Association of Baptist Churches in Israel
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Shukri Musa, the maternal grandfather of Edward Said, who was baptized by George Truett at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, was the first known modern Baptist to enter Israel (then the British Mandate of Palestine). He arrived in 1911, with the support of the Illinois Baptist State Association, and began in Zefat, where he baptized his first convert. He later founded a church in Nazareth. The Southern Baptist Convention sent missionaries in 1923. A congregation was established in Jerusalem in 1925, and another in Haifa in 1936. The Association itself was established in the early 1960s.
In 2001, the Association of Baptist Churches established a "twinning" agreement with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, which is promoted by the organizations as "a means to support each other in prayer, developing ministry, mutual benefit from the experience of the other, fellowship and encouragement.<ref."Twinning" started in the Bedfordshire Association (which is now part of Central Association) circa 1999, then the entire Baptist Union later adopted the idea.</ref>
The churches of the ABC are conservative in their theology. They oppose the practice of women pastors. Due to their circumstances, individual churches often emphasize their positions on the Old and New Covenants. The Jerusalem Church, having suffered the original body adopting charismatic practices, emphasize their stand on spiritual gifts. Premillennialism is the predominant eschatological belief, though some are adopting Amillennialism.
In 2004, the ABCI had 19 congregations with about 2000 members. The congregations are ethnically and linguistically diverse, with 13 Arabic-speaking, two Hebrew-speaking, two Spanish, one Filipino, and one Russian. The majority of Baptist believers live in Galilee. Chairman of ABC board is Mr. Fuad Haddad. Treasurer from Association is Bader Mansour, the owner and general manager from Nazareth Data Quest a technology provider corporation.In June 2006,the ABC elected a new chairman:Mr. Monther Naum,a nutrition engineer from Shefa-Amr.
A "K-12" school (founded 1949), which is housed near the Evangelical Baptist Church at Nazareth, is related to the organization. The Nazareth Baptist School was rated lately as the 7th school nationally in the percentage of excellent students in the matriculation exam. The general director of the school is Botrus Mansour, and the principal is Dr. Ousama Moalem. The leading Baptist congregation is the Local Baptist Church (LBC) in Nazareth. The Association of Baptist Churches is a member of the European Baptist Federation and the Baptist World Alliance.
In addition to the churches of the ABCI, there were two churches in Israel affiliated with the American Baptist Association (one each in Jerusalem and Ramallah) and one Reformed Baptist church near Tel Aviv. Christians make up about 2% of the religious affiliation in Israel, and Baptists are only a small part of that. Yet, the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel is the largest individual evangelical body in Israel. The majority religion is Jewish - about 80%.
In 2006, ABC initiated the establishment of the Nazareth Centre for Christian Studies and asked Dr. James Bryson Arthur from Scotland to lead it. This was later renamed Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS) and presently offers BTh, BDiv, MTh, and MA degrees. A majority of Israel's Baptists live in the Galilee.
- Susan Slyomovics, "http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/framework_the_journal_of_cinema_and_media/v050/50.1-2.slyomovics.html Edward Said's Nazareth", Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, 2009
- Association of Baptist Churches (January 2007). "The Nazareth Center for Christian Studies". Global Missiology 4 (2). Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Naom, Monther (September 2007). "A Word from the ABC Chairman". Al Kalima 2.
- American Baptist Association (Hrsg.): Yearbook 2004.
- Dwight Baker: Baptists Golden Jubilee, 50 Years in Palestine-Israel: A Short Commemorative History. Nazareth, Israel: Association of Baptist Churches (1961).
- Albert William Wardin, Junior: Baptists Around the World.