Recap: MECC 2017 January Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches met in Beirut, Lebanon, 16-17 January for the first of its bi-annual meetings in 2017. The Executive Committee is composed of 28 members representing each of the four major families of Christian tradition present in the Middle East: the Oriental Orthodox, Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic families.
It is presided over by the Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches:
– His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All of the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church
– His Beatitude Patriarch Youhanna X, Patriarch of Antioch and all of the East for the Greek Orthodox Church
– Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, Presiding Pastor of the National Evangelical Union in Lebanon
– His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Louis Raffael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon
His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Louis Raffael I Sako was absent due to previous commitments in Iraq.
On the agenda were several key topics:
– Progress towards the completion of organisational restructuring.
– A general report by the Secretary General on the status of the Council and progress towards agreed upon goals originating from the 2016 General Assembly, held 6-8 September in Amman, Jordan.
– Updates from all program areas and Council departments.
– The Middle Eastern Christian response to key situations in the region (the Syrian and Iraqi Crises, a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine, recent attacks against the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Cairo, the continued migration of Christians to countries outside the Middle East, etc.)
– Christian-Muslim dialogue and relations
– Necessity for expansion of humanitarian and development services offered by the Council — especially in Syria and Iraq — and enhanced coordination between member churches and the Council in the execution of these programs.
The Executive Committee also visited the new President of Lebanon, General Michel Aoun — the only Christian head of state in the Middle East — for a private audience. During the visit, President Aoun presented His Excellency, Patriarch Youhanna X of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, with an ancient copy of the Holy Gospel. President Aoun and Executive Committee members also discussed the need for political representation of Christians in governmental bodies across the region, and the priority of maintaining Christian Presence and Witness in the Holy Lands.