HARISSA, Lebanon

The 6th General Assembly of the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) has concluded its historic gathering and issued a final communiqué. FMEEC includes Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran churches in the region. The Assembly met from Jan. 11-13.

As reported earlier this week, the Assembly unanimously adopted a statement supporting the ordination of women as pastors by its member churches. The statement was drafted on the spot in response to a report by FMEEC’s theology committee, which found no biblical or theological reasons to oppose female ordination.

Considerable time was spent at the Assembly discussing the precipitous decline in the Christian population of the Middle East due to political and military conflict, strained Christian-Muslim relations, economic hardship and immigration.

In addition to delegates of FMEEC member churches, several representatives of international and ecumenical partners — including the Presbyrerian Cchurch (U.S.A.) — also attended as observers and guests.

The PC(USA) was represented by the Rev. Victor Makari, coordinator for the Middle East and Asia Minor in the General Assembly Mission Council’s Presbyterian World Mission, and the Rev. Sassan Tavasoli of the Outreach Foundation, a covenant partner of Presbyterian World Mission engaged in global evangelism.

The Rev. Duncan Hanson, the PC(USA)”s former coordinator for Europe who now serves in a similar capacity for the Reformed Church in America, represented that church.

The full text of the final communiqué, dated Jan. 15 and furnished to the Presbyterian News Service by Makari:

Final Communiqué
6th General Assembly
Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches

Under the theme “... and we are his house if we hold firm  the confidence, and pride the belongs to hope,” the 6th General Assembly of the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), consisting of Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed Churches, met at the conference center in Bethanya, Harissa, Lebanon, Jan. 11-13, 2010.

Leaders and representatives of the Evangelical Churches (Anglican-Lutheran-Reformed) from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine (and the Holy Land), Egypt, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the president of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Churches in Syria & Lebanon attended the meeting, as well as representatives of partner churches and church-related organizations from the Middle East, Europe and North America.

Following the opening daily devotions, the Assembly listened to a theme-centered Bible study, presented by the Rev. Makram Najeeb (Synod of the Nile) and the Rev. Janette Wooton (Evangelical Church–UK).

In his opening word to the Assembly, Bishop Munib Younan (head of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Jordan & the Holy Land), referred to the painful events the Evangelical churches in the area are facing. All the attendees expressed their solidarity with the Christians in the Middle East, especially in Palestine, Iraq, Iran and the Sudan. They expressed their sorrow for what happened lately in Naja’ Hamaadi, in Egypt, and spent a moment of silence honoring the victims thereof, praying for their families and the sister Church in Egypt, and sent to H. H. Shnouda III a message expressing their condolences and solidarity.