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Christians in the Muslim World

THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES AT THE SERVICE OF ECUMENISM

The MECC (Middle East Council of Churches) is an independent association of all the most widespread Christian confessions in the Middle East: Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant. It has been in the Gulf since the 1980s and is present in all the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. In the last seven years, the MECC has followed three main lines of action in the Gulf:

 

1) Establish communication among the Christian communities of the Gulf. Stimulate ecumenism among the faithful; contribute to peaceful relations among the communities; propitiate the formation of local councils and associations; open channels of communication with other communities present in the Middle East and other regions; publish a bulletin for the different confessions.

 

2) Create freedom of religion for Christian communities. Provide means for the leaders of the communities to grow in their knowledge of Islam, as well as other religions and cultures; search for opportunities for constructive dialogue with the Muslim community; monitor the movements of expatriate Christian missionaries and prepare advice for dialogue; to monitor the current conditions undergoing transformation, for Christians in relation to the societies and governments in the Gulf region.

 

3) Support Christian confessions in their testimony and service in the Gulf. Organise conferences and workshops dealing with particular questions concerning Christians; support and encourage the work of those communities who deal with the difficult situation which many immigrant workers are exposed to; build networks with local, regional and international organisations which deal with helping immigrant workers.

 

The MECC has its main office in the Gulf, known as the MECC Gulf Liaison. It had been situated in Dubai since '97, but has recently moved to Oman in order to develop its presence in the Gulf. It works in close cooperation with the Al-Amana Center of Mascate. The centre is trying to establish relations between Christian and Muslim communities in the Gulf and it works toward the development of a better knowledge of Muslim societies in the West and vice-versa. The MECC and Al-Amana are cooperating on themes such as Dialogue, Diakonia and Ecumenism. The centre will assist MECC with its equipment for meeting, seminars and workshops. A new internet site has opened at www.mec-churches.org, in order to facilitate the exchange of information and make it accessible to everyone, as well as divulgating the spirit of ecumenism, friendship and cooperation among Christians. The website, which contains documents in English and Arabic, has information on the activities of the different Christian communities, on initiatives related to ecumenism in the Middle East, on history, nature, aims, and future programmes of the Council itself.

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