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Middle East Council of Churches celebrates 500th anniversary of Reformation

By Rula Samain - Oct 01,2017 - Last updated at Oct 01,2017

AMMAN — The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by evaluating the church’s influence on the prosperity of its members and society as a whole.

The three-day event, held under the patronage of HRH Prince Ghazi, concluded on Thursday, with the attendance of more than 70 heads and representatives of the evangelical churches of Syrian, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Jordan.  

Pastor of the Lutheran Church in Amman and Synod President of the Evangelical Church in Jordan and the Holy Land Samer Azar said this “monumental occasion” was the chance to celebrate “the oneness and unity of the church”, pledging to continue working for future prosperity.  

The MECC consists of Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches, Azar noted, adding that several topics were discussed during the conference, including the churches’ influence on combating terrorism.

“The churches’ involvement in enhancing education, freedom of belief, justice and equality for its members has reflected positively on society by protecting them from extremist thoughts and beliefs,” he stated.

The Lutheran Church is an Arab and national church, said Bishop-elect Ibrahim Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, adding that it was created 150 years ago in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

He said that several factors contributed to the event being held in the capital, such as the national safety and the atmosphere of pluralism. 

Rev. Paul Haidostian, president of the Haigazian University in Lebanon, and representatives of the Armenian Evangelical Church told The Jordan Times at the event that the churches’ contribution to education, art and music resulted in the creation of the first university in the region: the American University in Lebanon.

“It all started with the need to make the Bible available for all, as a result having operating some of the oldest print house, establishing the first schools for women, and universities, thus preserving the Arabic language.” 

Rev. Mitri Raheb, president of the Dar Al Kalima University in Palestine stressed the importance of translating the Bible to Arabic, saying that the book was being preached in churches in Arabic Fusha and that several generations have been trained on mastering it to preserve the language.  

Pastor Victor Macari, a member of Highland Presbyterian Church (US) said that women’s rights and youth immigration were among the challenges that were discussed at the event.

He said that youth immigration was of great concern to the church, which has held seminars to educate the youth on the importance of having an effective and positive participation in society rather than “fleeing”.  

Regarding women, Macari said that they are still facing many challenges in the region, such as employment, education, care and equality, among other issues that need to be highlighted among religious minorities. 

Ordained as the first female Evangelical minister in Lebanon and the Middle East, Pastor Najla Kassab told The Jordan Times that she was grateful for the Evangelical Church which in 1835 opened the first female church in Istanbul.

 

She stressed the need for churches and societies to enhance accountability to keep progressing.     

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