Chapter Eleven


Bishop Samuel Gobat

















With the death of bishop Michael Solomon Alexander in 1845, Prussia was entitled to appoint his successor according to the agreement concluded in 1841 between the English and the Prussians. Thus Prussia chose the Swiss Samuel Gobat, member of the Church Missionary Society, as Alexander’s successor. With the arrival of Gobat to his new office, the Jerusalem Bishopric entered a new age. The influence of the German clerics increased at the expense of the English clerics, particularly after 1870. Gobat shifted from converting the Jews, to promoting Protestantism among the local Christians who belonged to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Gobat was the missionary of the Church Missionary Society whose goals were the reform of the Eastern Churches. Thus Gobat sponsored the policy of his society and gradually ignored the line of Alexander, namely, evangelizing the Jews. Gobat, therefore, brought the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society close to him and alienated the London Jewish Society, which his predecessor Alexander was a member.


Alexander restricted his work to the Jews and upheld the content of the letter the Archbishop of Canterbury addressed to the eastern prelates (23 November 1841). He saw himself as the Anglican representative to these Churches, not as a competitor with them in the field of their mission, privileges and powers. In contrast, Gobat sought to integrate the local Christians with himself and he did not view his post as being representative of the Anglican Church to the Eastern Churches, but rather as a local bishop who competed with the old Churches for their privileges and spiritual powers. Therefore, Gobat introduced a basic change to the goal behind the establishment of the Anglican Bishopric in Jerusalem. Several factors contributed to this change. The most important of these factors was Gobat’s unique personality, his persistence in his views, and his determination to carry out his vision.


1-The life of Bishop Samuel Gobat:


Samuel Gobat was born on 26 January 1799 in Crémines, in the French region of Jura, which was annexed to the Swiss canton of Bern after the downfall of Napoleon. By virtue of his birth, he was a Swiss national. He joined the school of his village until he became 15 years old. He was raised in the Reformed Church. In 1821, Gobat joined the Basel Missionary Society. He was known for his extraordinary intelligence. So the society sent him to Paris to study Arabic at the hands of the orientalist, Baron Desacy. He stayed in France one year from 1823 to 1824. He gained good a command of Arabic and read the Koran. In Basel, he was introduced to the top planners of the missionary policy, such as Zeller and Spittler. Gobat was ordained in 1825[1] in Baden where the Lutheran and Reformed Churches united. In the same year, he joined the Church Missionary Society in England, which appointed him a missionary in Abyssinia. Before he held his new post, he went to Islington College for a few months of training. He also accompanied missionary William Jowett in Malta from 1827 to 1829. He visited Palestine, Lebanon and Syria where he improved his Arabic. From 1830 to 1836, he worked as a missionary in Abyssinia and participated in the Arabic translation of the Bible in Malta. At the end of the thirties of the last century, the “Church and British diplomacy gave him a special assignment among the Druze and the Orthodox in Damascus.”[2] He returned to Basel in 1841.


The activity of the Church Missionary Society decreased in Malta following the establishment of the Jerusalem Bishopric and the appointment of a bishop in Gibraltar. The financial difficulties, which the society encountered, forced it to sell its printing press. However, in 1845, a new hope loomed on the horizon for the society when Lord Ashley, Earl of Shaftesbury, voiced his desire to sponsor the projects of the society. Thus the Protestant College was opened under his auspices in Malta to prepare the missionaries to work in the East Mediterranean. Missionaries were supposed to be from the local people of the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean. Gobat was appointed vice president of the college and was sent to London where he was ordained as a deacon according to the rites of the Anglican Church. He arrived in Malta on 13 October 1845. One month after the inauguration of the college in 1846, he received an invitation from the King of Prussia to name him bishop in Jerusalem.


According to the English-Prussian agreement concluded in 1841, the Bishop of Jerusalem was to be appointed alternately by the King of Prussia and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Bunsen and Spittler advised that he be chosen from among several candidates. The Archbishop of Canterbury agreed to the desire of the king. In a letter addressed to Gobat in 30 March 1846 , Pastor Carl Werner lists the reasons why he was chosen as Bishop of Jerusalem:


“And now I must tell you why I believe that you are the fittest man for the post. You have a strong love for the Jewish people; without nourishing enthusiastic anticipations, you yet hold fast the hope of Israel in its fullest sense. You are seeking no object of ecclesiastical ambition, for you hate that anti-Christian spirit which, among the Princes of the Church and their partisans, manifests itself in a love of the power to rule others…Then you combine certain qualities which are rarely to be met with united in the same personality. You are allied in nearly equal measure by birth, education and career to three great and distinct nationalities. By speech a Frenchman, you are German in sympathies, and have become an Englishman by virtue of your connection with British Mission. These circumstances confer upon you in your position important advantages which many other candidates might fail to possess. To these must be added your reputation in the East and in the West. Your name carries weight in both quarters of the world. This is again a special qualification. Finally you are master of precisely those languages with which, in such a position, it would be most desirable for you to be acquainted. In short, dear brother, consider the matter in whatever way I will, I find you entirely calculated to fill up the gap.”[3]


Others pointed out bad qualities, which precluded Gobat’s ordination as a bishop. The opposition against him was led by the London Jewish Society, which thought that the post of bishop of Jerusalem was one of its rights and that the bishop should be selected from among its members. The London Jewish Society nominated missionary Wolf, a converted German Jew. “We have already learned from Gobat himself that his nomination and consecration as bishop in succession of Dr. Alexander had met with considerable opposition in England. The most serious attack, however, took the form of injurious aspersions upon Gobat’s character and behaviour while in Abyssinia. The matter was brought before the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the result of a thorough investigation was to prove Gobat blameless, and to put his accuser to shame.”[4]


Others, including Wolf, accused him of teaching things that contradicted the Anglican doctrine on baptism. However, Gobat asserted his compliance with the Anglican principles and denied the charges of the opposition. Leaders of Tractarianism   protested against his appointment as bishop out of the principle of their opposition to the establishment of the Jerusalem Bishopric in general.[5] The ordination of Gobat to the priesthood and his episcopal consecration aroused challenges to the Archbishop of Canterbury, that he had to curb:  “Prior to his consecration by the Archbishop, it was arranged for Gobat to be first ordained priest by the Bishop of London at a general ordination at St. Paul’s. The opposition decided to stage a public challenge at the ceremony; they appointed a lawyer to be present at the Cathedral and to voice a formal protest. To avoid such a scandal, the ceremony was cancelled and Gobat was ordained at a private ceremony in Fulham Palace a few days later. In July he was duly consecrated by the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace.”[6]


Gobat arrived in Palestine on 30 December 1846, aboard a British naval vessel, one year after the death of his predecessor Alexander. During that year, Nicolayson was the overseer of the affairs of the widowed bishopric.[7] The episcopal jurisdiction of Gobat included vast areas. He continued missionary work in Egypt, Syria and Abyssinia, the countries in which he previously worked. However, we will restrict our study here to Palestine, which the new bishop reached, but without letters of recommendation to the eastern prelates such asedecessor Alexander carried with him.


2- Gobat’s Ecclesiastical vision:


Gobat used to address annual circular letters on the anniversary of the arrival predecessor Alexander to Jerusalem. These circular letters and other official and personal correspondences are viewed as an important source in the history of the Anglican Bishopric. The bishop reviewed in his letters the most important projects that he had completed and other projects which he intended to implement. He requested material and moral support from his readers to implement his projects. A tangible progress can be felt in his plans. While he gradually ignored the mention of the Jews and their news, he placed as his top priority the issue of the local Christians and the need to promote awareness of Scripture in their midst.


On 13 October 1847, Gobat addressed a letter to General Rose discussing revolutionary projects on the level of the ecclesiastical work in the East.  In his view, the Jesuits and the Sisters of Charity were the best example to be followed in the missionary work in the East. These religious did not face extreme difficulties in their mission. On the contrary, the locals sought to deal with them by placing themselves under their protection. In comparing them with the Protestant groups, Gobat says: “We, alike as Protestants and Englishmen, have no such nucleus to begin with; and it is known that in every enterprise of this kind the beginning is the most difficult part.”[8] In other words, the Protestants had to form a nucleus of local Christians to proceed toward a mature and fruitful pastoral work. Gobat asserts the role of religious education in the schools to form this nucleus of local Christians, all the more so because religious education is the salt of the educational process. He proposed that the British government sponsor the establishment of such Anglican schools and that the proposed religious education curriculum in schools be Scripture, not the teaching of the creed and catechism. “Under such circumstances, where are we to get the means of establishing English schools?”[9]


Gobat then moves on from the question of the schools and religious education to another political question, which involves the British presence in the East. He made an assessment of British policy and the extent of its effectiveness:


    “I conceive that the chief fault of the British Government in this country for years past has been to consider the inhabitants of Syria as a nation, whilst there is no nationality, but only sects. This the French and Russians understand very well, and they both have their parties or sects or centers of influence in the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches. This cannot be changed. I believe that if the British Government would undertake to educate and protect the Druses, it would prove the means of getting a footing in this country similar to France and Russia. I should be sorry to see Protestantism, whether episcopal or not, made a means of political intrigue, as is the case with the above Churches. But, on the other hand, I am convinced that if England were to protect Protestantism, i.e., religious liberty, with a strong hand, such a course would be the means of acquiring within a few years the best-grounded, most just, and probably most powerful influence in this country.”[10]


We can conclude from the letter of Gobat to Rose, that the pious dreams, which were entertained, by the London Jewish Society, Bishop Alexander, and the religious people in England who were praying for the conversion of the Jews in the Promised Land were no longer the dreams of Gobat. On the educational level, he saw in the schools the best functional instrument to enlighten the East and to secure its progress. On the religious level, he sought to expand at the expense of the existing Eastern Churches. On the political level, he was seeking to extend British influence through the denominational links similar to what France and Russia were doing. The truth of the matter is that Gobat nullified and reversed Alexander’s policy. This matter was no secret. It was he who said so: “I knew that it was not the object of those who had appointed and sent me to Jerusalem that I should restrict myself to the work of an ordinary local pastor or missionary to the Jews. I was a debtor not only to the Jews, but also to the ignorant Greeks, Romanists, Armenians, Turks…etc.”[11] Gobat hinted by “who had appointed me” to the Church Missionary Society and to his friends at the Basel Missionary Society. Among these friends were Spittler, the pioneer of the German missionary movement and the establishment of German colonies in Palestine. During Gobat’s visit to Switzerland in July and August 1847, he met Spittler and the two laid down together the broadlines of the missionary policy of the bishopric. Spittler sent two assistants to Gobat from the St. Chrischona Missionhaus. They were Palmer and Schick and they were to establish an evangelical community that could live in the Christian Arab environment, not the Jewish environment.[12]


In his circular letter of 1847, Gobat hinted that his mission was “to the unhappy sons of Abraham, and not to them alone.”[13] In order to exit from the Jewish-Anglican ghetto, Gobat closed down the Hebrew College that was assigned to teach the Jews. However, he did not introduce any changes to the institutional system of the London Jewish Society.  Furthermore, he opened a school. “The suppression of the college in favour of primary schools was a significant indication of the new trend to reach the children in despair if converting adults, Jews or Gentiles.”[14] The school was for the benefit of Jewish children but was not restricted to them, “We wish this school to benefit Jewish children primarily, but not exclusively.”[15]  The closure of the Hebrew College and the opening of a school for ten Arab and Jewish children meant the elimination of the unique characteristic of the bishopric as a bishopric for the Jews, not for others.


The new policy, which Gobat started to implement, was certainly not to the satisfaction of the supporters of the Jewish cause. “Gobat did not entirely please the friends of the Jewish cause in England. They, on prophetical grounds, expected the return of the Jews to Palestine while still unconverted, and in their ardent love for the Chosen People were willing to assist with liberal gifts any plans to promote this movement.”[16] Gobat, however, did not list these Old Testament prophecies in his missionary calculations. It became evident to him and to his friends from the experiences of Nicolayson and Alexander in the Jewish circles “that the Jewish religious citadel was impregnable. Small wonder if with such discouragement the missionaries, with Gobat at their head, sought their fortunes elsewhere.”[17] Therefore, he should find an environment in which his efforts could bear fruit. So “the dynamic work of the mission under Gobat became and continued to be with the Eastern Christians.”[18]


Ever since he arrived in Jerusalem, Gobat presented himself as a local bishop representing Protestantism, and equal in grade to the eastern prelates. He developed good relations with the bishops of the small Churches such as the Syrians, Ethiopians and Armenians. The Greek Orthodox boycotted him although he visited the patriarch. As for the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, he refused to recognize him or his episcopal status, and consequently, they did not visit each other.[19]


Gobat mentions the Christian Arabs in his circular letter of 1847 by saying: “As several Arabs attached themselves to us, and others see to be inclined, we are thinking of soon establishing a regular Arab service.”[20] The growth of the Anglican denomination was made at the expense of Orthodoxy. “The Orthodox denomination was a fertile soil for the proselytic activity of the Anglican Bishopric.”[21] The Jews meanwhile, were stubborn and firm in resisting the Protestant mission. The Latins were a strong denomination overseen by the Franciscan Fathers who were not prepared to bargain or do business with the bishop or loose some of their followers in favor of Anglicanism. The Orthodox Church meanwhile, suffered from several factors that have weakened it and became a fertile soil for the Protestant missionaries. These factors included the low-level status of the Arab clergy, lack of religious awareness, lack of schools, and the Arab-Greek power struggle. Gobat described his relation with the Orthodox Patriarch and clergy as being non-sympathetic: “The Greek Patriarch and his clergy hold themselves as much aloof from us as possible. The Patriarch does not even respond to ordinary courtesies…. The people in general are kindly disposed towards us.”[22] So Gobat started sending the Bible-readers to the Orthodox communities. The task of these readers was to read and interpret the Scriptures without tampering with the ecclesiastical or denominational issues. But, “if however, individuals become persecuted by the communion to which they formerly belonged on account of witnessing for the truth, then we receive them.”[23]


3- The early Arab schools and parishes in Palestine 1847-1851:


Gobat began to establish parishes and schools from groups of the local Bible readers, who appeared to be affected by the Bible teachings and the desire to join the Anglican Church. To form a new denomination and to join followers to his Church, Gobat used a fatwa issued by the Mufti of Beirut to give legitimacy to his missionary activity:


“In consequence of the recent conversion of a Druse at Beyrout we have received a fatua (fatwa) (written declaration) from the Mufti of Beyrout, wherein it is expressly stated that it is permitted to the Jews and Druses, subjects of the Porte, to become Christians; and all members of the various Christian congregations may migrate at will from one Church or party to another. This certainly proves, like all the friendly firmans of the Porte, of little practical importance in the first instance. But we may, nevertheless, regard it as a further step towards the desired religious liberty in this country, and we may hope that good fruit may result, to the glory of God and the salvation of men. This fatua in founded upon the Mohammedan axiom that there really exist but two religions, namely, that from God, which leads to God, and that from the devil, which leads to perdition. Now, seeing that all the unbelieving, i. e., non-Mohammedans, belong to the religion of Satan, it must be a matter of perfect indifference with which sect or party of this religion they ally themselves.” [24]


The question, which imposes itself here: is the fatwa correct, or has Gobat fabricated it or perhaps interpreted it in a manner that served his interests? The fatwa is certainly incompatible with the status quo that existed at that time in the Ottoman Sultanate, because Anglicanism was not as yet recognized as an official millet. In any case, whether the fatwa was correct, distorted or fabricated, Gobat depended on it in expanding and consolidating his missionary work. 


The conversion of the Jews was an almost impossible matter because of the strong barrier they built in the face of the Protestant expansion. Moreover, Moses Montefiore continued his inspection visits to Palestine to support the Jewish bastion and to resist the temptations that the missionaries offered to the poor Jews. Thus, the only group left in the arena was the Christian Arabs, and the weak party of those were the Greek Orthodox. It was difficult for the Protestants to convert to their denomination the parishioners of the Franciscans, particularly since the resident Patriarch of Jerusalem, Monsignor Valerga, arrived in Jerusalem in early 1848 to revive the Latin parishes and to increase their numbers. Gobat proceeded from Jerusalem to the rural areas and the cities, establishing schools and building the nucleus of the Anglican congregations.


A-    Jerusalem:


The parish school was opened in Jerusalem in 1847 with 10 students. An English lady ran it. In 1848, there were 26 students in the school. The Jews resisted the school and boycotted its programs at the suggestion of their leaders, who spread the word that the “Jews do not like their children to eat the food of Christians.”[25] It is noteworthy that the school offered a free meal to its students. Bishop Gobat bought a cemetery on Mount Sion and work was completed on building the ‘Christ Church’.  It was the church for which Nicolayson dug the foundations and on which Alexander continued work, following frequent stoppages. The inauguration “took place on the 21st of January (1849) in the presence of a Palestinian Bishop, several priests, and a number of Jews and others. On the same day two Jews were baptized in the newly-consecrated church.”[26] The ceremony of inaugurating the church asserted Bishop Gobat’s isolation and the boycott by the heads of the Christian denominations of the inauguration ceremony, which was not attended by the Russian and French consuls and the patriarchs of the Armenians, Latins and Greek Orthodox. As for the Palestinian bishop whom Gobat mentioned, he was according to Finn the British consul in Jerusalem “the Syrian Bishop of Jerusalem, the prelate of the very small minority of the Jacobites whose rite is a Syriac form of the ancient rite of Antioch. His presence emphasizes the complete isolation of the Anglican Bishopric from all the other ecclesiastical authorities in Jerusalem.”[27] The church could accommodate 250 persons and was built at a cost of 12,000 pounds sterling.[28] It was provided with English, German and Hebrew hymn and liturgical books.[29]


B-  Nablus:


Nablus and the Evangelical congregation in it were mentioned in Gobat’s circular letter of 30 October 1848:[30] Eight or 10 Orthodox persons from Nablus submitted a petition to Gobat declaring that they wanted to leave their Church and to form an Evangelical congregation under the supervision of the Anglican Bishop. Gobat advised them to read the Scriptures, to pray and to stay in their Church until they are expelled or separated from their congregation because of their evangelical beliefs. Following several meetings and correspondence between him and the Nablus group, Gobat sent them a missionary to investigate their spiritual conditions. The missionary discovered that their spiritual conditions were miserable. Ignorance was widespread among these Christians and they had no knowledge of the Scriptures. Several persons and families from Nablus submitted a petition to the missionary demanding that they join the Anglican Church and that a school be opened for them. Gobat acted by buying a house, which could be used as a school and church. He also secured a promise from the Ottoman authorities in Jerusalem and Nablus to care for and protect the school. He employed a teacher from Nablus in the school. A short while later, problems emerged to the surface. An Anglican dignitary was referred to court on charges of dealing with foreigners. However, the fabricated lawsuit ended peacefully and the school was opened on 5 September 1848 with 21 students. One week after its inauguration, the Orthodox Patriarch excommunicated everyone who sent his children to the English school.


C-  Salt:


In 1849, Gobat chose Salt as a springboard of work in East Jordan. Salt is a major city inhabited by Orthodox Christians. The bishop sent them a teacher who was also a Bible reader. It seems that the school did not encounter fierce resistance because “the teacher had allied himself to a local tribe which gave him the customary protection; for another, he himself was careful to make no enemies in earning his living.”[31]


Gobat reported in his circular letter of 1 October 1849 the opening of a school by an Orthodox priest in Salt and another school headed by a teacher: “There was a school of older foundation at Salt, which I had made over, in the interests of peace, to a priest of that place; but as it did not answer, I have established another in the course of summer, under a more efficient master. The Greek Patriarch has taken upon himself to defray the entire cost, and has further promised to retain the master chosen by me, and to admit no other books besides those which I had prescribed; only the natives were not to call it an English school. I deemed this the first step to approximation between the Patriarch and myself.”[32] In another letter he sent to the King of Prussia on 29 December 1851, Gobat asserted “the Christians of Salt beyond the Jordan have again sent a Sheikh to me to request that I would take them under my care. They wish no longer to remain connected with the Greek clergy, who not only do nothing for their instruction and improvement, but who have also destroyed the school, which I had opened for their children. There are about 1100 Christian at Salt; and beyond that place are little groups entirely given to wilderness and ignorance.”[33]


As for why relatively few people joined the Anglican Church, not many of them were religious reasons based on the personal beliefs of the people. However, there were many economic and social reasons for joining, such as securing financial aid and aid in-kind, benefiting from the protection and care provided by the foreign consulates, and obtaining a free education in the missionary schools. The clannish differences on the issues of marriage, inheritance, land and vengeance played a role in the people’s decisions to join different Churches so as to bully the foes.


The prosperity of the bishopric reached its peak after the Ottoman Sultanate recognized Protestantism as an official millet and new missionary societies joined the service of the bishopric.


4-The Anglican bishopric of Jerusalem from 1851 – 1856:

Bishop Gobat cleverly and wisely led the Anglican Bishopric at a critical period between 1851-1856. He succeeded in prompting England and Prussia to implicitly recognize his right to invite the local Christians to the bishopric and to establish an Anglican denomination of the Palestinian Arabs. As for the Ottoman Sultanate, it recognized Protestantism as an official millet just like the other Churches. In this period, Gobat received support and encountered opposition. However, he succeeded in his endeavors. He was truly the real founder of the Anglican Bishopric as a local Church in his age.


A-   The position of the government and the Church in England toward Gobat’s ecclesiastical policy:



After he took office in Jerusalem, Gobat advised the British government to deal with the inhabitants of Syria on a sectarian basis, not on the basis of being one nation. He also encouraged the government to sponsor the Protestant issue in the East, because he saw it as a solid base on which Britain could build its influence in the Ottoman Sultanate.[34] Gobat’s ecclesiastical plan led to the provocation of the Greek Orthodox. On 13 September 1848, the British Foreign Office instructed Gobat through its consul in Jerusalem “forbidding the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem from interfering with the religious beliefs of native Christians.”[35]  Bunsen advised him to be patient so that his action would not be interpreted as political in a bid to win followers from the other denominations or interfere in their powers. Gobat shrewdly answered: “Now, I confess that I am somewhat inexperienced in politics.”[36]


After give-and-take between Gobat and the British government, the issue was referred to Palmerston who gave the following opinion on 20 December 1848: “There can be no objection to the bishop’s giving religious instruction to those who come to him to seek it, whatever sect they may happen to belong to, but he should abstain from seeking out persons of a different creed, and from endeavouring unsought by them to convert them from their own faith.”[37] This very diplomatic answer gave Gobat the green light to continue his policy. The reply was tantamount to a retreat from the bishopric policy declared in 1841, namely the evangelization of the Jews and reluctance to intervene with the local Christians. In fact, Gobat acted as if he was enjoying the full support of the British government. Those who wished to join the Anglican Church expressed their desire “to be made English, not to be Protestant; that the schools were referred to not as Christian, missionary or even Protestant, but simply English.”[38] In the Ottoman millet system at that time, religion and nationality were almost identical, or were viewed to a certain extent as two faces of the same coin.


The truth of the matter is that Gobat embarrassed the leadership of the Anglican Church in England because of his harassment of the Eastern Churches. To start with, the Jerusalem Bishopric was established for the evangelization of the Jews, not the local Christians, because the Anglican Church showed respect and appreciation of these Churches. As for Gobat, he utilized his first years in Palestine in opening missionary schools and forming Anglican semi-parishes from the followers of the Eastern Churches by exploiting the diverse currents and attitudes in the Anglican Church toward the Eastern Churches:


“A third difficulty, and this was the greatest of all, sprang from the antagonism of the two parties in the Church of England, the High and Low. The former holds that the Church is grounded upon the Episcopate, and considers the Greek, Roman, and Anglican communions as the three branches of the One Holy Church of Christ. The Low Church party agrees with Luther in viewing justification by faith alone as the article of the standing or falling Church, and regards all who fight under this banner, Presbyterians, Calvinists, and Evangelical Dissenters, as their brethren in the closest sense of the word. Gobat’s sympathies were with the Evangelical section, and yet he was by no means a party man.”[39]


Gobat called the faction opposing him in the Anglican Church as “the Anglican admirers of the Greek Church.”[40]  The admirers of the Greek Church voiced their indignation at his non-cordial attitude to the local Christians. So Gobat resorted to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sumner, demanding advice. The archbishop replied by a letter dated 8 November 1850 interpreting the attitude of the Anglican Church toward the Greek Orthodox Church. Archbishop Sumner said in his declaration:


“That he (Gobat) would assume no hostile attitude towards the Greek Church, neither initiate any polemical war against her. But, on the other hand the declaration was firm upon this point: If Greek Christians, dissatisfied with the state of their Church, desire scriptural fellowship, and are imbued with the belief that the Anglican Church in doctrine and constitution doth answer to this condition, it were unreasonable to forbid the Bishop to afford to such Christians his help and countenance. It were desirable, indeed, that congregations formed under these circumstances should be shepherded by like-minded priests of their original communion; if, therefore, the charge were undertaken by Anglican clergymen, this was to be looked upon merely as a measure of expediency, in order to preserve the seceders from complete spiritual destitution.”[41]   


This daring declaration, which would strengthen the influence of Gobat and win victory on the question of the Eastern Christians, was only published after 35 years. Perhaps its publication at that time “would have certainly created trouble for the archbishop.”[42] Thus the position of Gobat remained critical and difficult vis-à-vis his clashes with the faction in the Anglican Church supporting the Greek Orthodox Church because he was not allowed to use the reply of the archbishop as evidence justifying his stands.


The overall official and non-official stands of the government and the Church, whether open or secret, toward Gobat’s policy of promoting Protestantism among the followers of the Eastern Churches constituted a positive development in favor of Gobat, particularly after the recognition of Protestantism as an official millet and the fact that the Christian Missionary Society joined the Jerusalem Bishopric to work there. The Greek Orthodox admirers in the Anglican Church did not lay down their arms and did not withdraw from the arena of struggle for the benefit of Gobat, but continued their opposition campaigns. The most important of these campaigns were the following:


- The campaign by Pastor John Mason Neal: Pastor Neal published a statement in English and Greek in 1853 voicing opposition to Gobat’s policy toward the Greek Orthodox Church. Well over 1,000 Anglicans signed the statement. A copy of the statement was sent to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the Orthodox Synod.[43]

- Four Anglican bishops of the admirers of the Greek Orthodox Church led the second campaign. They issued a statement opposing Gobat in November 1853.[44]


As for Gobat, he manipulated the campaigns for his own benefit and the number of sympathizers with him increased. “The whole affair awakened much sympathy for the Bishop, a sympathy which found vent in declarations and confidence and in generous gifts. When his school-house was completed, he might truthfully have said that it had been built for him by his adversaries.”[45]                  


B-   Pioneering views of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV on Church unity:


The British attitude on the issue of the Eastern Churches and the Anglican Bishopric in Jerusalem was characterized by diplomacy and the possibility of interpreting this attitude to give several meanings, depending on the circumstances. However, the Prussian stands lacked the British flexibility and frankly pointed out that Gobat should sponsor a policy of establishing Protestant groups from the followers of the Eastern Churches. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, writing to Gobat on 23 July 1851, assessed the role of Gobat by saying the following:


“According to what Pastor Fliedner has told me concerning the state of things around you, it appears that the dreaded influences emanating from myself against the evangelical life which seemed to have been reviving in the bosom of the old, dead Churches in the Holy Land are beginning to assert themselves. I trust that you will not allow your courage to sink. Your idea of building up small national Churches from out of those communions, in places of compelling the awakened Greeks, Syrians, Copts…etc to become Anglican, Lutheran, or Swiss-Reformed, is a glorious, heaven-inspired, and truly Catholic one. You must not let it go. You will certainly summon into the lists of Pope and Emperor through this stirring up of fresh life in the ancient Churches… but the King who rules over the one and the other will be on your side.”[46]


The king, who is an admirer of religious theory, then moved on to a liturgical subject. He proposed to Gobat to renew the Byzantine liturgy, which focused on the Eucharist, as was the case in the Latin liturgy. He said that with the lapse of time, the Byzantine liturgy lost its attraction and distanced itself from the facts of life and public reality. Therefore, the Jews were not capable of merging with these rites and this obstructed their conversion by the Greek Orthodox Church. The king preferred the renewal of this liturgy and the introduction of the evangelical spirit to it. “I would ask you, Right Reverend Bishop, whether your own persuasion would allow you, in connection with this evangelical revision of the Oriental Liturgies, to take Irenaeus as your guide, and to attempt the re-establishment of the primitive rite? The question is borne upon my mind, who knows whether God will not permit the proper amplification and completion of the Protestant Liturgies to be brought about through the evangelical revision of the rites of the old Churches of the East?”[47]


Despite its complexity, the king’s idea in brief was to offer Protestantism to the oriental people in an oriental fashion. The ideas of the king lost their brilliance and effectiveness in view of the syncretistic attitude that was displayed in them. To start with, the Bishopric of Jerusalem was based on the principle of syncretism between the episcopal-based Anglicanism and the non-episcopal-based Lutheranism. The king complicated this reality by trying to make another syncretism among the different liturgies. Perhaps this was one of the most difficult issues of reconciliation and adaptation, where questions related to dogmas, liturgies, ethnicities and jurisdictions are raised and discussed in one single speech! Therefore, Gobat avoided a frank answer to the king’s proposals and announced in a letter dated on 29 December 1851 his ignorance of the liturgical sciences and preference for the liturgy of the Reformed Church of Switzerland in which he was raised.[48] Gobat’s primary goal was not to reconcile the liturgies or to study the teachings of Saint Irenaeus on the Eucharist as much as to recognize Protestantism as an official millet in the Ottoman Sultanate.


C-   The Ottoman Sultanate’s recognition of Protestantism as an official millet:


The millet system was the legal and legitimate framework of the Christian presence in the Ottoman Sultanate. Through this system, Christian groups grew and developed. Entering this realistic religious framework was the wish of those in charge of the Anglican Bishopric ever since its establishment so that the bishop might legally build churches and schools and establish parishes. It was necessary to give the subjects of the Anglican parishes the feeling of religious and civil protection, which they lost when they separated from their original denomination, and that they find this protection in the Protestant millet whose pastors, believers and institutions enjoyed the protection of England and Prussia.


This wish culminated in April 1851, corresponding to l Muharram 1267 Hegira, in the issuance of the Ottoman firman which included the various denominations of the Protestants as one millet, particularly after Gobat and British diplomacy made intensive efforts and contacts in Istanbul. Needless to say, Gobat was the undisputed leader of this millet. At this point, Protestant societies with their various nationalities and types joined work under the banner of Gobat and the millet system.[49]


D-  New societies and institutions in the service of the bishopric:



1- The Church Missionary Society:


Gobat began his missionary life by working for the Church Missionary Society, which he viewed as a strong ally. So he decided to summon the Church Missionary Society to Palestine: “Naturally, therefore, his heart and his energies turned also in their direction; and he appealed to his old Society to come to his help.”[50] Gobat’s new step was compatible with the recognition of Protestantism as a millet in the Ottoman Sultanate.


In May 1851, the Church Missionary Society representatives held a conference in Jerusalem which Gobat chaired. It was decided to have the Church Missionary Society operate in southern Syria, namely, Palestine, while the American Board would keep northern Syria as its sphere of influence. This decision overlooked the London Jewish Society, which had the credit for the establishment of the Jerusalem Bishopric. Naturally, the goal of the Church Missionary Society was not to invite the Jews to embrace Christianity: “The sole purpose of the Mission was to influence the bishops and clergy of the Eastern Churches in favour of spontaneous and internal reform, and with this view to circulate the Scriptures and the Anglican Prayer-book.”[51]


In August 1851, Friedrich Augustus Klein arrived in Jerusalem, as the appointed head of the Church Missionary Society. Klein was a graduate of the Basel Institute and Islington College. Along with him came his secretary Sandreczki. On this occasion, the Church Missionary Society in Britain issued a statement explaining its policy in Palestine. The statement and the agreement between Gobat and the Church Missionary Society were received with opposition in England. The admirers of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Anglican Church criticized the statement. Four Anglican bishops issued a statement after the Church Missionary Society statement. The campaigns launched by the opposition did not shake the agreement, which Gobat reached with the Church Missionary Society. Gobat was the “guide and philosopher, and the Society was to supply the funds and the personnel.”[52] The bishop kept his schools and missions in Jerusalem, Nablus and Salt. He gave full freedom to the Church Missionary Society to open its schools and centers in Palestine and Jordan. The Church Missionary Society objective was the same as that of Gobat: “To enlighten the other Christians who had fallen victim of error and ignorance. The methods were also the same: schools, distribution of Bibles, gatherings for reading the Bible and discussion. The inducements were again the same: board and clothing to pupils, salaries to teachers and colporteurs, medical relief accompanied by preaching, and temporal relief to those deemed worthy of promising.”[53]


2-The Prussian Deaconesses of Kaiserwerth on the Rhine (Das Diakonissen Mutterhaus Kaiserwerth am Rhein):


The founder of this society and its president was Pastor Theodore Fliedner, who in 1846 visited London where he got acquainted with Bishop Samuel Gobat who was appointed bishop in Jerusalem. The two agreed that the Prussian Deaconesses carry its missionary activity in Jerusalem. After Bishop Gobat started his work in Jerusalem, he asked Fliedner in 1850 to provide him with two deaconesses. Gobat’s circular letter on 30 October 1851, mentioned the deaconesses by saying:


“In the course of this year a new branch of activity has been developed. Seeing that last year epidemic illness raged so fiercely for several months that there was scarcely one family free from dangerous illness, and as no suitable nurses were to be had, I wrote to Pastor Fliedner at Kaiserwerth, and begged him to send two deaconesses to tend our sick, to visit systematically our women converts, and if possible to take the place of our female teachers in cases of illness. In April came Herr Fliedner himself, bringing with him four deaconesses, two of whom are maintained by a Prussian women’s association, and the two others by myself. They are to nurse our converts and also other patients. They live together, and receive into the house such patients as require special care and attention. Besides this, they visit regularly among our poor, more particularly the female converts and those who are anxiously seeking the truth…Good results are already visible.”[54]


Fliedner arrived in Jerusalem on 17 April 1851, accompanied by the four women deaconesses. He chose a small house not too far from the site of the Anglican Christ Church. It was a two-storey house. The ground floor was used as an accommodation for the girls and it was the nucleus of the Talitha Kumi School.[55] The upper floor consisted of two rooms and was used as an eight-bed hospital, which was run by a doctor from the hospital of the London Jewish Society. The hospital received the sick from all the denominations in Jerusalem. In the first year, 100 patients reported to the hospital. The women deaconesses opened a school under the management of deaconess Charlotte Pilz. It came to be known as the Charlotte school, which was named after her.[56]


3- Hospice of the Knights of St. John (Das Hospiz des Johanniter Ordens):


In 1850, Bishop Gobat asked King Friedrich Wilhelm IV to build in Jerusalem a hostel to receive the German pilgrims. The Prussian king agreed and offered him in 1851 a sum of money to build the proposed hostel. In addition to this, Gobat bought another hostel near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 1858. The management of the hostel distributed the Scriptures free of charge to the tenants and granted them a pilgrimage certificate issued by the ‘Jerusalem Society’ (Der Jerusalem Verein). In 1869, the Ottoman Sultanate granted to Prussia the remaining archeological site of the Hospice of the Knights of St. John, known popularly as the Muristan.   


E-   The impact of the Crimean war (1854-1856) and the Hatti Humayun (1856) on the growth of the bishopric and its relations with citizens:


England, France and Sardinia sided with Turkey in declaring war against Russia. The war was fought in the Crimean Peninsula. From the Protestant viewpoint in Palestine, a Russian victory would be a blow to the Protestant presence in the East. However, a victory of Turkey with the help of its allies and the issuance of the Hatti Humayun would be a victory for Protestantism and more religious freedom, which the Hatti Humayun guarantees. However, the difference between the content of the Hatti Humayun and the existing reality was vast. The public interpreted Turkey’s victory in the Crimean war in their own way: “The Muscovite Giaour (infidel) had the temerity to menace the Padishah. Whereupon the Caliph ordered his vassals, the English Giaour and the French Giaour, to come and conquer him. They obeyed the Padishah’s command, and drove the Muscovite Giaour back.”[57]


On 30 March 1856, the bells of the Nablus mission tolled. When the Ottoman governor of Nablus asked Gobat for a justification for the tolling of the bells, he answered that he did so on the strength of the content of the Hatti Humayun. Two days later, French and English flags were raised on the building of the mission. This culminated in the acts of disturbances that followed, a Muslim was wounded and a Christian was killed.[58]


The outcome of this period in the history of the Jerusalem Bishopric (1851-1856) was the inclination of the bishopric toward the Christian Arabs at the expense of evangelizing the Jews. Protestantism became a millet just like other Christian millets. New societies appeared to work in the bishopric at the expense of the London Jewish Society, which had monopolized Protestant missionary work for a long decade. Gobat became financially independent because he depended on several sources of finance, such as individual donations and the British financing funds. The most important of these was the Jerusalem Diocesan Missionary Fund, which was created in Britain in 1852 to finance the projects of the bishopric. At that age, 1856, Gobat’s schools were flourishing in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus and Jaffa: “Of the total of 260 pupils in six schools, 39 were children of unconverted Jews, 16 children of Jewish proselytes and 6 children of the Samaritans. The remainder were Arab children including 68 of Protestant parents.”[59]


5-The Jerusalem Anglican bishopric from 1856-1879:


In the second half of the nineteenth century in Palestine, there was a remarkable increase in the number of missionary institutions, schools and parishes. This increase was not restricted to the Anglican Church, but also included the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. There were well over 20 Orthodox schools run by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, which was established in 1882. The Latin Patriarch summoned dozens of religious orders and congregations of various specializations to work in the Jerusalem diocese. Anglican Church schools also increased, and they were of two types. One type was directly attached to the bishop, and the second type consisted of schools for the missionary societies under the supervision of the bishop. These were British, German and American societies.


A-  The schools:


There were seven schools for the Anglican Bishopric in Jerusalem in 1860:


- The Elementary Parochial School (boys).

- The Elementary Parochial School (girls).

- The Preparatory Parochial School (boys).

- The Preparatory Parochial School (girls).

- The Prussian Deaconesses School (girls).

- The London Jewish Society School (boys)

- The London Jewish Society School (girls).


The first four schools are one institution, which was established in 1847, but divided to four branches. The last two schools were one institution with two branches. Outside Jerusalem, it was difficult to determine the number of the schools because of the frequency of their closing and re-openings in view of the fact that Gobat could not finance them or because of the opposition of the Ottoman authorities to the establishment of these schools. The most important schools which continued to offer their services were the schools in Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Lod, al-Ramla, Jaffa, Nablus, Rafidia, Zababdeh, Borqeen, Shafa Amer and Salt. Each of these schools had 10 to 50 students. One person performed the role of superintendent and teacher. These schools were usually for boys, not girls. Some of the Gobat schools and the schools of the societies were turned for a short period of time into orphanages and accommodation places for the Lebanese children in the aftermath of the incidents of Lebanon in 1860.


In 1871, Gobat conceded his schools to the Protestant societies operating in the bishopric so as to alleviate the financial burden which he had to carry. He conceded the schools of Bethlehem and Beit Jala to the Berlin Missionary Association in 1871. In 1873, he conceded the schools of Shafa Amer and Salt to the Church Missionary Society. In 1876, he conceded the remaining schools to this society, but kept the Jerusalem parochial schools with its four branches. He finally conceded supervision over it in 1877 to the Church Missionary Society It was his best school and was the closest to his heart.


B-  Missionary societies:


The oldest missionary society in Palestine in Gobat’s era was the London Jewish Society; the society lost its major role in the bishopric because of his inclination toward the Church Missionary Society, to which he gave priority for work among the Christian Arabs at the expense of the Jews. The Jews continued to uphold their traditional position of animosity to the missionary societies. Joseph Barclay, president of the London Jewish Society, after the death of Nicolayson in 1856, reported that there were 144 Jewish worshippers in the ‘Christ Church’ in 1865.[60] Alexander McCaul “had a ready answer to the criticism of the London Jewish Society for the meagerness of the numbers of converts it made from Judaism. The work of the Society, he maintained, was to promote Christianity amongst the Jews, not to convert them, that was the work of God.”[61] Therefore, the missionaries of the society became less aggressive and less enthusiastic in converting the Jews, whose leaders resorted to more flexible and more diplomatic methods to resist the missionaries of the society, such as seeking the help of the Hatti Humayun and the Ottoman firmans which guarantee religious freedom to all the millets in the Sultanate. The most important missionary societies, English and German, operating in the bishopric then were the following:


1- The Church Missionary Society:


The Church Missionary Society had three interlocked transitory goals. First was the opening of the schools, and this led to the second goal of promoting the evangelical spirit in the Orthodox Church so it could perform its role in enlightening the East, and this was the third goal. The Church Missionary Society had remarkable success in achieving its first goal. However, its success in achieving the second goal was relative, and it failed in achieving the third goal. In the final analysis, the Church Missionary Society worked through its schools and missionaries among the Christians. Tibawi collected several figures on the number of Protestant schools in Palestine in 1886-1887 and he summed up his findings in one single set of figures: there were 57 schools in the Jerusalem consular area with 2,232 students (boys 1,184 - girls 1,048) and 96 teachers. The lion’s share of these figures belonged to the Church Missionary Society, which had 45 schools, 74 teachers and 1760 students.[62] The rest was shared by the other Protestant societies. Most students of the Church Missionary Society were Christian Arabs. The curricula of the Church Missionary Society schools included the Scriptures, general history, geography, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, philosophy, logic, English and Arabic.


2-The Society for Promoting Female Education in the East:


The society had a large school in Nazareth and small schools in the villages.


3-The Scottish Tabeetha Mission:


The mission had a school in Jaffa known as the Arnott school. It was named after one of its woman teachers, Jane Walker Arnott.


4- St. Chrischona Society and the Syrian Orphanage:


Two of the St. Chrischona brothers came to Jerusalem in 1846 to work in the Arab environment. Two other brothers joined them in 1848. The brothers opened a small trade school because they were tradesmen who lived from the work of their hands. However, the brothers failed in their endeavors. So some of them went back home while others joined Gobat or other societies in Palestine. A second project to open a school in Jerusalem in 1854 also failed, when Spittler, the founder of the brothers, sent teacher Johann Ludwig Schneller to Jerusalem accompanied by his wife and six of St. Chrischona brothers.


Schneller did not give up in the face of failure and defeat. So he bought land outside Jerusalem in which he opened a school under his supervision. The school prospered after the 1860 events in Lebanon as he received in his school the orphaned Lebanese and Syrian children. The school was known then as the Syrian Orphanage or the Schneller school: “the children slept on beds of straw. Each bed could accommodate four children. Schneller himself undertook to teach them how to read and write in Arabic and German. The brothers trained them in some manual trades. The number of children was increasing as time went on. It reached 60 children in 1870 and 126 children in 1880. Schneller formed a consultative commission to offer advice and counsel for the purpose of promoting the orphanage, but the heavier burden fell on Schneller himself.”[63] The school developed and opened branches for teaching trades, such as carpentry, blacksmithing, and shoe making. The orphanage alleviated the gravity of the catastrophes and wars in the East. “It opened its doors to the Armenians in the aftermath of the massacre committed in Armenia in 1894.  In 1903, a branch was added to it to accommodate blind boys and girls. In 1906, an agricultural branch was added to it in Bir Salem and another branch in al- Mkhaimeh. In 1910, a secondary section and a section for the training of teachers were added to it.”[64]


 The founder Schneller School died in 1896 and was succeeded by his son, Theodore Schneller, who had been working with his father since 1855. The Evangelical League, which the founder Schneller formed in Cologne, Germany in 1889, took over the Syrian Orphanage. The league financed the school and supervised its development. By the end of the nineteenth century, the school became one of the largest evangelical educational institutions in Palestine. “The number of orphans who were educated in this school and graduated, since its establishment until 1910 stood at 1,483 students, including 1,256 orphaned boys, 115 orphaned girls, 68 blind boys, and 44 blind girls. They learned how to read and write by using the bulgy letters and how to make mats, brushes and baskets.”[65]


5- The Prussian Deaconesses of Kaiserwerth on the Rhine (Das Diakonissen Mutterhaus Kaiserwerth am Rhein):


The German deaconesses came to Jerusalem in 1851. They had the school of Talitha Kumi, the Charlotte school, and an eight-bed hospital in Jerusalem. In 1856, the deaconesses bought, with the help of Prussian Queen Elizabeth, a land outside Jerusalem and began to build a hospital on it in 1859. However, the area of the land was not sufficient to accommodate the hospital. Therefore, the foundation stone was laid on the ground on that land for the new Talitha Kumi School in 1866. The building was completed in 1886. The school had 89 students. The hospital continued to offer its services in Jerusalem until a land was purchased outside Jerusalem near the Talitha Kumi School in 1890. The hospital was built in 1894. “The residents of Jerusalem called it the al- Majidi hospital because the Germans demanded that every patient admitted to the hospital pay an Ottoman majidi riyal regardless of how long he stays in it.”[66]

6 – The Jerusalem Society (Der Jerusalem Verein):


The aim of the Jerusalem Society was to support the Protestant institutions and the German presence in the East. Dr. F. A. Strauss, a pastor and traveler who visited Palestine in 1845, established the society in 1852. German religious and political figures joined it. The society opened branches in the various cities and sponsored several projects and institutions in Palestine. It published a magazine on the activity of the German Evangelical Church in Palestine. It also established a missionary center in Bethlehem in 1860. It dispatched Brother Muller of the St. Chrischona Society to Bethlehem where he established a school in cooperation with Gobat. Muller bought land outside the town on which he built a school, a house and a prayer hall. Mrs. Muller paid attention to the women’ sector in the city by teaching women needlework and embroidery and took care of 20 orphaned boys. There were 40 Protestant families in Bethlehem. Muller opened a similar center in Beit Jala in 1865. Johann Ludwig Schneller succeeded Muller in Bethlehem in 1884 and started building the Christmas Church in 1887. The Church was inaugurated in 1893.


The Jerusalem Society opened an orphanage in Bethlehem in 1896 to accommodate the Armenian children. In Beit Jala, the Protestant activity, which was sponsored by the Jerusalem Society, suffered a violent setback in he aftermath of the killing of an Orthodox girl in a quarrel between the Orthodox and the Protestants which led to the evacuation of the Protestants to Karak in Jordan for six months in 1885, after which they returned home after paying the blood money (Diaya) of the killed girl.[67] 


Two attempts sponsored by the Jerusalem Society to settle in Hebron and Beit Sahor failed. The total number of the Protestant Arab beneficiaries of the services of the Jerusalem Society remained limited to 340 persons in 1910.[68]

7-The Lepers’ Hospital:


The Lepers’ Hospital was built on land outside Jerusalem in 1867 through the cooperation of several charitable societies and benefactors from Germany in coordination with Gobat. The hospital was expanded and was transferred in 1887 to another building accommodating 60 patients.


8-The Children’s Hospital:


A German figure called Der Grossherrzog Von Mecklenburg-Schwerin pledged to build a children’s hospital in Jerusalem following a visit he made there along with his wife in 1872. The hospital was opened in 1875. It was also known as the Maria Charity Institution after his wife. By the end of the year, 72 children were treated in the hospital.[69]


There were other German societies, which operated in Palestine during the era of Gobat. The most important of these were the Moravian Missionary Society, which supported the Lepers’ Hospital in Jerusalem. The Berlin Missionary Association participated in the work of the missionary centers in Bethlehem and Beit Jala. Two American societies participated in the Gobat projects; they were the Mission Committee of the Episcopal Church of North America, which opened a school in Jaffa, and the Friends Society, which opened a school for girls and a school for boys in Ramallah. Among all these British, German and American societies, the British Church Missionary Society was the pioneer possessing more abundant resources and personel. Protestant groups loyal to Gobat rose around these societies and around the British and German missionaries. These groups became later the nucleus of the Protestant Arab Anglican and Lutheran Evangelical denominations.


C-  The Arab Parishes:


The parochial presence in the Anglican Church proceeded alongside the schools which Gobat founded and which were overseen by the Church Missionary Society. The missionaries participated in establishing the parishes from the followers of the established Churches in Palestine. Schools were the entrée to the pastoral work. The Arab parishes became a tangible reality, which Gobat recognized, in his last circular letter in 1877: “By reason of the differing tongues, we have now three congregations in Jerusalem, to wit, the German, presided over by Dr. Reiniche, their pastor, sent from Berlin; the English, chiefly composed of Jewish proselytes, under the superintendence of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews; and the Arabic, under the care of missionaries of the Christian Missionary Society. But, thank God, all these different pastors and congregations dwell together in brotherly love, although small, trifling, personal misunderstanding sometimes arise.”[70] James Finn, the British consul in Jerusalem, proposed the building of a church for the Arab congregation. The church was built in 1874, and was known as the St. Paul Church.[71] Gobat says that dealing with the Arab congregation in Jerusalem was not an easy matter for the pastor. The second important center was in Nazareth, with five centers affiliated with it. They were Jafa of Nazareth, Kafr Kanna, al-Mjaidel, Shafa Amer and Raineh. In 1871, there were 1,000 Protestants in Nazareth. Work on the building of the Nazareth church began in 1862 and was inaugurated by Gobat on 1 October 1871. In 1882, the Nablus church was built. It was less important than the Nazareth and the Jerusalem churches. Salt was the main center in East Jordan. Gobat entrusted the Church Missionary Society to oversee the Salt congregation. In his circular letter of 13 November 1876, Gobat said: “Three years ago I resigned it to the Church Missionary Society. It has a school and congregation under the care of a converted Greek priest.”[72]


From the members of the small Arab congregation and as time went on, other persons appeared seeking to be ordained. In turn, they became the pastors of these congregations. During the pastoral visit in which Gobat inaugurated the Church of Nazareth in 1871, he ordained three pastors, including two Arabs.[73] Despite the special attention which Gobat gave to the Arab congregation, continued to suffer from several weaknesses: “the spiritual indifference of the natives, the powerful influence and opposition of the Eastern Churches, and the insignificance of our missionary apparatus and the scantiness of our means…The missions were equally short of native colporteurs, catechists, and of course ministers. The Church Missionary Society tried to remedy this difficulty by opening in 1871 of a Preparandi Class of four students under Klein.”[74] The following table will show the extent of the growth of the Arab congregation and other congregations and the development of the services offered in the Anglican Bishopric of Jerusalem.[75]








European Missionaries






European Lay Agents






Native and Hebrew-Christian Clergymen






Native and Hebrew-Christian Teachers






Native and Hebrew-Christian Adherents
























Medical Mission (opened 1842 & hospital opened 1844):






Medical Staff


















Visits at Homes










Within one third of a century (1846-1879), Bishop Gobat built the structure of the Anglican Church in Palestine actively and energetically and laid down the foundations of the pastoral work through the congregations and schools in the Christian Arab environment. Earlier, the work of the bishopric was restricted to the Jewish environment. Gobat opened the doors of his diocese to the English and German missionary societies. He is very much like the Latin Patriarch Valerga, who is viewed as the man who really gave life to the Catholic presence in Palestine.


On 30 December 1871, the multi-national Anglican community celebrated the 25th anniversary of Gobat’s assumption of his episcopal duties in Jerusalem. The English, German, Jewish and Arab congregations participated in the jubilee celebrations. The bishop was then 72 years old. He served as head of his office until 1879. In May 1878, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in Switzerland when he was visiting his sons, grandchildren and friends. He returned to Jerusalem on 10 December 1878, still suffering from the consequences of the hemorrhage. He died on 11 May 1879 at the age of 80, of which he spent 33 years in Palestine. “His end was very peaceful and happy, and his last words, full of power and faith, not only showed his own strong and childlike confidence in his God, but also filled the hearts of those who were with him with gratitude and joy. Thus, when his son reminded him that he, as a child of God, had no need to be afraid of any evil in the dark valley of the shadow of death, the Bishop smiled and whispered: ‘It is not dark’.”[76] These were his last words. He was buried in Christ Church in Jerusalem.


Through his strong personality, Bishop Gobat assembled the elements of the Anglican existence in Palestine, which was made of the English, German, Arab and Jewish congregations. He coordinated the work of the various missionary societies. He melted all these elements and ethnic groups into one pot to the extent that the Germans accused him of favoring the English while the English accused him of favoring the Germans. Thus he achieved the unity of the German and English Churches, which was the wish of the King of Prussia. However, this unity did not last for a long time. A few years later, Germany began to complain about its low status in the agreement. The unity which was forged by Bunsen and Howley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in London was shattered, and the one Church split into two: an English Anglican Church and a German Lutheran Church.