General Secretary’s Letter from Beirut

General Secretary

PYM General Secretary Christie Duncan-Tessmer is currently traveling as a member of a delegation of the National Council of Churches to the Middle East. This ten-day trip includes visits with diplomats, politicians, church leaders, and activists in Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, and Palestine. PYM will be posting periodic updates from Christie this week during her trip, to share what the NCC delegation is seeing and witnessing through our General Secretary’s eyes.

It is 1:25 a.m. I just got back to the hotel from visiting with a member of the Quaker meeting here in Lebanon. The daytime, from 8-6 was entirely devoted to a series of conversations with people from the Middle East Council of Churches, including the General Secretary, the staff for Ecumenical Relief and the president of the board. The conversations were largely about the relationship between Christians and Muslims and the integral role religion plays in governance – it is in many ways the opposite of our separation of church and state.

The last meeting was at the National Evangelical Church of Beirut (Evangelical means Protestant here) on the green line. The green line is the line between the predominantly Christian East and the predominantly Muslim West in Beirut during the civil war (1975-1990). The National Evangelical Church, the first Arabic-language protestant church in Beirut, was destroyed except for the clock tower. The church has been completely rebuilt but the clock tower is still marked by the small arms fire that struck it.

I am delighted that it did work out in the end that I could visit with Tony Manasseh, a Lebanese Friend who lives in Philadelphia part of the time where he attends Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. We talked until 1:00 a.m. about Quakerism, refugees, the relationship between Christians and Muslims, our families, growing our Meetings, education, the Lebanese Civil War and a million other things. I would have continued to talk all night if I didn’t need to get up to leave for the airport at 5 a.m.

Christie Duncan-Tessmer
PYM General Secretary