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Gathering Builds Bridge Between Middle East Christians, Muslims

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The Middle East Consultation (MEC) is organized by the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) to help equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East.

It takes place every June at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in the hills overlooking Beirut and brings together faith workers from around the world who are interested in engaging important issues facing the church.

“One of our goals is to support the church in the MENA [Middle East North Africa] region in reflecting on its ministry role within its particular geopolitical context,” said Martin Accad, ABTS chief academic officer and IMES director.

“We also want to be a helpful resource for our partners worldwide, who are called to be involved in witnessing to God’s good news of Christ in the MENA region,” Accad said.

“The annual MEC has served this dual purpose for the past 16 years. In the midst of highly charged and polarizing times, we believe that MEC has an important role to play in helping individuals and communities of faith make better sense of Middle Eastern issues, Islam and West-East and Christian-Muslim relations.”

This year’s theme is “The Gospel in Public Life: Biblical Foundations for Engaging Politics and Society in the MENA Region and Beyond.” MEC 2020 will be held from June 15-19 at the ABTS campus.

Accad emphasized the “strategic nature and importance of this conversation today, as we are witnessing people protest movements from Southeast Asia to South America, sub-Saharan Africa and intensely in the MENA region.

“Leaderless protests and revolutions, yet with clear and relentless demands, calling for systemic change and the combating of endemic corruption, characterize these movements,” he said. “Even as they are criticized from all political sides, they are supported by nearly all social strata, regardless of economic, educational or religious backgrounds.

“Nothing is more important for us today than to reflect, analyze and take strategic steps towards discovering the responsibility of the church globally to be a part of this transformation with a mindset driven by the values of the gospel.”

Faith, politics and society are at the heart of a consequential discussion within the church, and MEC 2020 is primed to be an opportunity for MENA Christians to impart their voices to this global discourse by offering questions, insights and ideas from their complicated and often-misunderstood contexts.

Participants will collectively work toward a reasoned discernment of MENA public life in the 21st century as they seek inspired foundations for demonstrating faithful presence amid volatile circumstances.

Presenters from both the MENA region and outside will join attendees in lending their unique perspectives to a wide-ranging discussion and help us exercise nuanced reflection on complex issues.

Keynote speakers from the fields of theology, journalism, political science, interfaith relations and public service will provide insights and information that will drive an illuminating dialogue of ideas and situations.

Our consultation will explore the following:

  • How do we maintain a commitment to the common good within a theology of public life?
  • What is a biblical posture toward governance, and how does faith direct our allegiances to worldly authorities?
  • What challenges and opportunities do Muslims and Christians face when interacting together in the context of public life?
  • How are we to address injustices, and what are scriptural parameters for civil protest and disobedience?
  • How can we remain faithful to our values and morals amid often prejudiced legal systems and public institutions?

These questions and more will be explored by academics and practitioners from the region and throughout the globe.

A description about, and application to, the consultation is available here.

In a time when our discourse about faith, politics and society is characterized more by noise than nuance, there is ever-increasing urgency to engage in a thoughtful discussion that draws deeply from the good news of Scripture.

We hope you will join us at MEC for this time of listening, sharing and further discovery of our prophetic presence in the world today.

ABTS Staff

Founded in 1960 in the hills overlooking Beirut, the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) equips servant-leaders for the ministry challenges arising in the Middle East and North Africa – be it theology, apologetics, communication, pastoral care, ethics, society or culture.