International Orthodox Christian News

On Thursday 12 February 2009, the second course of the European Project for Inter-religious Learning (EPIL) came to its conclusion at the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, in Lebanon. To mark the process two important events were organized. First a graduation ceremony where the 25 students presented their projects to the Academic Team Members and to the co-founders and Co-Directors Mrs. Teny Simonian and Dr. Reinhild Traitler. Prof. Ulrich Becker, the president of EPIL made the keynote address and gave the Diplomas.

In the afternoon the International Symposium was held under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I. The Symposium brought together academics, dialogue experts, theologians both from Lebanon and Europe. Among the speakers were Dr. Tarek Mitri, Minister of Information, Mr. Ibrahim Shamseddine, Minister of Administrative Reform, Dr. Manuela Kalsky, Director of the Dominican Study Center in Netherlands, and Dr. Nayla Tabbara, Saint Joseph University, Lebanon.

In his closing speech His Holiness Aram I said that “in today’s European societies where Islam is an integral part. Women should highlight the importance of living together by accepting differences, and showing their respective societies that Christianity and Islam can live together.”

EPIL is a two-year five-module Roaming College for European Christian and Muslim Women. The goal of the project is to build mutual trust among women. The students travel to five cities, Zurich, Vienna, Sarajevo and Cologne and Beirut to highlight different aspects of the curricula aimed at trust building. The course ends since Lebanon is considered to be an example of a country where people are committed to staying together, and still searching models for reconciliation. Education happens through living together, traveling together, and by learning together through encounters and theoretical work.

The project grew out of the experience of Dr. Reinhild Traitler as Study Director at the Boldern Protestant Academy in Zurich, and Mrs. Teny Simonian as staff of the World Council of Churches, when His Holiness Aram I was the Moderator.

The Lebanese module was made possible through partnership with Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation in Lebanon, the Arab Countries, the World Council of Churches, and contributions from The Bank Beirut and Arab Countries and many parishes in Germany and Switzerland.


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