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 2014 – Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa (June 16-20)
The purpose of the Middle East Consultation (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.
The core of MEC 2014 will consist of listening to narratives and stories emerging from within the MENA region in an effort to best identify the challenges and opportunities facing the regional church. We will hear first-hand from those who have practiced and been influenced by various approaches to discipleship, with varying degrees of fruitfulness in the region. MEC 2014 will then provide an opportunity to reflect upon and analyze the diverse social and religious dynamics at hand, asking how the church might best assist individuals and communities to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
To assist us in this process we have invited: Dr. J. Dudley Woodberry, Dean Emeritus of the School of Intercultural Studies and Senior Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary; Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell, Executive Director of the Theological Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance; Dr. John A. Azumah, Associate Professor of World Christianity and Islam, Columbia Theological Seminary; Dr. Louisa Cox, Consultant on Intercultural Relations; and Dr. J. Andrew Kirk, Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dean Emeritus of the School of Mission and World Christianity, Selly Oaks Colleges, Birmingham. In keeping with the IMES ethos and MEC tradition, we will also be inviting Muslim voices to contribute to this important conversation, during specific interfaith sessions.
Building upon 10 years of successful Middle East Conferences, IMES is pleased to announce a fresh focus for 2014 in partnership with Near East Initiatives (NEI). The Middle East Consultation exists to help practitioners, scholars, pastors, teachers, missionaries, and faith-based NGO workers explore what God has been doing throughout the Middle East & North Africa. For additional information, please contact: IMES@abtslebanon.org.
2) Middle East Immersion, Lebanon 2014 (June 16 – July 18)
Middle East Immersion (MEI), Lebanon provides international students the opportunity to practice intercultural work in a dynamic context and engage in mutual learning between Christian and Muslim communities. Graduate seminary and intercultural studies students have the opportunity to earn up to 12 credits of coursework in fulfillment of intercultural practicum requirements, while being exposed to Muslim-Christian relations in the context of Lebanon.
Now in its 8th year, MEI Lebanon has hosted international students from Fuller Theological Seminary, Truett Theological Seminary, Talbot School of Theology, Bethel Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, among others, who have come to spend their summers in Lebanon and study under the guidance of IMES Leadership. While in Lebanon, students participate in the following:
- The Middle East Consultation 2014 – Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa
- Intensive Levantine-Arabic language study with the Academy of Language and Practicum Skill (ALPS)
- A cross-cultural immersion experience/practicum placement meeting the specific interests and skills of the student
- Field visits, weekend excursions, church and mosque visits, and extra activities throughout Beirut and Lebanon
3) MRel in MENA Studies – Christianity Module Residency (June 23-July 4)
Immediately following MEC2014, students in IMES’s Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program begin two very full weeks for the residency portion of their MENA Christianity module, under the supervision of IMES Director Martin Accad. As lead faculty for the MENA Christianity module, Dr. Accad will be assisted by Mike Kuhn as support faculty and Eastern Orthodox monk Fr. Elia Khalifeh as holistic formation faculty.
MENA Christianity seeks to develop within students a deep appreciation for and command of the thinking and practice of the Christian East, its traditions, history, and creeds, as well as its unity and division. We seek to instill a passionate desire to engage and interact positively, creatively, and in mutual trust, with the Christians of the MENA region – to the point that they are able to communicate together a common passion for Jesus that leads to cooperative witness in the MENA region. Students will be instructed in the ability to articulate Christian doctrine using a contextually-appropriate contemporary idiom within the broad lines of historical orthodoxy, approaches and skills for Christian-Christian relations, the ability to develop strategies for inter-church cooperation, and peace-building and conflict transformation strategies.
During their 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 Middle East. As part of their residency, students from as far away as Brazil, Cyprus, the U.K., Korea, the U.S., Egypt, the Netherlands, and of course Lebanon itself will be studying the MENA region…within the MENA region!
For more information about the MRel in MENA Studies program, please follow the appropriate links: Program Overview/Academic Flow and Delivery Format/Core Instructional Modules/Faculty/Application Documents
4) Special Event – “The Great Omission: How Christian Missions Transformed the World” (June 17)
It has become commonplace, and all too easy, to malign the efforts of the early protestant missionary movement with accusations of colonialism and shocking examples of cultural insensitivity. Whilst there have been terrible abuses in the name of ‘mission’, Robert Woodberry’s ground breaking research has provided a solid foundation for a different narrative, a narrative which cannot now be ignored.
Published in the American Political Science Review in May 2012, and based on some of the most extensive research ever conducted in this field, Woodberry has been able to clearly demonstrate that ‘areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations’.
His extensive article ‘The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy’ is a game-changer in the study of mission history, and economic development. Woodberry suggests that perhaps we should try to learn why missionaries seem to have been so effective at promoting economic development, even though that was not their primary goal’.
The Institute of Middle East Studies is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an event in which Dr. Robert Woodberry will be presenting elements of his research. The event will take place on Tuesday 17th June at 7:30pm at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Mansourieh. What has been the impact of protestant missionary activity in Lebanon? Protestant pastor and historian of Eastern Christianity Rev. Habib Badr will be providing a local response to Woodberry in what promises to be an important opportunity to reflect on the role of mission within the Lebanese context and more widely.
5) ABTS Graduation Ceremony (June 22)
Although not specifically an IMES event (at least until our first MRel students graduate next year), as a department of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, IMES is very proud of this year’s seventeen Department of Theology graduates and wish them nothing but joy in their future lives and vocations. (Many of us also teach for the Department of Theology.)
Students from as far away as Morocco, Iraq, and everywhere in-between have come to ABTS to study the Bible, theology, and ministry in the Arabic language. In fulfillment of its vision and mission, the ABTS Department of Theology offers the following degree programs:
- 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: