the war in Lebanon, the number of the faithful in the Union reached close to eight thousand communicant members.  The highest governing body within the Union is its General Assembly which is formed of both clergy and laity.  Its polity is Congregational; that is, each member parish enjoys a great degree of autonomy and independence in running its internal affairs.  The presiding senior pastor of the Beirut Church is traditionally the president of the Union.

Four of the nine churches of the Union also operate an elementary and/or high school.  The school in Beirut is the only one still functioning since the end of the Lebanese war; while in Dbaih, Kafarshima and Khaldeh, the school premises are either destroyed or occupied.  An orphanage in 'Abeih is also occupied;  but the Union also operates the Schneller School, a large-scale orphanage and technical school in the village of Khirbet Qanafar in the Beqa' valley of Lebanon.

The Lebanese war has devastated most of the church and school buildings and property of the Union.  Yet, in faithfulness to God's call and to the mission entrusted to it a century and a half ago by the founders, the member churches continue the struggle to rebuild and to start afresh everywhere God opens an opportunity.

You are here: Home Welcome History of the National Evangelical Union

Contact Details

The National Evangelical Church of Beirut

P.O. Box 11-5224

Riad Essoulh, Beirut

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel. +961 1 980 051/2

Fax +961 1 980 050