Places at MEC 2017 are filling up fast. If you are planning to attend MEC this year, and have yet to apply [or have had your application approved but have not gone on to register] please do so as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
IMES’ Middle East Consultation [MEC] has developed a fantastic reputation for providing a unique context in which the MENA and global church can come together to address the critical issues facing the Body of Christ in the context of the Middle East and North Africa. As always, MEC will include creative presentations from diverse perspectives, practitioner interviews and witness accounts, roundtable discussions, workshops, interfaith encounters with leading Muslims leaders, Biblical reflections, prayer and worship, and an opportunity to visit a local community to see firsthand some of the challenges faced by certain communities in the region.
However, we are changing our methodology slightly for 2017. For each of the four main themes being addressed under the banner of “Disorienting Times” – Persecution and Suffering; Minoritization; Hopelessness and Despair; and Emigration – we will include a range of contributions. After a time of corporate worship, the following sessions will be included each day as they relate specifically to the daily topic:
- Witness Accounts
- Keynote Presentation
- Theological / Pastoral Response
- Global Cross-Check
- Roundtable Discussions
- Interfaith Forum
The daily keynote presentation, which includes also a keynote paper to be made available during MEC, will be presented by a top leader and thinker from the region. These leaders include:
- Ramez Atallah – Persecution, Discrimination and Suffering: Ramez is the General Secratary of the Bible Society in Egypt. A well respected leader in the region, Ramez is able to bring powerful insights and Biblical reflection to a very difficult topic. His approach is both pastoral and prophetic, and his contribution will raise important questions for reflection by the regional and global church.
- Martin Accad – Minoritization: Martin is the Chief Academic Officer of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary and Director of the Institute of Middle East Studies. Ever cognizant of the contemporary state of Christian-Muslim interaction, he has been teaching Islam for the sake of better Christian-Muslim understanding since first joining ABTS in 2001.
- Yohanna Katanacho – Hopelessness and Despair: Yohanna is on faculty at Bethlehem Bible College, teaching in the area of Old Testament studies and Palestinian contextual theology. He also serves as on-call pastor for the Baptist Church of Nazareth and the Alliance Church in Jerusalem and is involved in church-planting, blogging, translation and the Kairos Palestine movement.
- Elie Haddad – Emigration: Elie is the President of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS). Born and raised in Lebanon, Elie immigrated to Canada towards the end of the civil war in Lebanon in 1990. He returned to Lebanon, however, after receiving a powerful calling to ministry with ABTS. As such, Elie is ideally placed to reflect Biblically and theologically on the myriad complexities surrounding the topic of emigration.
Theological & Pastoral Response to Keynote Presentation
Each day, at least one local or regional leader will be invited to respond to the keynote presentation/paper. During these sessions contributors will seek to address questions such as:
- What does the keynote paper/presentation mean for the congregations of the regional church?
- What opportunities do these situations provide to the church in terms of its ongoing witness in the region?
- How do we, as the Body of Christ, discern God’s will for the church and its members in the face of such adversities? What does it mean to be a prophetic community?
At least two people from different contexts will share about their firsthand experiences of the issue being addressed that day. These will be in the form of a presentation, interview, or panel discussion. The sorts of questions we would like to reflect on within these times include:
- In what ways have you personally experienced the topic being addressed – e.g. persecution, hopelessness, emigration etc.?
- What, if anything, brings you hope despite the many challenges you have or continue to face?
- In what way do the scriptures speak in to your experience?
Global Cross-Check Presentation
MEC provides a unique opportunity for the MENA and global church to learn from each other and grow together in unity and solidarity, as we together seek to discern the mind of Christ for our diverse contexts. As such, at least one person each day from beyond the MENA will seek to make connections across diverse global realities as it relates to that day’s theme. The type of things that might be explored within these presentations include:
- The ways in which diverse global communities have responded to the issues being explored
- Theological & Biblical reflections on the theme form different contexts
- Recommendations for the global church in relation to the MENA church
Morning Devotion and Corporate Worship
Dr. Gary Nelson will be sharing Biblical reflections on the theme of leading prophetically through disorienting times. Gary is the author of Leading in Disorienting Times: Navigating Church and Organizational Change and President of Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, Canada.
Workshops and Additional Consultation Papers
Finally, IMES has partnered this year with the Commission for Theology and Education, and the Commission for Freedom and Justice of the European Baptist Federation. During the two workshop slots of MEC 2017, the two commissions will be presenting papers exploring the following topics:
- Michael Rohde, Lead Pastor, Baptist Church Hannover, and former professor Old Testament in Elstal, Germany will present a paper titled: ‘Israel’s Foreign Experience and Dealing with Strangers: Theses and Questions about an Old Permanent Challenge.’
- Marion Carson, Lecturer at the Scottish Baptist College, Paisley, Scotland, and secretary of the European Baptist Federation’s Anti-trafficking Network will give a paper titled ‘After Emmaus: The Bible and Spiritual Growth.’
- Christer Daelander, Chair of the European Baptist Federation’s Commission for Freedom and Justice, will present a paper on ‘Liberation and Suffering – Biblical Reflection and Christian Experience.’
Additional presenters include:
- Nahla Ishak
- Daniel Bannoura
- Harout Selmian
- Nadia Khoury
- Haitham Jazrawi
- Rebecca Atallah
- Nabila Kassa
- Ehab el-Kharrat
During MEC 2017, IMES is very excited to host the launch of an important new book by two people closely associated with IMES. Dr. Rupen Das [Lead Faculty for History, Politics and Economics] and Brent Hamoud [recent graduate of our Master of Religion in MENA Studies program and contributor to the IMES Blog] will launch their new book, Strangers in the Kingdom: Ministering to Refugees, Migrants, and the Stateless, to be published by Langham Global Library. We are delighted that the book will be available for sale this year at MEC. One of the highlights of MEC 2016 was Brent’s ‘Ted Talk’ exploring the issue of statelessness, an issue directly related to many of the themes we will be exploring during MEC 2017.