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Despite the global suffering and the imminent danger caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the virus did not hinder the work of the Steering Committee of the “Restoration Fund for rehabilitation of faith-based social services & religious infrastructure damaged during the crisis in Syria”. In fact, the committee held an online meeting that gathered the representatives of the participating churches, representatives of Kerk in Actie (KiA) – Netherlands, which is the donor of the program, and senior officials from the General Secretariat of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC).

The official launching of the program was postponed due to the exceptional circumstances resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine. However, these though conditions did not preclude the practical and technical launch of the program that took place during this online meeting.

The goal of the program is to contribute towards the holistic recovery of local communities by restoring and rehabilitating their places of worship as well as faith-based education, health and community facilities damaged by the conflict, and to guarantee the return of affected communities to their areas of residence, work and schools.

On behalf of Dr Souraya Bechealany, the secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches, Samer Laham, the regional director of the Diakonia department, gave a speech in which he highlighted that: “whenever two or three are gathered, Jesus is there among them”. He announced the launch of the program by the grace of our Risen Lord adding that “its main objective is to reflect that we are working together towards a common ecumenical witness based on Jesus Christ. The program also aims at enabling churches to continue offering their social, educational and spiritual services to all affected groups in different environments, while ensuring justice and equality regardless of social, cultural or religious backgrounds”.

Laham continued his speech by saying that he hopes this pioneering project will encourage local and international partner churches to collaborate and cooperate in order to achieve the desired objectives “which mainly are the return of the displaced and refugees to their towns and villages, and the consolidation of Christian presence that has been expanding since the birth of Christianity in this region of the world”. At the end, he thanked the sponsoring church, which is one of the council’s main partners, for constantly supporting all its programs, and every person who donated to express their solidarity.

In addition, Wilbert van Saane, the representative of “Kerk in Actie”, donor of the program, gave his speech in which he stated the following: “I would like to express our unwavering commitment to the program for restoring faith-based social services and religious infrastructure, that is funded by the Restoration Fund. Our country has been very much impacted by the coronavirus. Yet, as Evangelical Church in the Netherlands, we continue to feel a special call to assist in the restoration of Syria’ communities at this time”.

He added, “as living stones we continue to be built into the spiritual temple, even when we are not physically in the same location”.

Moreover, Saane expressed that his Church is pleased to work on restoring the rich and compassionate religious and social ministries of the Syrian churches in different parts of the country. He also stressed that this project supports many local communities, especially those that cannot afford to bear the entire costs of the restoration of their infrastructure. At the end, he stated that this program is a “beautiful, ecumenical initiative gathering all ecumenical churches in Syria and fostered by the Middle East Council of Churches”.


Source: National News Agency

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