“International Ecumenical Youth Meeting”

Beirut will be hosting the “International Ecumenical Youth Meeting” at the invitation of the Churches of Lebanon and the Middle East Council of Churches along with the French Ecumenical Taizé Community, from 22 to 26 March 2019, under the title “The Righteous shall grow like a Cedar of Lebanon”. Around 1,600 young men and women between 18 and 35 years old from Lebanon and various Middle Eastern countries, as well as youth from more than 43 countries around the world, will attend the first ecumenical meeting to be held in Lebanon and the Middle East. Youth from the Muslim communities will join them on March 25 to celebrate jointly the occasion of the Unified National Day of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary at Downtown Beirut.

In order to launch the event, a press conference was held on March 12, 2019, at 11.30am at the SEASIDE ARENA (formerly known as Biel). The press conference was initiated by an introduction on the event by Monsignor Toufic Bou Hadir, Coordinator of the Organizing Committee. Then, the Meeting’s activities, its spirit and its dimensions were presented along with the representatives of various spiritual families in the Middle East. Dr. Rima Nasrallah talked about the program and its spiritual dimension, followed by Father Neemeh Saliba who talked about the openness and ecumenical work which is at the heart of the Christian testimony among Christian youth and their relationship with Muslim youth. As for the international dimension and the openness of young people to dialogue and the acceptance of others, it was at the center of the intervention of Archimandrite Hrant Tahanian.

Brother Emile, media coordinator of the Taizé Community talked about the mission of ecumenical prayer of the Taizé monastic ecumenical Community and its relationship with Lebanon, as well as the aim of this Meeting. He presented a historical overview of this relationship that goes back to the beginning of the Lebanese war with the founder Brother Roger.

The Conference concluded with a speech by the Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches, Dr. Souraya Bechealany on the role of the Council in activating the spirit and ecumenical action among young people.

The Organizing Committee of this event has identified the main objectives of this national and spiritual meeting as follows:
– To deepen faith through joint prayers, Bible reading and Word-sharing.
– To allow the youth of the world to learn about the rich traditions of the Eastern Churches.
– To highlight the value and richness of ecumenical relations existing in Lebanon, and give young people coming from abroad the chance to learn about them.
– To listen to the extensive experience of coexistence between Lebanon’s Christians and their Muslim brothers.
– To show the beauty of the East, especially Lebanon, and the hospitality that characterizes it, for young people coming from abroad.

The meeting will take place from March 23 to 25, 2019. The date of arrival to Beirut will be on Friday, March 22, in the afternoon for youth coming from abroad. As for the departure date, it will be on Tuesday, March 26 in the evening.

Participants from abroad will be hosted in the homes of host and volunteer families from various churches in and around the Greater Beirut area. The activity is distributed in the afternoon to 25 parishes’ centers in the same region, about 45 minutes from the center of Beirut, where morning prayers, spiritual subjects and exchange of experiences will be held.

The central activities will be held in the center of Beirut on the afternoon of each day. Workshops and seminars will be distributed to various churches in the region and the Central Ecumenical Festive Prayers will be held in the evening at the SEASIDE ARENA (Formerly known as Biel).

The relations between the Taizé community and Lebanon date back to the early 1980s when Brother Roger, the founder of the Taizé monastic community, visited Beirut in 1982, while the war was still raging. At the time, He had launched the “Pilgrimage of Confidence across the Earth”, an initiative that brought together hundreds of thousands of young people around the world. A few years ago, contacts intensified between the Middle East Council of Churches and the Taizé community. The latter’s proposal to all churches in Lebanon was to host an international ecumenical meeting involving young people from Lebanon, various countries of the Middle East and the world.

For more details, please visit the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TaizeLebanon2019/