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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Passing the torch

Lutheran congregation founded by Danes reborn as Arabic church

The children of its 19th-century founders had mostly moved on, leaving Salem Danish Lutheran Church in Brooklyn an island of Scandinavian culture in the increasingly Middle Eastern neighborhood of Bay Ridge.

But rather than letting Salem become a relic to immigrants past — a sort of churchy Ellis Island — its leaders worked to pass along Salem's heritage to its new Arabic neighbors.

In May, Salem Danish was born again as Salam Arabic Lutheran Church. Salam is Salem in Arabic; both words mean peace.

The move marks not only a new beginning for the century-old church, but also a first for the denomination. Salam is the first Arab Lutheran church to be organized within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, though Arab congregations are thriving as missions.


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