Middle East Consultation 2020

The Gospel in Public Life: Biblical Foundations for Engaging Politics
and Society in the MENA Region and Beyond

June 15-19

In response to the unprecedented situation brought on by the coronavirus crisis the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary has decided to enact major changes concerning plans for MEC. Like much of the world, Lebanon is taking swift and drastic action to mitigate deteriorating public health conditions brought on by the virus and it is no longer deemed viable to organize a global gathering at the seminary. We are aware of the gravity of the situation and committed to taking responsible measures to protect individuals and communities in Lebanon and around the world.

Work is currently underway to reconceptualize MEC 2020 in light of recent events. ABTS intends to facilitate an urgent discussion on The Gospel in Public Life and the team is investigating ways to craft MEC in a way that will allow for remote participation. Details of development will be communicated in the weeks ahead as modified plans come together.

Feel free to contact us with any questions about MEC 2020. We appreciate your understanding.

The purpose of the Middle East Consultation is to equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East.

The public has always been a precarious place for religion, but it has never been a place that communities of faith can avoid. A Biblical mandate to be salt and light applies in all circumstances and truth is to be proclaimed in and out of season. We are not witnessing ordinary times; it is no easy task to demonstrate the gospel within conditions marked by division, uncertainty and peril in the public sphere. It demands serious reflection and inspired vision for the church to imagine its prophetic role for such a time as this.

Whether you are a pastor or a church planter, a youth worker or Sunday school teacher, a Christian development worker, human rights activist or public policy expert, an academic student or teacher, or a business entrepreneur, we invite you to participate in this increasingly important discussion at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary on June 15-19 during Middle East Consultation 2020 – The Gospel in Public Life: Biblical Foundations for Engaging Politics and Society in the MENA Region and Beyond.

Everyone must navigate the public dimensions of life, and faith convictions profoundly shape the ways that individuals and communities approach political and social realities unfolding around them. From voting in an election to serving in public office, voicing public concern on social media to participating in a civil protest, we all assume degrees of presence in the public square. This part of life is becoming more complex.

Governments and citizenries throughout the MENA region are witnessing periods of profound unrest as deep-seated political, economic and social ills reach boiling points. The experience is not exceptional to this part of the world; winds are shifting across national landscapes as people question the fibers of public life and pursue notions of social justice, human dignity and meaningful citizenship. In some cases, masses of disgruntled citizens are taking to the streets demanding change, while other places are exploring new national courses through political processes decided in the voting booth. No one quite knows how events will unfold.

Topics both thrilling and unsettling will be on full display at MEC 2020 as a global gathering discusses how faith can inspire prophetic presence amid highly charged public dynamics. The consultation will weave together a reasoned study of political and social trends, a diligent reading of scripture and a thoughtful consideration of history in order to shed hopeful light on the complex issues of today. The questions before us include:

  • How does a pursuit of the common good contribute to a theology of public life?
  • What is a Biblical posture towards governance, and how does faith direct our allegiances to worldly authorities?
  • What is the role of faith values and morality in shaping laws and implementing public policies?
  • How are we to address injustices, and what are scriptural parameters for civil protest and disobedience?
  • What challenges and opportunities do Muslims and Christians face when interacting together in the context of public life?

MEC 2020 is poised to be a meaningful event of vibrant debate about important issues facing the church in the MENA region and around the world. The discussion will entail a host of pressing questions and fluid situations, and complete agreement may not be achievable. Even so, a faithful exploration of Scripture and a keen study of our times will stir fruitful dialogue and illuminate ways to move forward in faithful witness to Christ. We hope you will join us in Beirut, June 15-19.

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