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Syrian pastor to speak in Kingston

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The Rev. Butros Zaour, a pastor of the Evangelical Church of Damascus, Syria, will speak in Bethel Presbyterian Church, Kingston, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3.
The presentation is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) International Peacemakers Program.
Zaour was born in the northern Syrian town of Aleppo.
He graduated from the American College, Aleppo, and obtained his divinity degree from the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon.
He has been a pastor at his church for 16 years. Zaour has had active leadership roles in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.
While in Kingston, he will discuss challenges for the Christian church in the midst of violence and war in present-day Syria.
Almost 2 million Christians lived in Syria before the current strife. After Egypt, Syria had the second-largest Christian population in the Middle East.
The Christian communities of Syria — until recently, about 10 percent of the population — spring from both the Eastern and Western traditions.
These groups have cooperated increasingly through their ties with the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and the Middle East Council of Churches.  
National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon is encouraging Christians to remain in Syria and not cross into Lebanon, despite all the difficulties and persecution they face.
The Synod believes it is imperative that a Christian witness be maintained in Syria and throughout the Middle East.
If Christians leave Syria, they may become unable or unwilling to return.
There are presently about 20 Presbyterian churches in Syria, with about 3,500 communicants and 12 pastors. All of the pastors have remained with and continue to minister to their congregations.
Since 1984, the International Peacemakers Program has sponsored more than 200 speakers from 57 countries to discuss about peace and justice concerns of Christians in other parts of the world.
Bethel Presbyterian Church is at Church Street and Hwy. 58, half a block south of Hwy. 70 in downtown Kingston.
The church mobility friendly, with designated handicap parking, restrooms and elevator.
For details, call 376-6340, visit www.bethelpcusa.org or go to the church’s Facebook page.
For more about Bethel’s commitment to peacemaking and other spiritual concerns, contact the  Rev. Wendy Neff at 376-6340.