AL-AZHAR, Egypt – With the help of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), the leadership of the Mainline Evangelical Churches of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt were given a chance to meet with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Excellency Ahmed Tayyib, the highest authority of Islam.
Led by Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, General Director of CEOSS and President of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), and in the presence of the General Secretary of FMEEC, Mrs. Rosangela Jarjour, the heads of churches discussed the significance of Al-Azhar and the significance of the Grand Imam using his authority to speak out for moderate Islam.
CAIRO – The Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) held its second International Conference on the topic: Evangelicals and Christian Presence in The East from 10-12 September 2014 at the Concord El Salam Heliopolis Hotel in Cairo – Egypt.
This Conference comes as a follow up to FMEEC’s previous conference on the same topic that was held in Beirut, Lebanon in 2012. It also comes at a very critical moment in our history because of the tragically deteriorating situation of Christians in the Middle East region, but especially in Iraq and Syria; where widespread proliferation of “takfiri” terrorism and violence, unprecedented in Middle East history, has wrought waves of killing, destruction and displacement. All this, is in addition to the tension and violence currently prevailing in Palestine and Lebanon.
The Conference had two parts: The first consisted of official visits made by some of the participants to the Prime Minister of Egypt, Engineer Ibrahim Mahlab, to the minister of Religious Trusts (Awqaf), Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom’aa, as well as to “Sheikh Al Azhar,” the Grand Imam Dr. Ahmad El Tayyib.
Jesus Christ says to us today, “Get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you.” (Acts 26.16–17)
Today, as I come before you to discuss the crisis facing the Middle East and especially the crisis facing Arab and Middle Eastern Christians, these words of the risen Christ to the Saul resonate for us and for the communities we represent. “Get up and stand on your feet!” “I will rescue you!” There is work to be done in my name.
I have been asked to speak on the ecumenical response to our present crisis. Therefore, my message today is both internal and external, speaking to Christians in the Middle East as well as to the global Body of Christ. An ecumenical response—a response by the entire household of Christian faith—is necessarily global. But the response must first begin with us. As Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3.25). In the presence of these pressing challenges, it is time to get our Arab Christian house in order.
BEIRUT – On March 9th, 2014, in conjunction with the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut concelebrated Holy Communion.
In 2006, the ELCJHL and six Reformed churches in the Middle East signed a mutual recognition agreement called the Amman Declaration. Through this declaration, the churches recognize each other as apostolic churches in preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments. We mutually accept the validity of each church’s ministry and we continue to ask the Holy Spirit to bless this declaration and that it would lead us to the unity .
Bishop Younan preached in the service, emphasizing the modern temptation in the Middle East is to both read the Scriptures incorrectly and to allow extremism to spread. In light of these temptations, we should, as churches, be united and in this unity we can be an integral part of our people and living witnesses to Arab society.
Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, head of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut, proclaimed the concelebration of Holy Communion as a historic moment as this was the first time that the ELCJHL and the National Evangelical Church in Beirut celebrated at the Lord’s table together. This is a sign for the Evangelical Churches in the Middle East that there is no other way, except through unity and a common Evangelical witness.
BEIRUT, 17 February 2012 (FMEEC) – In light of the radical changes that the Middle East region is currently passing through; changes that directly impact the present and future destiny of its Christian inhabitants — instilling in them a genuine fear of what lies ahead — the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (Lutheran – Anglican – Reformed) held its first international conference on “Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East” from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 February, 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon. The Conference was attended by most of the ordained and lay leaders and heads of the member Churches of the Fellowship, as well as delegates from sister Evangelical churches and church institutions in Lebanon, the ME region, Europe, the USA, Canada and New Zeeland.
Leaders of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) met in Cairo in early March to strategize about how to strengthen the evangelical witness in the Middle East in the face of huge challenges. Leaders from the Holy Land, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and the Sudan discussed their ministries and experiences. Although there are encouraging signs in the ministries, there are growing difficulties with the ongoing political instability of the quagmire in Iraq and the almost 40-year occupation of Palestine. The leaders ask for your prayers during this Lenten season that the Christian witness will stay strong and vital in the face of these obstacles.
Mutual Recognition of Evangelical Middle East Churches
From the east and from the west around the Holy Land, they gathered in Amman in January of 2006 for an historical occasion. Evangelicals from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Algeria and Tunisia signed together “The Amman Declaration Agreement of Full Mutual Recognition of Lutheran and Reformed Churches in the Middle East and North Africa.” What does it mean to be an Evangelical in the Arab world today?
These churches are working together to explore the unique challenges and opportunities they face as they seek to carry out God’s mission in their regions. The churches have mutually recognized one another’s ministries and agreed upon a declaration of faith including beliefs in the Trinitarian God, justification by faith, the sacraments and the preaching of the gospel. They have agreed to mutual participation in one another’s worship, con-celebration of the Sacraments, common prophetic witness for justice and peace and other joint activities that will promote ecumenical and interfaith witness and service to God’s people in our lands.
Recognizing that “the divisions between us are contrary to God’s will that we be one,” these partners have achieved an extraordinary ecumenical expression of unity through a deliberate process of dialogue and study begun in 1991 through the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC). FMEEC which was established in 1974 as a result of long history of cooperation between Arab evangelicals working together on the diverse and unique challenges presented to evangelicals in the Arab world.
Please keep these churches in your thoughts and prayers.
The EvangelicalLutheranChurch in Jordan and the Holy Land
The National Evangelical Union of Lebanon
Synod of the Nile, Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt
The National EvangelicalChurch in Kuwait
Synod of the EvangelicalChurch in Iran
Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East
Ten women from the ELCJHL attended the “Women in Leadership” Conference of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) in late October in Amman, Jordan. More than fifty women attended from different evangelical traditions such as Lutheran, Presbyterian and Evangelical Armenian, from Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait. A psychologist and a representative of the Permanent Peace Movement in Lebanon led sessions on effective communication, empowerment, conflict management and building teamwork. Lutheran women from Amman and