A three-day workshop on gender-based violence has recently taken place in the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut (Lebanon). A premiere in the church context in the Middle East. The workshop was financed by the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS), which has been actively involved with this topic for years.
“We all face situations of gender-based violence in our churches. Sometimes the religious aspect even contributes to gender-based violence – the way we interpret certain biblical texts, the way we implement them, the way we teach these texts, ” said Rev. Dr Rima Nasrallah in the opening speech of the workshop. She is a teacher of NEST, an EMS study programme partner, and she has been the spokesperson for the international EMS Women‘s Network since 2018.
The workshop initiated by Rev. Nasrallah took place from 9 to 11 February and aimed to reflect biblically and theologically on the topic of gender-based violence and provide the participants with practical knowledge and skills to face it. NEST professors presented sessions from their respective fields of study where biblical texts and theological concepts contributing to gender-based violence were revised or challenged. A specialized psychologist and theatre professor used creative and interactive methods to reflect on Gender, Gender Roles and Behaviours and Violence.
25 persons took part in the workshop. They were active laypeople in church ministry – particularly with women, children, and youth or involved in religious education in church-affiliated schools and institutions. Participants of diverse backgrounds and ages p enriched the discussion.
The group also took a field trip to a local gender-based violence specialized NGO where new horizons where opened and connections made. “It’s time for a community of faith to stand up for and with people who are facing violence,” says Hala Bitar, one of the participants. On an additional panel various NGOs working in the societal, psychological and activist domain also presented their work.
“We hope that this workshop will be followed by other similar ones in the region and we hope to further the work that was achieved with this one,” explains Rev. Nasrallah.