Middle East Council of Churches

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The Middle East Council of Churches was inaugurated in May 1974 at its First General Assembly in Nicosia, Cyprus, and is now headquartered in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. Initially it contained three "families" of Christian Churches in the Middle East, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Evangelical Churches. These were joined in 1990 at the MECC Fifth Assembly by the Catholic Churches of the region.[1] It is a regional council affiliated with the mainstream ecumenical movement which also gave birth to the World Council of Churches, of which the Middle East Council of Churches is also a member.[2]

The MECC is headed by a Secretary General and supported by three Associate Secretaries General. Its four co-presidents each represent the four church families: the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Catholic, and the Evangelical (Protestant).

The MECC is composed of two program categories: Core Programs and Service Programs.

The MECC has offices in Cairo and Amman, with liaison offices in Damascus, Jerusalem and Tehran. Through the membership of its four Church families, the MECC is spread over 14 countries from Northern Africa, the Levant, Iraq, Iran and the Persian Gulf, representing 14 million Christians.[2]

History[edit]

The MECC was founded in May 1974 at its first General Assembly in Nicosia, Cyprus with the stated purpose to "deepen the spiritual fellowship among the churches of the Middle East, and to unite them in word and deed."[3] From the outset, the MECC adopted the model of "families of churches". The Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox and the Protestants were the three founding families. In 1990 the Catholic Churches (Latin and Oriental rite) joined the council, constituting the Catholic family within the MECC. Each family is equally represented in the governing bodies and the general assembly, and decides on its own representation.[4] The MECC initially had three co-presidents, representing each of the Christian "families", becoming four after the Catholic Churches joined in 1990.

The first Secretary General of the MECC from 1974 to 1977 was the Reverend Albert Istero. He was succeeded by Gabriel Habib, from 1977 to 1994. In November 1994, the Reverend Dr. Riad Jarjour was elected Secretary General. He was replaced after two terms by Guirgis Saleh, a Coptic Orthodox theologian and professor, at the Eighth General Assembly in 2003 and served until 2011, at which point Father Boulos Rouhana, of the Maronite Church, was appointed. The term of Father Boulos Rouhana was cut short when he was appointed to the position of Bishop in the Maronite Church. Following a transitional period, Father Dr. Michel Jalakh, also of the Maronite Church, was elected by the Executive committee in 2013 to serve as the sixth Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches.

Member churches[edit]

The MECC is composed of four ecclesiastical families, together representing 14 million Christians in the Middle East.[4]

Catholic[edit]

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

Oriental Orthodox[edit]

Evangelical[edit]

(Source: MECC)

Core Programs[edit]

The core programs of the MECC are those which directly contribute to its well-being and vision.

The MECC serves as a bridge among Eastern Christians in the region. Its ecumenical relations program is deals with issues of Christian unity.[5]

  • Inter-religious Relations

MECC works with other religions in the region in its inter-religious relations program. It has historically been actively involved in Christian Muslim dialogue.[5]

The Communications Program is responsible for MECC publications. In the past it has published reports in three different languages: Arabic, French, and English.[6]

The documentation and archive program makes historical and academic resources regarding the ecumenical movement in the Middle East available as a reference for ecumenical studies and research in order to preserve the historical memory of the ecumenical movement in the Middle East.

Service Programs[edit]

Through its affiliated departments, the MECC is involved in humanitarian response and development work.

The MECC Diakonia and Social Justice (DSJ) unit focuses on the protection and rights of migrants and refugees, specifically women and children, and their rights, life and dignity.[7]

The Inter-church Network for Development and Relief was founded in 1975 to respond to the needs across Lebanon. It is financially and administratively autonomous from the MECC.[8] It provides psychosocial support, rights education and protection for children in Lebanon; psychosocial support for Syrian refugee women and children in Lebanon; and a food security program in Lebanon.[9]

The Syrian IDPs program is a direct response to the war in Syria. The program, which is administered by the MECC Syria Office, distributes humanitarian assistance and rehabilitates water systems in schools to restore access to water and sanitation.[10]

The Iraqi & Syrian Refugees Program is a program of the MECC Jordan office.[11] It offers humanitarian aid as well as community development projects to Iraqi and Syrian refugees living in Jordan.[12]

The Department of Services for Palestinian refugees was formed in 1951 to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. It has evolved into an organization which works in the West Bank, Gaza, Nazareth, Lebanon, Jordan.[13]

Criticism[edit]

Opposition to Christian Zionism and Restorationism[edit]

Christian Zionists, who have long represented a substantial proportion of historic and contemporary Protestants,[14][15][16][17][18] are characterised as those "distort the interpretation of the Word of God" and "damage intra-Christian relations".[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://mecc.org/content/introduction-mecc
  2. ^ a b https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/middle-east
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/middle-east/mecc
  5. ^ a b http://mecc.org/content/programs
  6. ^ http://mecc.org/content/publications
  7. ^ Hadeshian, Seta. "Activity Report 2013-2014." MECC Unit on Diakonia and Social Justice. Print. 23 January 2015.
  8. ^ p. 3. "ICNDR Mission." Inter-Church Network for Development and Relief. Print Brochure.
  9. ^ p. 2. "Programs." The Inter-Church Network for Development and Relief. Print Brochure.
  10. ^ p. 9. "Syrian IDPS Program." Syrian IDPs Program. 2015. Powerpoint.
  11. ^ "Syrian Relief Program." Orthodox Initiative. 2013. Web. 8 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Iraqi Syrian Scouts Project." Orthodox Initiative. 27 February 2015. Web. 8 July 2015
  13. ^ p. 20. Annual Report 2014. Department of Services for Palestinian Refugees. 2014. PDF.
  14. ^ "A Wesley 'Zionist' Hymn? Charles Wesley's hymn, published in 1762 and included by John Wesley in his 1780 hymn-book, A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists". The Wesley Fellowship. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  15. ^ Owen, John "Complete Works", Vol.17. Exercitation 18, p. 560.
  16. ^ "Exposition of the Old and New Testament, Deuteronomy 30 verse 5, by John Gill". Retrieved 2014-07-01.
  17. ^ Spurgeon, Charles (1864), "Sermon preached in June 1864 for the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews", Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 10
  18. ^ Bonar, Horatius, 'The Jew', July 1870, The Quarterly Journal of Prophecy
  19. ^ "Statement on Christian presence and witness in the Middle East". World Council of Churches and The Middle East Council of Churches International. 2013-05-25. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-02-21.

External links[edit]