Green area with trees in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem, February 2020.  


The group convened under the leadership of H.E. Metropolitan Dr Vasilios of Constantia – Ammochostos, who reflected on the preciousness of meeting in fellowship at this point in time.

“The Middle East is in many ways a burdened area, as we all live and experience every day. But even so, it is important that our churches can exchange ideas and propose activities to promote peace in our region,” the Metropolitan said.

Bearing witness from various diasporas around the world, including in the USA and Australia, participants noted the need to reflect on the life and witness of churches in the region as a whole, as a number of countries and communities face precarious situations forcing many to leave their homes to take refuge or emigrate.

“What can the World Council of Churches as a global fellowship do to live out solidarity with Christians in the Middle East?” the group asked.

There is a need to look at the whole region and the challenges our brothers and sisters face, urged Dr Theodora Issa of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

Taking the example of the threats that many Christians have lived under in the past number of years, Issa also reflected on the dilemma of a local church losing many of its members, while at the same time it is impossible to say that people should not migrate when the safety of their children cannot be ensured.

Yet even amid such deep challenges, the Very Rev. Archimandrite Jack Khalil of the University of Balamand in Lebanon observed a sign of hope in a testimony from the Lebanese perspective, and following a recent visit to Damascus: “Although there are many challenges remaining, I could see a Damascus that was again full of life, restaurants and businesses springing up again, and Christians rebuilding churches that were destroyed. It gives real hope to see people try to recover from war, and fighting against economic problems.”

“Perhaps we can say this is a cry from Middle East Christians: ‘we want to stay home’,” Metropolitan Vassilios reflected.

An assembly theme that looks to the world

As the next meeting of the WCC’s highest governing body draws closer, Metropolitan Vassilios continued to reflect on the assembly theme of “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”

“In the past, we have mostly spoken about the unity of the church, of Christians around the world,” Vassilios reflected. “Now through this theme, we have the opportunity to embrace the unity of the world, so what does this mean? Is the WCC coming out of introspection and moving outside to see the whole world?” he asked.

The Archimandrite Jack Khalil said, “when we go anywhere, we are always convinced that Christ’s love is the solution, that Christ’s love teaches us.” 

Anne Glynn Mackoul, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, USA, reflected: “When we gather as an assembly, we inevitably speak not only to each other, but to the world. We need to model what it means to live Christian love. Can we be strong enough, love each other enough, to present a compelling story to the world, can we model a sacrificial love so that people say ‘look at the Christians, how they love each other´?”

“Love, peace, is the foundation of the kingdom of God. We need to not only speak for us, but to speak to the world,” Vassilios concluded.

WCC central committee meeting 2022

Learn more about the WCC 11th Assembly