Our 2017/18 Focus

Safer school environment for vulnerable children.

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

The Foundation awarded a grant to cover critical construction and repairs to the Theodore Schneller School in Jordan, a historic institution than evolved from The Schneller Orphanage, established in 1860.

The Schneller school serves a particularly vulnerable population of children and youth, many of whom are orphaned or come from extreme poverty and family dysfunction. Syrian refugee children have recently become part of the school’s family. Currently, 120 children live on campus, and 250 students attend during the day. The Schneller School provides academic and vocational education within a safe, caring and supportive environment. The Schneller School has embraced a culture within which students build self-esteem and learn to respect others with tolerance, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Schneller staff encourages student self-efficacy, financial independence and dignity and instills students with a sense of hope.

The Foundation helped provide a safer, more functional and uplifting environment for Schneller’s children by supporting core components of the school’s renovation plan, including renovation and refurbishing of classrooms, electrical work for a new solar power system, and construction of a safe multi-use outdoor recreation space.

Bringing together Christian students in an international forum to examine peace and justice issues.

The World Student Christian Federation

The Harold C. Smith Foundation awarded a grant to support The Youth Conference on Peace Building and Overcoming Violence in the Middle East, held in Cairo, Egypt during July 2017. The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) works to equip and empower Christian students all over the world to stand up for peace and justice in their communities, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and gender. WSCF’s work has focused on the Middle East where their Peace Building and Dialogue Program serves to mobilize youth in addressing the challenge of overcoming violence and promoting peace in situations of war and conflict.

The Conference included 36 student participants representing more than a dozen countries. Students created a common action plan for Christian and Muslim youth to promote and contribute to peacebuilding efforts and forged new connections for future collaborative work between the Christian and Muslim participants.

Empowering Christian students to incorporate Christian values in civic engagement and vocational discernment

Ursinus College

The Harold C. Smith Foundation has awarded a one-year grant to support the Ursinus College Christian Studies and Service initiative. Founded in 1869, Ursinus College is a small liberal arts college located near Philadelphia. The Ursinus mission is to strengthen intellect, awaken moral sensitivity, and challenge students to affect society through positive change. Ursinus held a special place in the heart of Rev. Smith. He was not only a graduate, but he also served as the longest standing member of the Board of Trustees, where he advocated for standards of excellence in both education and spiritual formation. Rev. Smith gave generously through the Harold C. Smith Scholarship Fund.

The objectives of the Christian Studies and Service initiative are to 1) offer distinctive programs, which will give students the opportunity to grow spiritually and intellectually through, research, vocational discernment and service training; and 2) provide hands on, experiential learning that will prepare students to assume leadership roles in churches and communities. The initiative is designed to support civic engagement and inspire and equip students to participate in advocating for and assisting the disenfranchised, the poor, and the under-served in reaching a higher quality of life.

The grant to Ursinus College supports vocational discernment retreats, during which students have opportunities to reflect on their strengths and discover next steps in their life-path; experiential internships both in-country or internationally with non-profits, service organizations, and community groups; conferences addressing social justice and peace-making issues; and research on persecuted Christians.

Supporting Christian Leadership Development in the Mid East.

Arab Baptist Theological Seminary

The Harold C. Smith Foundation awarded a grant to support Scholarships for the ABTS Residential Programs and for their new Online Program.

For more than five decades the Lebanon based ABTS has equipped and empowered people of faith from various denominations to meet the growing needs of the Arab world through Christian ministry.

The persecution and oppression of Christians in the Middle East has created a very real threat of Christianity being wiped out in its place of birth. Communities that have thrived in the region since the first century AD are now being forced to flee in large numbers. There is a vital need for impassioned, well-trained Christian leaders who can meet the needs of the remnant communities, restore hope, and rebuild the Christian presence.

In the words of the president of ABTS Elie Haddad “the Church needs well-shaped leaders who have a heart filled with love for God and His mission, a critical mind, and sophisticated skills… and the main task of ABTS is to equip these kinds of leaders.”

ABTS has been consistently equipping such leaders by using a contextually relevant curriculum, an emphasis on critical thinking, and by employing dynamic and holistic leadership development. The majority of ABTS graduates have gone on to key leadership roles throughout the Middle East. Many brave students have returned to their home towns, from which past Christian leaders have fled, and are risking their lives to build up their churches and spread the message of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ. ABTS graduates are therefore playing an important role in sustaining and strengthening Christianity in the Middle East.

In order to make its training more accessible, ABTS recently established an online program facilitated by tutors and offering all the qualities of the residential program. This program is reaching new groups of leaders, particularly women, for whom no such training was previously accessible.

Shortly before Rev. Smith passed away, he was excited to learn about the impactful work of ABTS in the Middle East. After further exploration, the team at the Harold C. Smith Foundation discovered that ABTS covers the primary areas of Rev. Smith’s interest: theological education, leadership formation and sustaining Christian presence in the Middle East. We are therefore extremely pleased to be a part of the important work being carried out through the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.