Presbyterian Church Elects Palestinian as Moderator
Washington, DC — The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has congratulated the Presbyterian Church for its recent election of Palestinian American and long-time activist Reverend Fahed Abu-Akel to Moderator, the Presbyterian Church‘s top elected position. The ADC is a non-sectarian civil rights organization which mainly represents Arab-American Muslims and Christians, and which welcomes people of all faiths as members. Abu-Akel served as board member on the Atlanta ADC chapter and only recently resigned to run in the nationwide election for Moderator of the Presbyterian Church. With 2.5 million followers, the Presbyterian Church is one of the most active in America and was directly involved in the Middle East in helping establish the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, and the American University of Cairo.
In the nationwide Presbyterian competition between three candidates for the position of moderator, Abu-Akel reaffirmed his commitment to three main goals: spiritual renewal, local and global missionary work, and unity in the midst of diversity. When asked how he felt about being selected for such a noteworthy position, Reverend Abu-Akel responded by stating how he arrived in the US more than thirty-six years ago, with only a “?suitcase, Bible, and English/Arabic dictionary on hand.” He continued by stating how, as an American of Palestinian heritage, being elected to the highest position in the American Presbyterian church, bodes well for the future of both peace in the Middle East and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine.
Reverend Abu-Akel was born in Kuffer-Yassif a small Palestinian town. He was raised by Greek Orthodox parents and became first familiarized with the Presbyterian Christianity through his acquaintance of two Scottish missionary women who rented the second floor of his family home during his childhood. Doris Wilson one of the medical missionaries living in Abu-Akel‘s home at the time, became well known throughout the Palestinian region for her work with Christian and Muslim women and served as a personal inspiration to Abu-Akel.
Reverend Abu-Akel completed his elementary and high school education in Kuffer-Yassif. Due to the lack of seminary schools in Israel and the non-existent political relationship of Israel with Egypt or Lebanon at the time, Abu-Akel moved to the US in 1966, to pursue theological studies. Abu-Akel received his BA and Masters degrees in the field of Theology. While in his third and final year of his Masters, Abu-Akel began working at the First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Five years later, in March 1978, Abu-Akel became a Presbyterian minister and the founder of the Atlanta Ministry of Friendship and Hospitality. The ministry, which now serves over 5,500 students, provides a liaison between the American Presbyterian community and international students and scholars. Today, the Atlanta Ministry represents over 140 countries worldwide.