Group photo of participants

Participants of the Regional Ecumenical Theological Institute conference in Cairo.


The event, held from 23-30 July, was also the first-ever ATIME's Ecumenical Students Regional Conference. Academicians from ATIME coordinated the activities with young theologians who came from throughout the region. 

WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay shared warm greetings with the students.

As Christians we face many challenges in these days and weeks. As Christians from the Middle East, you are especially and fully aware of them. Our world is a messy place at the moment,” wrote Pillay. It is therefore of particular importance for Christians to speak with one voice and to speak out together in society.”

Rev. Prof. Dr Benjamin Simon, World Council of Churches programme executive for Ecumenical Theological Education, said he was inspired by the young generation gathered in Cairo.

They were clearly not only learning together—they were praying together, and forming ideas they will carry back to their home communities and churches,” said Simon. We are looking forward to bringing the Regional Ecumenical Theological Institute into other areas, particularly given the bonds we saw growing stronger every day in Cairo.”

Participant Aline Tahazian reflected on aspects of the experience that held deep meaning for her. This is really something that is the first of its kind,” said Tahazian, who lives in Lebanon, and is part of the Armenian Evangelical Church. There were many moments where we realized how much we have in common.”

She added that she felt part of history in the making. We were in a place, and in a moment, where we were all connecting,” she said. There was more agreement than disagreement.”

She lives in a neighborhood in Lebanon that has several different churches. Ive always thought, one day we will invite them together, and the Regional Ecumenical Theological Institute was a confirmation that we should start doing this in youth groups,” she said. We need to emphasize the one body of Christ.”

With such unity, Tahazian said, comes hope. We are in an era in which we need to be united because there are currents in the world we cannot fight if we are divided,” she said. "We are privileged to be living in an era where we are allowed to have different theological perspectives.”

Shes already seeing outcomes from the time in Cairo. The hope from the conference is that we go back and apply what weve learned on the ground where we are,” she said.

More about the conference from the Middle East Council of Churches