Samuel Habib was an Egyptian Presbyterian church leader, development strategist, and ecumenical advocate. Habib was raised a Protestant in the southern Egyptian town of Tahta. He trained for the ministry at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. Further studies at the American University in Cairo and Syracuse University focused on social science and journalism.
Habib’s ministerial career began in 1952, when the Coptic Evangelical Church ordained him for work in literature and literacy. Early experiences in village literacy programs exposed him to the complex reality of rural poverty, prompting a reconceptualization of Christian social service in more comprehensive terms. Habib’s evolving theology of development was given institutional form in 1960, when he became the founding general director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS). Active throughout Egypt, CEOSS became one of the Middle East’s premier social development agencies, offering innovative programs in health education, nutrition, farming, animal husbandry, micro-economic development, leadership training, and rehabilitation services, in addition to continued efforts to promote literacy.
Habib was elected to virtually every top leadership position for which he was eligible in the Coptic Evangelical Church. He was general secretary of the church’s highest judicatory, the Synod of the Nile, from 1966 to 1983 and then moderator of the church in 1983-1984. From 1980, he chaired the council that officially represents the broader Protestant community in Egypt before the government. With Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Habib received an honorary doctorate in peacemaking from Westminster College (Penn) in 1995.
Stanley H. Skreslet
Virtue, David. A Vision of Hope. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 1996.
This biography, received in 2017, was written by Stanley H. Skreslet, professor at Union Presbyterian Seminary. He spent ten years of service on the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo through the mission program of the Presbyterian Church (USA).