Syrian Orthodox Christian School (SOCS) in Bethlehem Report 2017.
The SOCS known locally as the Mar Ephraim School is situated in the Beit Jala district of Bethlehem and opened in 2003 to provide education for the children of the Syrian Orthodox Community, a minority Christian community living in and around Bethlehem.
The “City of David” lies within the Palestinian Authority some 8 miles south of Jerusalem.
Opening in September 2003 with just 15 Kindergarten aged children, the school now in its 15th year comprises the original building and a recently added 2 storey annexe which opened in June 2017 with 13 new classrooms and their facilities.
Student numbers rose to 600+ by September 2017 with an age range of 3-18, Kindergarten to Grade 12. The Grade 12 students were the original Kindergarten children from 2003 and have now completed their education!
The Coventry Diocesan SOCS Support Group established in June 2000 to help the Syrian Orthodox Community realise their dream of a school for their children, authorised the transfer during 2017 of £9000 to the school, £5000 to help families with school fees, £2000 for equipment and furniture for the new annexe and £2000 for books for the poorer children.
The total financial support for the school authorised by the Support Group since its foundation now exceeds £160 000. This has been raised by churches and individuals from within the Coventry Diocese and beyond, in one case from a church in Vienna!
The annual “Quiz and Fish & Chip Supper” held at St John’s Church in Kenilworth and always a fun event raised £900. A magnificent result which will support a further 2 children with their annual school fees.
St Nicholas Church has yet again been most generous both in its financial and prayer support for the school and during 2017 donated over £1500 to the SOCS Support Fund (overseen by the Coventry Diocesan Board of Finance) of which £780 (including Gift Aid) came from “Little Socks Reunions”!
Thank you so much for your continuing support.Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Bethlehem whose lives are so close to the troubles in the Middle East and who strive so successfully to show the “love of God” to the children in their care in this “beacon of hope” that is the Syrian Orthodox Christian School.
Peter Morrell (01926 332488)
SOCS in BETHLEHEM Support Group.
NEWSLETTER. DECEMBER 2018.
Christmas greetings from the SOCS Support Group in the Diocese of Coventry.
During the year, the Group has been saddened by the deaths of two long-standing members, Anne Grey and Sue Bourne.
Anne who died in February was a founder member of the Group, worshipping at
Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon. Her marmalade was legendary and raised £100s for the school!
Sue died in July and worshipped at Exhall St Giles. She was instrumental in collating the SOCS Leaflet.
Both will be very much missed and we thank God for their unstinting work for the school.
News of the school is most heartening as a recent email from Amal the Headteacher relays,
“Greetings and warm regards from Bethlehem. The school now has students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, 3 – 18 years, is considered one of the very best in the Bethlehem area and is greatly appreciated by the Ministry of Education.
It is growing so rapidly that a further floor of rooms will be needed by 2019! Our 16th school year started in late August 2018 with 640 students and 63 staff. The vast majority of our students come from the surrounding Christian Communities. Our first senior group graduated in May and went to University this term, this is quite an achievement!
However many families barely cover their daily needs with 50 unable to pay the minimum fees. Our grateful thanks to you for your continuing financial help for these families, without it their children would be unable to attend school.
We had a number of good achievements this year in Technology, Maths and English where students have participated in a number of competitions and were marked at the highest levels in addition to being pioneers in Music and Sports.
I wish to thank you all for your love, care, support and prayers. I hope one day I will be able to meet you again. May the Lord bless you all. Amal.
During 2017/18 the Support Group authorised the transfer of £22000 to the school, with £17000 to help with fees and £5000 for books and equipment. This takes our total financial support for the school since it opened in 2003 to £170000+, “this is quite an achievement” to quote Amal!
We thank you for your continuing support of and prayers for the school and should you be able at this Christmas time to make a donation towards its work in the “little town of Bethlehem” please make your cheque payable to
Coventry Diocesan Board of Finance Ltd (SOCS Support Fund), and send it to
Finance Dept, Coventry Diocese Board of Finance, 1 Hill Top, Coventry. CV1 5AB.
Due to “circumstances beyond our control” we were unable to hold our renowned Quiz & Fish ‘n Chip Supper this year but hopefully it will be back next year on Saturday 9th March. Confirmation and further details nearer the time.
It was in March 2000 during a Coventry Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land led by Canon Andrew White that we witnessed the plight of the Syrian Orthodox Community in Bethlehem and set up the Support Group in order to try to help realise the Community’s dream of having a school for their children.
Then during a further Pilgrimage in 2007 led by Canon Mark Bryant we were privileged to visit the school and see how much progress had been made towards that dream with the school becoming a “beacon of hope” for its community.
We occasionally hear from friends and pilgrims and would love to “catch up” with your news and where you are now. However if you wish to “unsubscribe” from receiving news of the school please let me know, contact details below.
With our very best wishes for Christmas and 2019.
Peter Morrell on behalf of the SOCS Support Group, Diocese of Coventry.
7, The Greswoldes, Radford Semele, Leamington Spa. CV31 1TP. 01926 332488.