Near East School of Theology (NEST) - July 2018 Update
An Olive Tree for NEST
Visitors to NEST will find that there is a newly planted olive tree at the entrance of the building. The tree is a gift from the local committee of the Women’s World Day of Prayer (WDP). In gratitude and appreciation for many years of holding the annual service of the WDP in the large chapel of the seminary, the local committee donated and planted an olive tree on February 27, 2018. NEST has been hosting the event for over 25 years. In my words of thanks to the WDP Committee I highlighted the long history that binds NEST to this international prayer event and how NEST is a natural home for this ecumenical event that is led and done by women. “Ecumenical” and “women” are two concerns and themes that are at the heart of the mission of NEST.
The seminary has been a pioneer in founding and promoting ecumenical cooperation and institutions; it participates actively in all ecumenical activities, and it teaches in an ecumenical and inclusive manner. And NEST has been a major supporter of women’s causes and issues: it had the first woman pastor and professor (the late Rev. Elsa Farr), the first woman seminary president in the Middle East (Dr. Mary Mikhael); half of its full-time faculty today are women; it has the highest ratio of female to male students among all seminaries in the Middle East; and the first two Middle Eastern women who were ordained last year are alumnae of NEST.
It is indeed most appropriate and very symbolic to decorate the entrance to NEST with an olive tree, a rich and profound biblical symbol. The olive tree and its branches signify “peace” in the Bible, especially in the Genesis story of the flood. But olive trees are also associated with prayer, for it was on the Mount of Olives that Jesus prayed. An olive tree, symbolizing Peace and Prayer, welcomes and leads you into our seminary!
Forum of Christian-Muslim Thought
The Forum of Christian-Muslim Thought held a dialogue session on the topic “Is There a Moderate Islam and an Extremist Islam?” on March 1. Sheikh Shafiq Jiradi, Head of an Islamic Study and Research Center, lectured on the topic, and Dr. George Sabra engaged him in discussion questions.
NEST and ETSC Consultation
The full-time faculty of NEST met with five visiting members of the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) in a consultation at NEST from January 29-31. Consultations between the two seminaries have taken place in the past, and this year’s meeting was the continuation of a longstanding relationship. ETSC President Atef Gendy led the group from Egypt. The two faculties exchanged information about the current situation of each seminary, then discussed themes around short papers prepared by the participants.
Possible areas of cooperation and mutual enrichment, as well as joint projects, were also discussed. Two joint projects were agreed upon and put forward for further discussion and implementation: publishing the late Kenneth Bailey’s articles on New Testament topics in Arabic and working together on producing a lexicon of Arabic theological terms that could serve as a high-quality reference work. The consultation also included fellowship and a social/archeological outing, where both faculties went on a day-trip to Tyre to visit the historical and archeological sites. It was agreed to continue the joint meetings, and ETSC invited the NEST faculty to Cairo in January 2019.
As always, we appreciate your partnership with us in the work of the Kingdom as we seek to equip the church in Lebanon for training leaders. Scholarships for students are still needed.
Grateful for your support,
Dr. George Sabra, NEST President and The Outreach Foundation
Read more about Near East School of Theology HERE.
The Outreach Foundation is seeking $20,000 for scholarships and general operations at NEST.