Recap: 2016 MECC General Assembly

Member churches, staff and representatives of the Middle East Council of Churches gathered in Amman, Jordan for its 11th General Assembly, 6-8 September, 2016.

The Assembly elected four new presidents representing each of the Christian families active in the Middle East:

– His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church (Oriental Orthodox Family)

– His Beatitude Patriarch Youhanna X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East (Orthodox Family)

– His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Louis Raffael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon (Catholic Family)

– Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, Presiding Pastor of the National Evangelical Union of Lebanon (Evangelical Family)

The Assembly also brought the election of new members to the Executive Committee, confirmed Fr. Dr. Michel Jalakh as the Secretary General of the Council, as well as provided an opportunity for representatives to discuss pressing issues facing Christians in the Middle East and ecumenically determine unified responses and plans for action. Among the key topics raised were:

– The critical nature of continued presence and witness by Christians in the Middle East, despite the difficulties currently faced.

– A call for the resolution of key regional conflicts which are, and have been, the cause of much suffering by innocent civilians, Christian and non-Christian alike. A particular emphasis was placed on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

– The condemnation of extremism, terrorism, exclusion and religion-inspired violence. And, a renewal of the Council and its member churches’ commitments to serve as a safety net within their communities.

– Interfaith dialogue and collaboration

Imperatives were made by the Council to local, regional and international decision-makers to:

– To intervene and stop war, to refrain from supplying weapons to terrorist groups, and to ensure a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria that guarantees the country’s unity and the free and safe co-existence among its various cultural and religious components within a civil state.

– To ensure support for the return of migrants and displaced persons to their homes in safety, especially the Christians of Mosul and Nineveh Plain in Iraq, who are the owners of the land and its indigenous people.

– To elect a president for the Lebanese Republic, without any further delay, so that order may return to the constitutional institutions, which is related to the stability of this message-country and its prosperity.

– To denounce the acts of genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing, and uprooting that Christians, along with other components of the Middle East, were exposed to and remain so till this very hour.

– To ensure that the Arab countries and the international community carry out their responsibilities in helping displaced persons and refugees, in providing the required support to them inside their countries and in host countries, as it’s being done by the churches and church institutions, and in seeking to ensure their return to their homes as soon as possible, so that they enjoy a decent and secure life in equality with all their brothers and sisters in their countries.

– To reaffirm their support for the just cause of the Palestinian people and their right to statehood, and the return of Palestinian refugees to their land according to the resolutions of the United Nations.

– To end the irregular situation in the island of Cyprus, to achieve unity of the territory, and to protect the rights of all its citizens.

– To appeal to international authorities to intensify efforts for the release of all kidnapped persons, especially the two Metropolitans of Aleppo, Boulous Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim, as more than three years have passed since their kidnapping, as well as priests and civilians, and to pray to God for their safe return soon.

An overview of the Assembly’s resolutions and outcomes can be accessed here