Middle East Council of Churches

Unofficial news from the Middle Eastern Christian Ecumenical organization.

Maintained by Tom Scudder

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Apologies for the extended hiatus (two weeks longer than announced). There will be another gap next week, after which regular service will resume.

Recapping the last month for the Middle East Council of Churches (apologies in advance for anything I leave out):

Last month, the MECC Unit on Life and Service hosted the seventh annual meeting of the Amman Process in Beirut, Lebanon. The Process brings together church-related groups working with migrants and refugees from all parts of the mediterranean. At this meeting, the European partners presented on the latest developments, both legal and social, with respect to migration issues in Europe, and MECC staff presented on the situations in Iraq, Palestine, and on interreligious dialogue. Of especial note was a presentation by Mr. Mustapha Djemali, UNHCR regional officer for the Middle East, who gave an honest and somewhat downbeat assessment of the UN's paralysis during the Iraq crisis.

Also last month, the MECC Program on Justice, Peace and Human Rights held a training session in Agameh, Egypt (near Alexandria). The session, which dealt with "Protecting Children in Difficult Situations" included both theoretical and practical approaches to dealing with children who are at risk due to violence encountered in the home or in society. Twenty educators, NGO workers, and clergy working with children attended the two-day session.

At the end of last month, the MECC Executive Committee met in Amman, Jordan. The official statement of the meeting is available on the official site.

Also in Amman, MECC staff including the General Secretary attended a meeting sponsored by the World Conference on Religion and Peace of Iraqi religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian. The leaders called for "an immediate temporary Iraqi national government, to be followed by a permanent Iraqi government built on the basis of direct, free and democratic elections, a constitution, and the rule of law that protects equally all religious, ethnic and national groupings." Full coverage is available on WCRP's site.

Two MECC associate general secretaries, Father Elias Khalife (head of the Unit on Faith and Unity) and Mr. Samer Lahham, who is also the communications officer for the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, attended the ecumenical Kirchentag in Berlin that ran from May 28 to June 3 and drew at least 200,000 participants from around Germany and around the world. See here for one brief press release.

The MECC Gulf Liaison,Rolf Pearson, is moving toOman to work with the Al Amana Centre. It is hoped that with this move, Rolf will be able to bring in more resources from the MECC in the region to serve the churches in a more effective way. With the Centre’s growing work in dialogue, it is also hoped that this work can be expanded to benefit all Gulf countries.

Rev. Pearson's new address is:

Rev. Rolf Pearson

MECC Gulf Office

Al Amana Centre

P.O. Box 11

Muscat 113 Oman

Last week, MECC in cooperation with the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women (disclaimer: I'm not sure that this is their actual site, and it hasn't been updated in what looks like 3 years) held a conference on "Violence against Women in the Family". Speakers included women from Arab countries as well as representatives from Amnesty International and the UN commission to end all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW). Metropolitan George Khodr and Sayyid Hani Fahs gave presentations on religious interpretations of violence against women from Christian and Muslim perspectives. Of particular interest was the presentation of Dr. Manjiyeh Suwayhi of Tunisia on the Tunisian reforms to their laws on violence against women and the success they have had in reducing at least somewhat this phenomenon in their country.

There remain a number of people displaced by the Iraq conflict, and MECC is continuing to give assistance to them. The latest report from Amman is available on the main site.

In preparation is a Muslim-Christian conference on Fundamentalism. This meeting, to be held in Beirut this Thursday-Saturday, will focus on problems of Fundamentalism in both faiths, and on the phenomenon in general.

Next week, the MECC Commission on Refugees, Migrants and Displaced Persons meets in Amman. I (Tom) will be attending, and hope to have some more information on Iraq and relief efforts there to share after that meeting.
posted by Tom at 4:59 PM