The Swiss Church Aid organization HEKS has launched new partnerships with churches in Syria and Lebanon. The Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches FSPC played a major role in encouraging this support for threatened Christians in the Middle East. Now, after three years of preparation, the partnership program will be officially launched.

This Friday, January 18, the FSPC will welcome Rosangela Jarjour, General Secretary of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches FMEEC. Shortly afterwards, several sample projects will be presented at the conference for interchurch cooperation on January 19 in Zurich. Among other things, the program supports after-school programs and church vacation camps for children and youths in twelve Syrian parishes and provides scholarships for Christian churches.

“In the transition phase between war and rebuilding in Syria, it is absolutely crucial to strengthen the solidarity among churches,” said Council Vice President Daniel Reuter with reference to the new partnership. If the churches raise awareness for their unconditional caritative work for the country’s population, they gain the opportunity to play a constructive role in the rebuilding the country and to defend their rights. “Our churches have been urging us for years to make the support for threatened Christians in the region more visible. This has also been the subject of an appeal issued by the joint delegation of the FSPC and the Swiss Bishops’ Conference during a visit in late 2015,” adds Daniel Reuter. The HEKS partnership program is now developing with the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon NESSL, the largest Reformed Church in Syria, and the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East UAECNE.

Rosangela Jarjour expresses her hope that through HEKS, the Swiss churches will re-intensify the old ties between the European and Middle Eastern churches. HEKS has been conducting programs with Reformed Churches in Central Eastern Europe for several decades. This expansion to the Middle East is an important milestone.

In addition, the Département missionnaire of the Protestant Churches of Western Switzerland in Lausanne has been maintaining long-term ties to the region through its partner organization Action chrétienne en Orient.