Seattle Presbytery ordains PC(USA)'s first Iranian pastor
Mansour Khajehpour to serve First Church in Fort Scott, Kan.
June 15, 2010
Mansour Khajehpour became the first Iranian pastor to be ordained by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) when Seattle Presbytery ordained him to the ministry of Word and sacrament June 15 at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. He has been called to serve as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Scott, Kan., beginning Aug. 1.
Khajehpour was born into a Muslim family in Mashhad, Iran, and was trained to faithfully follow Shi'ite Islamic law, including a Hajj to Mecca as a teeneager. In 1981, following three months of argument and debate with Christians in his town, Khajehpour converted to Christianity.
While a student at Teheran University — he graduated with a degree in business administration in 1991 — Khajehpour became a member and later an elder of St. Peter Presbyterian Church in Tehran. He also participated in the certificate program of the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church of Iran.
In 1993 he married Nahid Sepehri, a daughter of Presbyterian minister who was executive director of the Iranian Bible Society. Nahid is currently coordinator for the United Bible Societies' West Asia Partnership and is working on translating Today's Persian Version of the Bible into her native language. She will continue that work from their new home in Fort Scott.
In 1994, the Khajehpours were imprisoned for apostasy and evangelism. In 1996, when another wave of persecution of Christians started in Iran, the couple and their one-year-old daughter, Rebeka, fled Iran to Athens, Greece and the following year to Salt Lake City.
In November of 1998 Seattle Presbytery enrolled Mansour as a Commissioned Lay Pastor and evangelist to start an Iranian Presbyterian ministry at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle — the Persian Church of the Good Shepherd.
Mansour, Nahid and Rebeka Khajehpour became US citizens on Feb. 25, 2003 in Seattle. Mansour and Nahid also have a son, Matthew.
In 2005, Mansour entered Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated three years later. Returning to Seattle, he became coordinator for mission and stewardship for Seattle Presbytery, including oversight of the presbytery's dozen ethnic fellowships. He also served as a consultant to the PC(USA)'s Middle East Office.