To anyone’s knowledge, Rola Sleiman is the first female pastor in the entirety of the Arab Christian world.
It’s a straightforward tale: a young churchgoing girl decides to study theology in university, and upon graduation returns to the church of her youth in Tripoli, Lebanon. The only twist is that she is the first woman to reach such a vocation.
“I didn’t really have it in my head to become a pastor,” says Sleiman as she sat in Tripoli’s National Evangelist Presbyterian Church. And yet, she became an officially ordained pastor on February 26, 2017 – a historic appointment for a role which had previously been restricted to men.
It’s evident that Pastor Sleiman’s direct demeanour and good humour helped pave her path to the pulpit. She stands at the podium, making sure her pants are hidden while she jokes with the church’s organ player. “I’m getting photographed in my jeans – it’s going to scandalise our congregation!” she laughs.
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