June tends to be our busiest month of the year at the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES). As such, we felt that giving you some insights into what lies ahead over the coming weeks might give you a better idea as to what we’ve been working on, as we seek to fulfill our institutional mandate: To bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.
1) Middle East Conference 2013: “Your Rights & My Responsibilities: Biblical and Islamic Perspectives on Human Rights” (June 17-21)
The purpose of the Middle East Conference (MEC) is: To equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East.
Human rights are often the cause of fierce debate, especially in regard to religious rights and freedoms, freedom of expression, the status of social and religious minorities, current events, and injustice (as in the form of human trafficking, child labor, or the abuse of domestic workers). IMES will be exploring once again how we are to respond, as followers of Christ, given the challenges and opportunities facing us during this time of dramatic and rapid change.
Internationally acclaimed speakers from Lebanon, the MENA Region, and beyond will each bring their own unique perspective to the issues at hand. International Speakers at MEC 2013 include: Oxford theologian Paul Fiddes; CEO of World Vision Australia Tim Costello; Turkish academic and activist Ziya Meral; Egyptian parliamentarian Ehab Al-Kharrat; and Regional Director of World Vision’s Department of Faith and Development Danut Manastireanu.
Here are just a few of the questions we will be addressing during MEC 2013:
- Which key philosophical and theological ideas have formed the basis of contemporary understandings of human rights?
- What are some of the new challenges and opportunities for human rights within the emerging MENA context?
- For what reason/s are individual human rights not typically considered a priority within MENA communities? And, what happens when a society fails to live up to its social responsibility—is there a role for advocacy on behalf of the individual?
- What are the personal implications for religious conversion within a Middle Eastern and/or Islamic context?
- How does modern-day slavery manifest itself within differing global and MENA contexts, (for example, child labor, sex trafficking, or the treatment of domestic workers)? And, in what ways can the global and local church respond to the issue of human trafficking?
For More information about MEC 2013, please follow the links below:
2) MRel In MENA Studies Residency – Islam Module (June 24-July 5)
Immediately following MEC2013, students in IMES’s Master of Religion in Middle East and North Africa Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program arrive to spend two very full weeks for the residency portion of their Islam Module under the supervision of internationally respected scholar Colin Chapman. (Many MRel students will, however, already be here as they are given the opportunity to attend MEC2013 for academic credit.)
As lead faculty for the Islam module, Colin Chapman will be assisted by Martin Accad as support faculty and Bob Robertson as faculty in charge of holistic formation.
Each of the four main MRel modules (MENA History, Politics and Economics; MENA Islam; MENA Cultures; MENA Christianity) consists of a pre-residency, residency, and post-residency segment. As part of their residency, MRel students will spend their time on-site in Beirut learning via lecture, discussion, group work, field visits to NGOs, mosques, churches and other organizations, as well as conversations and dialogue with key leaders, academics, and people of influence.
During the residency students and faculty will be together in the same location for a unique and intensive learning experience, all the while being exposed to the rich historical, cultural, and religious heritage of the region. As part of their residency, students living as far away as Australia, South America, Canada, and of course Lebanon itself will be studying the MENA region, in the MENA region.
During the pre- and post-residency portion of each MRel module students remain in their home country and/or country of residence completing assignments and interacting via the use of distance learning technologies that facilitate discussion and feedback.
In addition to site visits and guest speakers, a small sampling of the special topics to be discussed during June’s MRel residency is listed below:
- Qur’anic exegesis;
- The sira, hadith, and other important Islamic texts;
- Models of Christian-Muslim interaction and engagement;
- Islamic law and the court system;
- Recent attitudes and approaches to Islam among evangelicals;
For more information about the MRel in MENA Studies program, please follow the links below:
3) Lebanon Practicum 2013 (June 17 – July 19)
A group of students from Fuller Theological Seminary will be arriving this June to participate in IMES’s 7th annual Lebanon Practicum. The Lebanon Practicum provides students with the opportunity to earn up to 12 quarter units of coursework and/or fulfill an intercultural practicum requirement, while simultaneously exposing them to Muslim-Christian interaction in the Lebanese context.
International students studying at Fuller Theological Seminary, Talbot School of Theology, and Bethel Seminary, among others, have in recent years come to spend their summers in Lebanon to study under the guidance of IMES Director and Fuller Theological Seminary professor, Dr. Martin Accad. Based at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), students will take part in:
- The Middle East Conference 2013: “Your Rights & My Responsibilities: Biblical and Islamic Perspectives on Human Rights”,
- Intensive Levantine-Arabic language and culture study through IMES’s Academy of Language and Practicum Skill (ALPS),
- A cross-cultural practicum placement meeting the specific interests and skills of the participant at a variety of local NGO’s, service centers, and/or Christ-centered ministries.
Although currently limited to specific partner institutions, those seminaries or seminary students interested in learning more information about IMES’s Lebanon Practicum, please follow the link below:
4) ABTS Department of Theology Graduation Ceremony (June 23)
Although not specifically an IMES event, as a department of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), Lebanon, IMES is very proud of this year’s Department of Theology graduates and wish them nothing but joy in their future lives and vocations.
Students from as far away as Morocco, Iraq and everywhere in-between come to ABTS to study the Bible, theology, and ministry in Arabic.
- Certificate of Theology (CertTh)
- Diploma of Theology (DipTh)
- Bachelor of Theology (BTh)
- Master of Divinity (MDiv)
Once again, IMES is very proud of this year’s theology graduates and wish them great joy in their future lives and vocations. To learn more about ABTS’s theology programs, please follow the links below: