NEST Newsletter Fall 2013
In the prayers of the early church, Christians offered prayers to God upon rising from sleep. God is thanked for granting them another day in which to live and praise God’s holy name. It was not taken for granted that simply by going to sleep the night before people will awaken in the morning. One such daily prayer from the Orthodox tradition says: “Glory to you, King, God almighty, who through your divine and loving providence have consented that I, an unworthy sinner, should rise from sleep and obtain entrance into your holy house.” It is a special providential act of God, His gracious gift, that we awaken for yet another day. People went to sleep, as if they were going into a dark and dangerous place; many never awakened; people die in their sleep, and still do. It is this sense of uncertainty about the next day, the next week, the next month that we live these days in Lebanon and Syria.
With wars, conflicts, bombings and violence all around us, it is hard not to live in uncertainty and apprehension about the immediate future. That is why we are thankful for every day that we are given in which to praise God by our thoughts, words and deeds. It is in this spirit that we, at NEST, thank God for bringing us to yet another academic year and enabling us to continue our ministry of theological education and ministerial formation in these turbulent times through which Lebanon and neighboring countries are passing. In September, as tension escalated in the region due to an expected military strike on Syria, we thought that news of any military action would mean disruption of the school year and would certainly cause our foreign students to cancel their coming to NEST. As it turned out, 5 out of the 6 students admitted to the Studies in the Middle East Program (SiMO) actually showed up; only one cancelled due to the situation. All our former students returned as well.
The academic year began on October 1 with an Opening Convocation held in the NEST Chapel and attended by all students, staff, faculty and several Board members. New students from Syria, Lebanon, Germany, and Canada were welcomed. The Convocation Address entitled “Witness to Truth: A Personal Reflection” was given by Eleanor Dorman Johnson, a longtime friend of NEST and daughter of former faculty member, Dr. Harry Dorman (1947-54). Mrs. Dorman Johnson spoke about her long term association with NEST, and reminded the NEST community “that you are part of a long tradition which has sustained NEST through many crises and difficulties. Those who have gone before you, and who have faced the challenges of their own times, have left a legacy of considerable wisdom and experience for you to draw upon. NEST’s ability to face the challenges of today lies, with the grace of God, in the strength of the individuals who founded this institution, in those administrators, members of the faculty, and students,
who have carried it forward to this moment – and it lies in you here today who will shape the NEST of tomorrow.”
Dr. George Sabra, President
Near East School of Theology