Pastor Khader El-Yateem leaving Bay Ridge
Arab-American political leader celebrates last service Sunday
Bay Ridge is losing one of its most well-known Arab-American political and religious leaders.
The Rev. Khader El-Yateem, a Palestinian-born cleric who founded the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church 20 years ago and serves as its pastor, announced on Monday that he is leaving Brooklyn to move to Florida to head up Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Director of Ministries program in that state.
El-Yateem, 49, will celebrate his final service as pastor at Salam Arabic Lutheran Church on Sunday. Following the service, a reception will be held in his honor at the church.
“I have accepted a new call in Florida to be the assistant to the bishop and director of DEM,” El-Yateem tweeted. “Thanks be to God.”
El-Yateem, a married father of four who had been a prominent Arab-American community leader in Bay Ridge for many years, jumped into the political arena last year when he ran for an open City Council seat.
A first-time candidate, El-Yateem ran with the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America as well as Sunset Park Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and noted Arab-American civil rights activist Linda Sarsour. He finished second in a five-person field in the Democratic Primary in September to Justin Brannan with 31 percent of the votes to Brannan’s 39 percent. Brannan went on to win the general election two months later.
El-Yateem would have been the first Palestinian-American to serve on the New York City Council.
The Palestinian pastor is a religious liaison for the New York Police Department and is a co-founder of the Bay Ridge Unity Task Force, an inter-denominational group of civil, business and religious leaders who organized in 2000 to promote religious harmony.
He is also a longtime member of Community Board 10 and serves on the board of directors at the St. Nicholas Home, an assisted living facility for senior citizens on Ovington Avenue.
El-Yateem received the Bay Ridge Community Council’s Civic Award in 2012.
He was born on the West Bank in 1968 and earned a bachelor’s Degree from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. He came to the U.S. in 1992 at the age of 24 and earned a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary of America in Philadelphia.
El-Yateem moved to Bay Ridge in 1996, the same year he became a U.S. citizen. Two years later, he founded Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, whose congregation includes many Arab Christians who fled violence in the Middle East.
El-Yateem declined to comment for this story.
Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, 414 80th St., Sunday, May 20, at 11:15 a.m.