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Presbyterian Iraq

Author
Category Articles
Date April 8, 2003

According to tradition, in the first century the apostle Thomas evangelized the region on his way to India. An estimated 600,000 Christians live in the country of 22 million people.

Presbyterian missionaries began working in Iraq in 1836. Some five congregations belong to the Assembly of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches-Iraq. The oldest of these congregations dates to 1840 and is located in Mosul. The National Presbyterian Church in Basra dates to 1940. Other congregations are located in Kirkuk and Baghdad.

According to tradition, in the first century the apostle Thomas evangelized the region on his way to India. An estimated 600,000 Christians live in the country of 22 million people. By far the largest group is the Chaldean Catholic Church, followed by the Assyrian Church of the East (called the Nestorians), the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Under the current Baath party government all Christian clergy and property are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Islamic Property. Presbyterian laymen have risen as far under the present administration as vice marshal in the military and in the ruling Baath Party.

The Baath movement derives from a 1947 founding congress in Damascus. This conclave of pan-Arab intellectuals was inspired by the ideas of two Syrians, Michel Aflaq and Salah ad Din al Bitar. Before the rise to power of Saddam Hussein the Baath movement sought to bring all Arab states together in a socialist, secular, unionist, and democratic national structure rather than an Islamic society.

After the Gulf War, independent Presbyterian and Reformed congregations in North America supplied relief aid to Iraq’s Presbyterians through Christian Liberty Academy under the direction of Dr. Paul Lindstrom.

+ Christian Liberty Academy, 502 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, IL 60004

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