This data was last updated on 8 July 2014.
History: During the early 1970s, a Syrian pastor named Joe Sabongy had been utilizing the international outreach services provided by Park Street Church in Boston. There, Pastor Sabongy met Jordanian minister, Dr. Sami Ammari, who later founded the Arabic Baptist Church in Roslindale. Reverend Ammari served the ABC until the late 1970s, at which time Hanna Ibrahim began leading the church until his passing in early 2000. Reverend Khaled Ghobrial now serves as the AEBCs senior pastor. The congregation held its meetings and services at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Roxbury for almost 25 years. In 1997, the church was finally able to raise enough money to purchase an old lumberyard warehouse on Spring Street in West Roxbury to build its own facility. Members of the church joined together to clean up the area prior to the start of construction in 2003 when a $2 million loan was acquired. During the final phase of construction, additional funding was required to complete the project, and due to the lack of funds construction was halted. Meanwhile, the permitted time for construction granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals ran out and negotiations had to be made in order to move forward with construction. Because of the delayed timing of completion, the neighborhood began losing confidence that the church would ever get built. In January of 2006, Bahig Bishay, a long-time member of the church was appointed by the church's executive board to delegate tasks for restarting construction on the building. Funding came from members and outside supporters, while the bulk of costs were taken care of by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Six months later, construction was completed; however, the church is currently in debt and its finance committee is working on methods for the repayment of construction costs to the SBC. Mr. Bishay attests to the satisfaction, support, and gratitude the neighborhood has shown since the building's completion in July 2006.
Description: The reflecting green and gold sign, reading “Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church: A Lighthouse for Christ,” can be seen right off of Spring Street in a predominantly commercial area of West Roxbury. The parking area is situated just behind the sign where the children's playground area is located. The main facade of the building boasts a large inlaid cross made of dark brick surrounded by lighter colored brick, while the main entrance area sweeps along the right side of the building. Inside, the AEBC contains a moderately-sized gymnasium with the church’s lighthouse logo image imprinted in the center of the floor. Also located in the basement of the building is the Youth (Shabab) Group’s meeting room, the Arabic Family Center’s (AFC) office and recording room, and a large kitchen. Administrative offices, classrooms, the “fellowship” meeting area, and a second kitchen are stationed one level above, while the sanctuary is located just off the fellowship meeting area. The two-level sanctuary holds seating for up to 325 people, and includes a nursing room towards the back where women can tend to their babies while still viewing the service through a live picture feed. From the pews, the baptistery can be seen stationed off the left side of the altar, while a highlighted cross is propped in the center of the wall behind the altar. A small set of stairs on the second floor of the sanctuary lead to the technical room, where the visual and sound effects that get displayed and heard during the service are controlled. Although the sanctuary’s windows liken themselves to the tall windows seen throughout the building, the former contain small sections of stained glass, distinguishing the worship space from other areas of the building.
Demographics: The Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church has over 100 members and almost 200 attendees at services each week. The majority of worshippers at the AEBC are Arabic-speaking Middle-Easterners ranging in age, though some of the younger generation is not proficient in Arabic. Additionally, there are a handful of members who are not Middle Eastern or of Middle Eastern descent.
Conferences: The Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church typically hosts four annual conferences. Of the four, two are considered the bigger conferences, one which takes place in the spring and the other in the winter. The other two conferences are organized by the church's youth group. The youth (Shabab) assign a leader from their group, and they work together months in advance, preparing the theme of the conference, the topics, and the details of the program. Generally, each conference spans the course of a weekend and most of the topics and themes are focused on issues pertaining to youth and their spirituality. Five lectures by guest speakers and morning devotion times are usually scheduled for each of the conferences. There are also afternoon sporting events, evening games, and a midday workshop where youth come together to discuss issues affecting them. Past conferences have either been held at a retreat site in Toah Nippi, New Hampshire or in Harvard, Massachusetts, while various churches throughout the northeast participate in either or both conferences. The conference staff team hopes to make some adjustments that will better accommodate the needs of both the Arabic and English-speaking youth during the upcoming 2007 November retreat. For more information about the AEBC's youth-organized conferences, visit shabab.ArabicChurch.org.
Outreach through TV Broadcasting: The AEBC also maintains a television broadcasting program, Al-Karma TV, available through both satellite TV and cable TV in thirteen different towns throughout Massachusetts. Al-Karma TV is a project of the Arabic Family Center (AFC) that airs most of AEBC 's sermons. The AFC is known as the AEBC’s “satellite ministry” and its work includes outreach to the Arabic speaking community in the form of television programming, cassette recordings, and DVDs. Senior Pastor, Khaled Ghobrial, is also a part of the AFC's efforts, as he often serves as a guest speaker and interviewee for recorded programming.
Activities and Schedule: The Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church provides Sunday morning services in Arabic, with English translation available via wireless headphones. High school classes coupled with college and career classes are held in English during the service. "Big Sunday" takes place the first Sunday of every month, and is a day for children to sing, watch a puppet show, and have craft time. Youth (Shabab) Meetings take place every Friday evening, where the youth gather to sing, eat, listen to guest speakers lecture on varying topics, and participate in activities. For more information about the AEBC's activities and services, visit www.arabicchurch.org.
Affiliation with other Communities/Organizations: The Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church (AEBC) is formally affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and works with regional executive director and treasurer, Dr. James Wideman. AEBC is also in correspondence with Evangelical churches in the Middle-East, in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, whose members are invited annually to serve as guest speakers. Likewise, members of the AEBC have traveled to churches in such countries to deliver lectures and sermons.
Plans for Expansion: Scheduled to begin its services in September of 2007, the “Lighthouse Childcare Center” is a faith-based childcare service available for children between the ages of three and six, and is run by Dr. Mervat Makar, a member of the AEBC. Though currently working on strategic planning for the repayment of the construction costs of the new building, the AEBC hopes to one day raise enough money to establish a campground in New Hampshire or Massachusetts.