CHRISTIANITY AND THE MIDDLE EAST: Prominent Christian Arabs to Be Featured in U.S. and Canadian Events in November

Article excerpt

CHRISTIANITY AND THE MIDDLE EAST: Prominent Christian Arabs to be Featured in U.S. And Canadian Events in November

Chicago-based Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU) has scheduled its 1998 National Convention on "Religious Freedom and the Future of Christianity in the Middle East" for Nov. 5-7 at the National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC. It will be followed Nov. 8-10 by a similar event focusing on "Truth and Reconciliation: Voices for Peace in the Holy Land," sponsored by the Ann Arbor-based Friends of Sabeel-North America in the Citadel Hotel and Conference Center, Ottawa, Canada, with the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa as co-sponsor.

Among the prominent speakers offered, two will appear at both events. They are: Dr. Gabriel Habib, executive general secretary from 1977 to 1994 of the Middle East Council of Churches -- a recognized authority on Christianity in the Middle East who now is international consultant to the National Council of Churches (USA) -- and Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Center in Jerusalem, when he was canon of the Anglican church's St. George's Cathedral there.

Ateek's interview by editor James M. Wall on "The Palestinian Story" in the June 17-24 Christian Century included the cutout quotation: "Islam is not the problem. We have lived with Islam for 1,400 years. The problem is Israel."

One of two panels in Washington will examine the questions "Who Are the Middle East Christians?" and "What Challenges Do They Face?" It will include both Habib and Ateek, along with Prof. Yvonne Haddad of Georgetown University. A second panel on "What Are the Responsibilities of Western Christians?" will be addressed by Prof. Gary Burge of Wheaton College, Rev. Lynne Faris, missions pastor of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, and Dr. Martin Bailey, president of the board of Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, CT. A plenary session on "The Arab-Christian and Islam," will be led by Bishop Kenneth Cragg (now at Oxford University). Among his more than two dozen books are The Arab Christian and Palestine: The Prize and Price of Zion. The plenary session will be followed by discussion groups, all focusing on an "Update on the Middle East: Country Analyses," but divided geographically into panels focusing on Iraq and Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, Palestine and Israel, Egypt and the Sudan, and the Gulf.

Another Washington panel on "Current Dynamics and Challenges Facing Middle East Christians" will include a Coptic Christian and an Iraqi Christian, with Habib and Ateek as resource persons. A second panel dealing with "Models of Responsibility" will be opened by President Joan Brown Campbell of the National Council of Churches, who is also on President Clinton's Commission on Religious Freedom. Scheduled to serve with her on the panel are Director Nina Shea of Freedom House, who will discuss "Advocacy," leader Steve Haas of "Prayer for the Persecuted Church" who will discuss "Prayer and Fellowship," and Dr. …