Each year, you likely look forward to Birmingham’s Lebanese community’s fun and delicious food and cultural festivals. While you may be hooked on the scrumptious Kibbee and spinach pies, there’s more to know about this thriving community than the cuisine. Now through January 2024, you can learn all about it during Vulcan Park & Museum’s new exhibit–Birmingham’s Early Middle Eastern Community: Celebrating Life and Liturgy. Read on for a sneak peek at what you’ll discover at this must-experience event. Tickets available now.
- What: Birmingham’s Early Middle Eastern Community: Celebrating Life and Liturgy
- When: Now-January 2024 | Daily, 10AM-6PM
- Where: Linn-Henley Gallery at Vulcan Park & Museum, 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209
- Cost: Included in general admission to Vulcan Park & Museum | Adults (13+) – $6 | Seniors (65+) – $5 | Kids (5-12) – $4 | Kids 4 + under – Free
The history of Birmingham’s Middle Eastern community
To discover the history of Birmingham’s Middle Eastern community, you’ll need to travel back to 1910 with the arrival of Christian immigrants from the areas known today as Syria and Lebanon. During the early 20th century, 65 Lebanese families immigrated to the city, settling in two prominent areas—Southside and Avondale.
As many immigrants who journeyed to Birmingham for a better life, those from the Middle East lived and worked near the city’s iron and steel and cotton industries where they were peddlers and traders.
Later, many became merchants operating brick-and-mortar stores. The grocery business was one area Lebanese immigrants thrived, allowing them to live “the American Dream” they had originally sought.
From the beginning, faith remained central to these immigrants new life in Birmingham, which led them to form two religious congregations—the Maronites at Saint Elias Maronite Catholic Church and the Melkites at Saint George Melkite Greek-Catholic Church. Though the two congregations celebrate separate liturgies, they have remained close due to their shared history. Both churches are still prominent in Birmingham’s Southside.
Today, descendants of the city’s early immigrant families have taken their place in Birmingham as some of the areas leading professionals, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
See Birmingham’s Early Middle Eastern Community: Celebrating Life and Liturgy, now-January 2024 at Vulcan Park & Museum’s Linn-Henley Gallery. Tickets available now.
A look at the exhibit
A collaboration of Vulcan Park & Museum, Saint Elias Maronite Catholic Church and Saint George Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, this special exhibit takes you on an educational stroll through history. You’ll discover interesting artifacts that highlight the religious, economic and social lives of Birmingham’s Middle Eastern community, from photos and newspaper clippings to the important role of Saint Elias and Saint George.
Plan now! Birmingham’s Early Middle Eastern Community: Celebrating Life and Liturgy runs now-January 2024 at Vulcan Park & Museum’s Linn-Henley Gallery. Tickets available now.
Along with the exhibit, Vulcan Park & Museum will also host a number of unique events throughout the year, including a Virtual Chat with Abouna Justin Rose at Saint George Melkite Greek-Catholic Church. Attend the event on Tuesday, February 28 at 6PM. Admission is free.
More events throughout the year include:
- Cooking demonstration
- Dabke dance demonstration
- Live chat on Lebanese food
- Live chat on women in the Middle Eastern community
- And more!
Head to visitvulcan.com to learn more.
Birmingham’s Early Middle Eastern Community: Celebrating Life and Liturgy is sponsored by: Alabama Humanities Alliance, Zyne Family Foundation, Benjamin & Francis David Foundation, The St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church, The Saint George Melkite Creek-Catholic Church, Birmingham Coca-Cola Company United, Protective, Vulcan Materials and Regions.
Stay up to date on what’s happening at Vulcan Park & Museum—visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.