On May 17, 2008 over 200 people gathered to witness the ordination of Brother Azar Ajaj at the Local Baptist Church in Nazareth. The event, sponsored by the Nazareth Center for Christian Studies (NCCS), the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel (ABC) and Local Baptist Church in Nazareth was a time of great joy and celebration for all who were present.

The ceremony was opened with prayer by Pastor Khalid Dhally and scripture reading by Rev. Ibrahim Simaan and Rev. Hatem Jeries. Following the reading, the group was led in singing by members of Local Baptist Church in Nazareth.

Rev. Hanna Katanacho delivered a speech in honor of Brother Azar’s ordination on four points of leadership, taken from Paul’s first letter to Timothy 3:1. The title of the speech was “This is a trustworthy saying: If Azar desires the office of a Leader, he desires an honorable position”. He then explained “Trustworthy” and covered these points:

1) “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” This is the first thing a servant of the Word must remember. (1Timothy 1:15)
2) Servants of the Word must be an example of good faith in speaking and in acting to show the power of God through his life and service.
3) The servant will undergo difficulties in this life, but he must persevere amidst hardship and by his perseverance set a good example for others.
4) He who desires to be a leader desires a noble thing, but he must be above reproach and have a strong relationship with the Lord and the people of the Lord.

After Rev. Katanacho’s message, Rev. Bryson Arthur, President of the Nazareth Center for Christian Studies spoke about Azar’s involvement with the institution: Azar currently serves as the Dean of Students. Bryson recalled the dream of beginning the seminary several years ago and how far the dream has been developed. He stressed the promise of Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Following these words, Azar came forward and pledged before God and man to work tirelessly in the ministry for the sake of the Gospel of Christ and the Church. The elders and ministers present came forward to lay hands on Azar and pray over him for the beginning of his new ministry. The ministries included Baptist pastors from within the Association of Baptist Churches, Messianic Jewish Elders from Galilee, an American Southern Baptist pastor, two Baptist pastors from the central association in the UK, which have a twinning relationship with Israeli Baptists – together with local Nazarene, Anglican and Assemblies of God pastors. All these men of God joined together in praying for setting Rev. Azar Ajaj apart for full-time ministry. It was a lovely picture of unity within the body of Christ, which is so evident in the ministry of Rev. Ajaj in the last years and also in the institution where he is currently serving – the Nazareth Center for Christian Studies.