The story shared by Fr Yukoub Babawe of the Oum-El-Nour Relief Committee of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Iraq’s city of Erbil moved and challenged participants at a recent meeting in Beirut.
Each day churches in Erbil have offered shelter, food and basic support to more than 20,000 people from the Nineveh plain and Mosul during an occupation by terrorist fighters from the group calling itself Islamic State.
Yukoub outlined Oum-El-Nour’s initiatives and revealed the suffering of the internally displaced, whilst elucidating on massive efforts and solidarity from the local community and the church in their diaconal work.
He participated in a 28 November to 2 December capacity building seminar organized jointly by the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), with the support of the German Bread for the World.
The 46 participants came to Beirut’s Notre Dame du Puits monastery from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan Lebanon, and Syria, as well as from partner organizations in Europe, North America and Africa.
They reflected on vision, values and continued training on strategic planning and human resources. They were led by Dr Jean Kors of the International Center for Organizational Development (ICOD).
Participants were welcomed by: MECC President, Rev. Habib Bader; MECC General Secretary, Father Michel Jalakh; the MECC Director of Ecumenical Relief Servicers (ERS), Samer Laham; WCC Associate General Secretary Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri; and Rev. Dr Kjell Nordstokke of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
Historical trends along with the challenges of migration and immigration in and from the region, were analyzed.
Every evening, there were reports on their work, offering examples of their regional diaconal work.
Participants underlined that cooperation and networking among the churches and church-related relief and development organizations needs improving.
Further, a need was outlined for staff training related to actual needs, drafting of visions and missions for each organization, formulating overall goals, specific objectives and expected outcomes.
Group discussions also pointed to the importance developing the performance of the concerned organizations in relief and development.
Samer Laham affirmed that the seminar showed the MECC is ready to respond to performance requests.
- Middle East Council of Churches
- World Council of Churches
- BLESS / Coptic Orthodox Church
- Armenian Evangelical Social Action Committee
- Orthodox Youth Movement
- Howard Karagheusian Medico-Social Center
- Mennonite Central Committee
- World Student Christian Federation - Middle East
- ACT Alliance
- Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon / Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church
- St Ephram Patriarchal Development Committee / Syriac Orthodox Church
- Armenian Evangelical Church
- National Evangelical Church of Beirut
- DORCAS Relief and Development
- World Vision
- CEOSS / Coptic Evangelical Organisation for Social Services
- International Orthodox Christian Charities
- National Evangelical Synod in Syria and Lebanon
- Christian Aid Program in Northern Iraq (CAPNI)
- Chaldean Church
- Council of Services and Development Synod of the Nile
- Oum-El-Nour Relief Committee / Syriac Orthodox Church
[image credit: Bethany M. Waggoner]