Beirut conference to examine impact of migration on Middle East Christians

 Testimonies by young Christians from the Middle East on why many of them leave the region in search of a brighter future will inform the Public Hearing on Migration and the Changing Ecclesial Landscape to be held in Beirut, from 15 to 16 April. An ecumenical delegation headed by World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia will attend the hearing at the outset of a seven-day visit to the region focusing on migration as a global phenomenon. Researchers at Middle Eastern universities, politicians and diplomats, along with top level representatives of ecumenical agencies will bring additional input to the hearing, which is open to the public. The hearing will focus on the causes and implications of migration, multiculturalism and diversity, within the context of the Middle East peace process. The public hearing will be followed by a two-day meeting of the Global Ecumenical Network on Migration (GEM), which brings together regional ecumenical organizations, churches and Christian agencies working on the topic in different parts of the world. The meeting will be an opportunity for discussion on the churches' response to challenges posed by migration and the need to find ways to live together in diverse societies. On 17-18 April, the delegation led by the WCC general secretary [see participants list below] will continue to the United Arab Emirates to engage in a dialogue with representatives of various churches present in the Gulf states. During a 19 to 22 April official visit to the churches in Syria, the delegation will take part in celebrations around the Orthodox Palm Sunday and Holy Week, and learn how the churches in this country keep alive their traditions, even as their presence is challenged by the emigration of many young Christians. It will also hear from the local churches about their work with Iraqi refugees and their long experience in dialogue and living together with their Muslim neighbours. Both the public hearing and the GEM meeting will take place at the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia and be hosted by the Middle East Council of Churches, which is also co-organizing the WCC delegation's visit to Syria and the Gulf and whose general secretary, Mr Guirgis Saleh, will accompany the delegation. Source: WCC

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