Without question, June is consistently our busiest month of the year at the Institute of Middle East Studies. As such, we wish to highlight a number of the projects that we have 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 Consultation 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity (19 – 23 June)
We live in disorienting times. This is a reality for the church in many parts of the world today, not least the church of the Middle East. Many factors, historical and social, have reduced the church to the status of minority, in which persecution and hopelessness have become a reality for many. How must our theology inform our response?
During IMES’ Middle East Consultation (MEC) 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity, participants will seek to discern a biblical framework that avoids both self-victimization and triumphalism and encourages the church to prophetically embrace adversity in a way that activates growth and development rather than discouragement and stagnation.
MEC 2017 provides a unique context for the MENA and global church to address a range of critical issues, focusing on the themes of persecution and suffering; minoritization; hopelessness and despair; and emigration. Together we will explore how the Body of Christ can best respond to such challenges, exploring Biblical and theological responses when confronted with adversity.
Click here for additional information about MEC 2017.
2) ABTS Graduation: Another Big Year for IMES! (25 June)
Immediately following MEC 2017 is the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary Graduation Ceremony. Not only are we thrilled to celebrate with our resident theology and ABTS online students, but we are very excited as this is IMES’ second year to graduate students from our Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program!
Having completed four core modules (MENA Islam; MENA History, Politics and Economics; MENA Christianity; and MENA Cultures), essential language learning, electives, and the MRel Final Project, our students have done remarkable work to make it to this point and have every right to be incredibly proud of themselves and their accomplishments. For our part, we at IMES are extremely proud of our graduates.
With regard to her experience, one of our soon to be graduates writes:
My time in the MRel program proved to be an extremely formative period in my life. Not only did it spur my growth both academically and spiritually, but it dramatically shifted the course of my life and ministry. It opened my eyes to realities and opportunities in the region previously unseen, while also providing me with a conceptual framework and analytical tools to engage in new and unexpected ways. It broadened my horizons from a Kingdom perspective, which has bled into every other area of my life. Moreover, I cannot overestimate the value of the relationships that were formed. I was challenged and inspired by my classmates, and was surrounded by faculty who supported and catalyzed my development. Looking back, I don’t think I could have ever predicted how such a simple decision would launch me on such a transformative journey, and I will forever be grateful to the faculty and staff who made that possible.
The MRel in MENA Studies program is a unique and innovative multidisciplinary program based in the MENA region. This postgraduate degree focuses on providing a strong theoretical understanding of the region and the issues that it faces, combined with an emphasis on developing applied skills needed to work in the region and among MENA communities worldwide. It is based upon a strong theological and Biblical framework in that each module weaves scripture and theology into its theory and practice.
3) MRel in MENA Studies: MENA History, Politics and Economics Residency (26 June – 7 July)
Immediately following both MEC 2017 and the ABTS graduation ceremony, students in IMES’s MRel in MENA Studies program begin two very full weeks for the residency portion of their MENA History, Politics and Economics module, under the supervision of Dr. Rupen Das. As lead faculty for the MENA History, Politics and Economics module Dr. Das will be assisted by Jesse Wheeler as support instructor and Elias Ghazal as holistic formation instructor.
The MENA History, Politics and Economics module seeks to develop an inter‐disciplinary understanding of the historical, political and economic dynamics that have shaped the contemporary Middle East and North Africa. This course looks at the formative historical developments of the modern era, major macroeconomic issues at present, and the complexities of regional poverty. It seeks also to explore the manner by which such realities intersect with the idea of the Kingdom of God, as a lens through which to understand and engage with the contemporary MENA. As part of the residency, students will gain training in contextual analysis, needs assessment and problem analysis, project design (developing the logic for change), and peace-building frameworks and strategies, as well visit special ministry, NGO and historical sites and learn first-hand from a variety of practitioners in the region.
During their residency, students and faculty will be together in the same location for a unique and intensive learning experience, all the while gaining critical insight into the rich historical, cultural, and religious heritage of the Middle East. Instruction and learning is accomplished through a blended delivery system combining 2-week residencies and the use of distance learning technologies that facilitate discussion and feedback.
4) Khebz w Meleh (“Bread and Salt”)
Finally, IMES is proud to continue its Khebz w Meleh (KwM) initiative throughout the summer months. Young people today are growing up in a country surrounded by different faiths yet often lead separate lives. As a result, Christian and Muslim young people can experience barriers of ignorance, fear and mistrust in their communities, which sometimes progress into hostility or conflict. KwM, an IMES peacebuilding initiative, seeks to bring together young people from different faith communities to discuss their faith around a shared meal, empower them to spearhead social change within their communities, and build authentic relationships in the process.
KwM is all about…
- Exploring faith: young people are encouraged and equipped to discuss their faith in ways which draw out both the similarities and differences between them.
- Creating friendships: by bringing together young people in a positive and fun environment we provide the opportunities for them to get to know one another, work on projects together and build ongoing friendship built on trust and respect.
- Changing lives: having been to events run by KwM the young people are challenged and enabled to live out the lessons they have learnt in their everyday lives amongst their friends, family and the wider community.
We at IMES are very much looking forward to the coming weeks and in interacting once again with our friends, students and partners and in making new acquaintances in our efforts to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims within and beyond the MENA region.