The Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East is to launch in Beirut at the end of July in a region where Christians are face challenges different to those believers face in most other parts of the world.
Initiated by the World Student Christian Federation – Middle East, the Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East aims to promote and nurture ecumenism and interchurch collaboration in the Arab world.
It will also build bridges with people of other faiths for the sake of truthful dialogue.
Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches said on a visit to Lebanon that the institute is "promising and inspiring" in its attempt to train young Christians in ecumenical thought and history.
"With theologically well qualified teachers, the institute is introducing students to biblical studies and the diversity of Christian traditions, training them to continue with the legacy of the ecumenical movement," he said.
The WCC general secretary met with organizers, students and faculty of the Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East on July 20 during a visit to Beirut.
Some 40 students participating in the institute this year come from Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Iraq, representing diverse Christian traditions and denominations.
As a Christian youth body founded in 1895, the WSCF has offered experience in ecumenical training of young people in the Middle East region for more than 43 years.
After meeting with the students, Tveit said that amid the challenging situation of the region, the Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East holds a significant value for the churches.
Tveit called the institute "one way of supporting churches in the troubled region of the Middle East, an expression of solidarity and a viable way of building relations".
"I trust churches in the region will support this initiative and it can continue working," said Tveit.
The Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East promotes unity in diversity, peace building and security for all, by training participants who are interested in engaging in ecumenical training and thought.
Some of the training sessions will include inter-church dialogue, ecumenism, its definition, history and vision, ecumenism in the Middle East.
Courses will look at the history of the churches in the region and worldwide, ecumenical institutions, history and achievements.
Among other topics will be interfaith dialogue, biblical studies, ecumenism in church and society, contemporary issues and their impact on Middle Eastern populations, human rights and women's rights, education, development and diakonia.