تاريخ بناء كنيسه قصر الدوباره
   

THE WISE BUILDER



“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is
Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 3: 10 &11





A booklet on the history of
Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church
&
Its Pastor and Founder
Rev. Dr. Ibrahim Said



--------------------------------------- 


FOREWORD

This brief booklet is to honour and commemorate the commendable efforts that our recently departed pastor, Rev. Dr. Ibrahim Said expanded in the building of  Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church.

One cannot but praise God and give Him all the glory for having blessed this project and brought it to completion.
In His perfect timing, God allowed our gracious pastor to complete all the details of the church building before his service on earth ended and before he heard His Saviour’s words:

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”. 

May the memory and the efforts of our gracious departed pastor be an encouragement to those who seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
May they work to serve God and to grow His Kingdom.

To God be the glory forever!

K. M.    
   --------------------------------------------------     



   

A Brief History of
Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church
by
Founder
Rev. Dr. Ibrahim Said

In 1930, I was invited to preach at a weekly worship service where the congregation was made up of sons and daughters of the (Arab) Evangelical community in Cairo, of Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian origins. I gratefully accepted the invitation. They used to meet in one of the halls of the’ English Mission College’ on ‘Gad’ ground in Fagallah. Weekly attendance ranged between 30 and 40. This became known as ‘The Evangelical Gathering for Syrians’. The late Hanna Khabaz had been their preacher.

The invitation was extended to me once more by Elder Iskandar Saad and his colleague, that man of good reputation, the late Mr. Assaad Kawkabany. A few months later, I found myself preaching regularly at that meeting. In 1932, the Evangelical Presbytery of Lower Egypt named that new congregation,                ‘The Evangelical Gathering for Syrians’.
At the time, I was on staff at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Since I was expected to devote all my time to my teaching duties, I felt compelled to ask the Synod for their permission to take on this preaching responsibility.
In 1932, Synod approved my request and the Syrian Evangelical Congregation agreed to partially support me, since the Synod was not in a good financial position.
Attendance grew steadily and 1932 it started to outgrow the small worship space.  We then made an agreement with the Administration of the Y.M.C.A. in Cairo, that we would move our meetings to one of their buildings at 60 Sharia Ibrahim Pacha St. We took that step reluctantly, fearing that even that new place may not be large enough to hold our growing numbers.
In 1935, two faithful women, the late Mrs. Fareeda Shaheen Makarious and Mrs. Mariam George Zeidan, introduced the idea of raising funds for a church building. One of them made a donation of 50 EGP and the other 65 EGP to the fund. Those two donations were the seeds that bore fruit to this idea. Other donations started coming in from members of the community, bringing the total to 482 EGP.

The Lord blessed this congregation. Numbers started growing as other Egyptians, mostly University and College students began worshipping with us as did members of the Wissa, Khayat and Abaskharoun families.

Those recent adherents expressed their desire to join the congregation. In 1936, they were welcomed by the administration. The Chairman was Rev. Ibrahim Said, members of the committee were:  Elders Assaad Khalil Dagher, Assaad Kawkabany and Iskandar Saad.  Based on this blessed step forward, twelve new members were accepted. At their forefront was the late saintly, Mr. Wassef Khayat and his mother, Mrs. Amin (Bek) Khayat, Mr. Naguib Kelada, Mr. Yacoub Fam and others.

Some members sought the opinion of the Evangelical Presbytery of Lower Egypt in this matter of accepting Egyptians. As the Synod had previously approved it, it appointed a committee to study the matter with those in positions of responsibility. This committee met regularly for over a year, finally, the majority agreed to approve this step forward. Heading them was Elder Khaleel Thabet Bek, Editor in Chief of “Al Mokattam” newspaper.

In January, 1938, Presbytery decided to dissolve the Gathering by the name of “The Evangelical Gathering for Syrians” with the hope of restructuring it in the future. This remained the case until 1939.
In the meantime, people kept flocking to the Y.M.C.A. Hall until it could no longer hold all the worshippers.
At that time, I was Secretary General for the Nile Christian Press, so I asked the Administration of the Press for permission to build a bigger hall in their building at #79 Ibrahim Bacha St.  It was taken for granted that I would be responsible for overseeing the project.
We received approval from their office in London and built the “Miss Van Summer” Hall, with a seating capacity of 700, dedicated to this congregation. We moved there in 1940, only a few months after the beginning of World War II.

In January 1940, the Board decided to act upon the decision they had taken earlier. So, in January 1938, the church was organized on a new basis, now everyone would be treated equally! So, Dr. Fares Nemr  Pacha and Alexan Abaskharoun  Pacha were installed as Elders having unanimously been voted in by the church members. It was named “Ibrahim Pacha St. Evangelical Church”.
I was unanimously voted in as Pastor of the Church.
My official Installation as Minister of the church took place on March 25th, 1940.
Once again, the idea of building a church was revived! Registrations resumed in the years 1938, 1939, and 1940. Finally, donations in October 1941 reached around 2,000 EGP.
We were now searching for property where we could build our spiritual home. Mr. Kamel Bishay offered me a property that had a building on it at 7 Sultan Hussein St. Its area was 2340 sq. metres, its sale price was 1,300 EGP.
I consulted Mr. Emile Alexan and Mr. Elias Mirshak. They came and surveyed the land and it gained their approval. They encouraged me greatly and urged me to buy it since it satisfied our goals of being both centrally located and at such a low price.

At that time, the church funds were around 2,000 EGP. The landlords were asking for 4,000 EGP cash as a first installment. I shared with Mr. Elias Mirshak my concerns that we may not have sufficient funds. He then expressed his readiness to step in and assume the church’s financial legal responsibility when the final contract is signed. He made the commitment to also add 1,500 EGP as interest to the Building Fund. This would then make it possible to buy another piece of land where we could build the church.

On Nov. 1st 1941, Mr. Elias Mirshak had travelled to Lebanon. During his absence, I remained in constant touch with the “Al Daromolly Pacha” family to buy that piece of property. After much effort, I succeeded in obtaining their approval for  purchasing the property. I then sent Mr. Mirshak a telegram on November 7th, 1941 asking for a confirmation of his earlier verbal commitment. He responded by telegram, assuring me of his verbal commitment. Next I asked the capable, well known lawyer, Mr. Saba Pacha Habashy to write up the Sales Contract with the representative of the Daramolly Pacha family, Mr. Mohammed Ali Namazy Pacha. Here I would make mention of that family’s generous donations of nearly 2,000 EGP to the fund, which they then deducted from the price agreed upon earlier.
Mr. Elias Mirshak returned from Lebanon Nov. 15, 1941, I showed him what had transpired and asked him to kindly put in writing his verbal commitment. He gave me his written commitment dated Nov. 20th, 1941. He and Mrs. Mirshak donated 300 EGP so the church could purchase this particular plot on which to build the church.

In light of our commitment to buy the plot, we resumed receiving donations and even made the appeal from the church pulpit. We held three meetings at the home of Mr. Emile Alexan, Mr. McLaghlan, former Dean of the American University in Cairo, used to meet with us. The Lord crowned our efforts with great success as contributions at the National Bank on Nov. 25th 1941 totalled 4000 EGP. We were able, with God’s help, to sign and close the Final Sale Contract in December 1941!

There had been registry issues relating to the property. It was not in our capacity to cancel the rental agreement that existed between the owners and the renters at that time.
This remained the case until May 1944 when we were finally able to obtain Royal Decree # 11 to build the church! Donations continued pouring in once more.  God paved the way and presented us with a golden opportunity. In September, 1947, the Minister of Finance sent out an order to release the Land immediately!                 
  
Our next step was to sell the ruins of the house that was worth 2,600 EGP. This became the first seed money, in addition to what Dr. Fares Nemr Pacha paid, 2,500 EGP February 1947. This was the balance of what he had committed himself to which was 4,000 EGP. After he passed away to be with his Lord and King, his family fulfilled his Will by donating to the church another 1,000 EGP bringing the total amount to 5,000 EGP.
Early December 1947, we celebrated laying the foundation for Kasr el Doubara Evangelical Church by ‘EGYCO’ company using the “SIMPLEX” method.

In June 1948 we agreed with Engineer contractor Adly Habeeb Abdel Sayed, with the support and the supervision of his father, Mr. Habeeb Abdel Sayed, to erect the building and to be responsible for painting it for the sum of 30,000 EGP. This included the woodwork and the electrical wiring for both Wings of the church.  The other sections of the building were completed by other contractors.

Just before Easter 1948, we received the biggest surprise in the history of the building of the church! Mrs. Anissa Wissa, widow of Aziz Bek Hanna Saleh, donated the funds for the Eastern Wing in memory of her late husband. The sum of money donated reached 5,000 EGP and increased until it reached 7,000 EGP.
On Easter morning, yet another surprise! We received a card from Mr. Elias Mirshak and his good wife, Wadia, announcing their commitment to fund the West Wing and designated to be the home for the Minister of the church and his family. Contributions continued to pour in from this couple totaling 10,000 EGP. This more than covered the cost of building the West Wing and a considerable amount of the total building funds.

My heart was overflowing with thanks to God! Once more I became hopeful.          I was encouraged and had this firm conviction that the building would indeed become a reality with two strong wings! Previously I used to envision the church building as being in the shape of a bird. That bird used to hang over the earth with no wings. Since God provided us with “Two Wings” it became possible for that bird to hover with victory and joy allowing the cross that crowned the tower to become clearly visible from every angle in the city, until obstructed by the building of Mogama3 El Tahrir.
No sooner had I announced those two pieces of good news that contributions started pouring in like heavy rains! Ladies, young and old, raced to remove their jewellery and placed them in the Offering plates. Gold crosses, bracelets and necklaces. Those were all kept as sacred reminders of the many sacrificial offerings. They were too valuable to sell. The following is an Inventory of the jewellery:
   
   
4 gold bracelets ---------------------------------------------------------------- Anonymous
2 crosses and chains --------------------------------------------------------- Anonymous
I gold ring ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Anonymous   
I gold earring made of ½ British pounds ---------------Miss Mounira Hanna Mishriky
1 gold cross and chain ------------------------------------------------ Mrs. Azmy Alphonse
1 gold chain and bracelet ---------------------------------------- Mrs. Neema Khalil Thabet
1 cross and gold chain and 5 gold bracelets ----------------- Miss Alice Shenouda
1 gold ring and 1 gold earring ------------------------------------- Miss Alice Shenouda
1 gold bracelet ----------------------------------- Mrs. Lily Samuel, wife of Mr. Radi Kelada
1 gold bracelet ------------------------------------------------------- Mr. Kamel Rizk Sahyoun



In addition, a gold ring with an inscribed letter, most probably belonging to Miss Janette Hanna and a small gold cross and chain from an anonymous donour.
There was another donation of nearly 300 EGP from a man whose job and attire were simple.  He had a generous spirit and a strong faith. That man used to sell “foul medames”. He is now in glory, I refer to the late’ Mr. Ghobrial Girgis, hero of Kollali’.
Miss Anissa Ibrahim, the blind evangelist, generously contributed a similar amount in several installments. There were also those donations that kept coming in from an ‘unknown soldier’, who referred to himself as simply ‘member of your church’.  I regret I never had a chance to meet that person.
Another ‘unknown soldier’ kept sending in regular donations of 5 EGP. He never gave his name, I found out later that he had become ill and had passed away. I regret I didn’t have his name as I would have visited him.

Here I would make special mention of the great efforts of our respected Elder, Alexan Abaskharoun Pacha, who is now in glory. Thanks to his efforts, the church once more organized a Church Council after it had been dissolved. He, with his gracious family, headed by Mr. Emile Alexan, donated a total amount of 7,000 EGP. This covered the cost of the Tower, the Clock, including its installation and the pulpit. The oak pulpit furniture was carefully engraved in the true Gothic style to match the rest of the church building.

The total contributions from the Wissa family, other than Mrs. Anissa, were around 7,000 EGP. The Khayat family donations, Amin Bek’s widow, exceeded 4,000 EGP. M. Megali Pacha Abd El Sayed El Wahsh’s two sons, Mr. Tewfik and Dr. Bushra, donated 2,000 EGP in memory of their father. This went towards covering the cost of the church pews all made of Oak, which when added to their father’s donations would total 2,550 EGP.

Among the generous contributions were those presented by Mr. Hakeem Morcos and Mr. Wahba Abdeeb and Mrs. Nozha Ghobrial and Mr. Wadie and Mr. Iskandar Saad and Counsel, Mr. Abadeer and the late Saeed Pacha Shokeir and the late Habeeb Ghobrial and Mr. Khaleel Thabet and Mr. Shukri and Rizk Shousha and Mr. Gayed Ishaaq and Mr. Haleem Tewfik and family and Mr. Asaad Abdel Motagali and his late brother Farag Abdel Motagali and Mr. Shaker Gindi Younan and family and the late Mr. Halleem Abou Seif and family and Mr. Maurice Dos and Mr. Wilson Ishak and family and Dr. and Mrs. Wadie Boutros and others whose names appear elsewhere.

A Church Design Contest was held. The following engineers participated:
Eng. Antoine Nahass, Eng. Ramsees Wissa Wassef, Eng. Michael Moussa, Eng. Youssef El Deweiry and another colleague of theirs.
Mr. Saba Pacha Habashy was Chairman of this church committee. The members were:  Mr. Farag Amin, Mr. Emile Alexan, Mr. Elias Mirshak, Abu Bakr Khayrat and Dr. William Saleem Hanna. The committee met several times. It finally came to a decision and announced the design submitted by eng. Antoine Nahass as winner of the contest. All other participants were awarded a monetary compensation ranging between 100 and 120 EGP.

Dr. William Saleem Hanna Pacha made the designs for the concrete. He was Professor of Reinforced Concrete at the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University. He personally supervised and oversaw the completion of the project on a volunteer basis. In addition to this, he contributed to the project himself.

The Church Property Contract Agreement had been purchased under the name “Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church”.  This contract agreement was between the heirs of El Daramolli Pacha and the Church Council, composed of Rev. Ibrahim Said, pastor, and two elders, Dr. Fares Nemr Pacha and Alexan Pacha Abashkharoun. Then the three of us relinquished our rights to the name,          “Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church”.
Our capable lawyer, Mr. Saba Pacha Habashy, handled all those formalities at no cost to us. He and his wife also donated 5,000 EGP. Here it is worth mentioning that his office staff refused any payment for their work. Instead, they themselves made private donations to the church building.

Based on this, it is forbidden to change the ownership of the church in any way, neither by sale nor by mortgage agreement nor any other dealings except what is lawfully permitted by the country.
Here I would also make mention of the work, the efforts and dedication of Mr. Elias Mirshak. Starting in 1941, he supervised the building project, offering his time, his advice and expertise. This brought on economic gains and helped a great deal especially during my brief illness. At every important step, we would meet to discuss and consult with Mr. Emile Alexan. I would also mention Mr. Elias’ employees who took over running all the building accounts and donations since 1938 especially Mr. Nicola Magdalany, and Mr. Boutros Salama and Mr. Sobhy Said who spent so much time and effort researching the building needs and requirements especially in carpentry work. They worked hard, all on a voluntary basis, in addition to making donations. Until today, Mr. Elias Mirshak’s office is in charge of the church accounts relating to building maintenance.

Any mention of names and donations is recorded for the sake of accurate accounting. There are large numbers of people who contributed. Some will remain anonymous, only God knows them. Their names are written in His book in Heaven.  We have names on record as well as those who specified they wanted to be named “Anonymous Benefactors”.

Cairo, 27/01/1951