Every year on a Sunday in late May the PC(USA) spends time celebrating, reflecting upon and learning about the long and rich history of the Presbyterian movement in America. Heritage Sunday falls closest to May 21, the opening day of the first General Assembly meeting in 1789.
The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) prepares bulletin inserts in honor of Heritage Sunday, with the topic changing every year. In the past, themes have included Presbyterian mission in Korea, psalms and hymns, communion tokens and Abraham Lincoln’s funeral sermon. Visitors to the PHS website can access past Heritage Sunday inserts all the way back to 2001.
This year, the bulletin inserts — which are created for use by congregations across the country — feature the election story of the Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Moderator of the 214th General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio.
This year marks 20 years since Abu-Akel became moderator, an event that made him the first Arab American to lead a major U.S. denomination. During his speech, Abu-Akel shared stories of his childhood, his parents’ faith, his witnessing of the 1948 war in Palestine and how these things affected his relationship with Christ.
“It’s OK to be afraid,” he said to those gathered before him in Columbus. Referring back to his childhood, Abu-Akel remembered that boy who had discovered “and is still discovering, that Jesus Christ is the only hope for a broken world.”
In preparation for May 22, PHS has shared a video of Abu-Akel’s acceptance speech at the 2002 Assembly. Uploaded to the Society’s YouTube channel, the video is also accessible on the Heritage Sunday webpage at history.pcusa.org/hs alongside the pdfs of the bulletin insert.