On Saturday, November 1, 2003, American Middle East Christians Congress held its convention, followed by an annual gala banquet and awards ceremony that was held at the Macedonian Cultural Center, Sterling Heights, MI.
State of the American Middle East Christian Communities in Michigan
This is an introduction to the American Middle East Christians Congress, a community organization: who, why, where and when this Congress was created. The American Middle East Christian communities are the descendants of the great past civilizations, such as the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians and others.
Since the nineteenth century, they have started immigrating to the United States. Michigan has the largest congregation of Middle East descendants [about half a million,] while there are about 6 to 7 million across the United States. They immigrated for many reasons, including political, religious, social and economic discrimination and persecution that was carried by some of the Middle East countries, both at the state and local levels.
There was a movement of Arabinization that was encouraged by the Arab World governments, and this was extended to the United States Middle East communities and was supported by some American Middle East organizations. When these organizations declared the number of the Middle East communities here, they lumped us together as one community and this is not true. They even used these numbers to enrich and enhance their organizations politically, financially and socially.
They are continuously using the phrases “Arab Americans” or “Largest Arab Americans in Michigan” even though the majority of Middle East communities here are non-Arabs. The Middle East Christian communities include the Arabs, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Armenians, Coptics, Maronites, Syriacs and others. As the Middle East Christian communities have started asserting their presence in the United States, especially after September 11, those said organizations, such as the Arab American Institute, ADC, Arab American Chamber of Commerce and others, have started acknowledging the American Middle East Communities, their identity and their number.
The American Middle East Christian communities with all their diversity constitute the majority both in Michigan and the United States of America. These are facts that are supported by the US census, economic magazine and others.
This Congress is an extension of the Arab American and Chaldean Forum that was established in 1991. Subsequently after the September 11th tragedy, other Middle East Christian communities have joined this forum, and so this was renamed the American Middle East Christian Communities Congress to accommodate various other Middle East Christian communities’ vision and mission.
This Congress’ mission is [first] to bring together the various American Middle East Christian communities together in the fields of governmental affairs, civic and civil affairs, social, humanity, and public affairs. [Second] To build a dialogue with other Middle East and NON-Middle East communities, including the Muslims, Jews and other communities. To achieve this goal, a series of town hall meetings with all thirty-nine Middle East heritage organizations were held. In addition, various heritage meetings were held with leaders, such as his Holiness Pope Shanouda of the Coptic Church, Most Reverand Metropolitan Philip Primate of the Antochian Orthodox Church, Cardinal Moussa, representative of the Eastern Churches in Rome; Moderator of the Presbytarian Churches; Conference of the Catholic bishops, Bishop Samra of the Melkite Church; Bishop Yonan of the Syriac Church; and of course, Bishop Abraham of the Chaldean Church, who has been an advisor and counselor to the Congress.
On the community levels, this Congress has joined the Inter-Faith Partners, Congress of the Arab American organizations; BRIDGES, which was sponsored by the Honorable Jeff Collins; and had a discussion with the Jewish American Council, other Jewish organizations and their leaders.
Our Congress has hosted the first inter-heritage and inter-culture of the Iraqi American communities and is working to host for the first time a national and international conference for inter-heritage, inter-culture, peace and harmony.
Fr. Mina Essak and Fr. Maximus Habib of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church invited civic and community leaders to a reception that was held in honor of the visit of his Holiness Pope Shenouda III to Detroit on the afternoon of Thursday, August 21, 2003, Dr. Ramsay Dass presented to his Holiness the American Middle East Christian Communities heritage book and informed His Holiness about the Congress and its activities, His Holiness was very gracious with his comments and advice.
Dear Friends, Patrons, and Supporters of AMECC,
The AMECC Board of Directors would like to thank you for your support and update you with some of the events and programs that we have attended in order to promote AMECC’s vision and mission.
We believe that we have succeeded in informing the American communities-at-large as well as the established Middle East and Arab world organizations in the United States about the viability of the American Middle East Christian communities in the United States and especially Michigan.
In addition to utilizing the radio, TV, newspapers and town hall meetings, we have attended various official and unofficial meetings at the federal, state, county and city levels to inform and discuss various issues that are related to the American Middle East Christians, such as their ethnicity, heritage, civic and civil rights, governmental, economical and aspirations in the United States.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, and members of the AMECC Board of Directors met with Mr. James Zogby, President of Arab American Institute; Rev. Fahed Abu Akel, Moderator, Presbyterian Church in America, to discuss issues related to AMECC and the Presbyterian Church Community; and Mr. Ahmad Chebbani, Chairman of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, addressed the Michigan Interfaith Partners at Temple Share Zedak in Southfield regarding AMECC and developed a dialogue between the Abrahamite descendents of faith including the Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, and members of the Board of Directors attended St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Livonia meeting on March 12, 2003 sponsored by Rev. Father George Shalhoub and was attended by Christian community organizations and religious leaders with members of the United States Homeland Security to discuss issues related to the American Middle East Christian Community.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, and AMECC Board members attended CFA Chaldean Community Leadership Coalition Meeting regarding War in Iraq and Homeland Security issues with the United States Homeland Security representatives, U.S. Attorney General, FBI, Immigration Officers, and State, County, and City police and security department heads.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, and AMECC Board members attended President Bush’s visit to Dearborn, MI related to renewal of Iraq and other issues.
AMECC sponsored an Iraqi American heritage town hall meeting that was hosted by Most Rev. Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, bishop of St. Thomas Apostle Chaldean Diocese, regarding the renewal of Iraq and to continue an interfaith and interheritage dialogue with other sections of Iraq, including the Muslims and Mandiane communities. It was attended by priests, Imams, and community leaders.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, met with U.S. Congressman Hon. Joe Knollenberg at 5:30 p.m. to discuss issues related to AMECC.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, met with Paul Welday, Chairman of Oakland Republican Party at 8:00 a.m. to discuss issues related to AMECC.
Mr. Carl Dallo, on behalf of AMECC, met U.S. Congresswoman Hon. Candice Miller to discuss issues related to AMECC.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, addressed Madonna University Council of International Studies to discuss issues related to AMECC and the Middle East Christian Communities.
Ramsay Dass, M.D., President, and AMECC members attended U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Michigan, U.S. Department of Justice community meeting and became members of BRIDGES, which means “Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity.”
AMECC will hold its annual convention on the first of November 2003 at the Macedonian Cultural Center, 43133 Ryan Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48314 at 7:00 PM. The theme of this year’s Gala is “Harmony and Peace in the Middle East.” We are hoping that you will sponsor and attend this event.
We would like you to inform your parishioners, family members, friends, and neighbors to become a member of this organization, we welcome your opinions, comments and advice.
Ramsay Dass, M.D.
On September 18, 2002, Fr. George H. Shalloub hosted a special afternoon reception honoring Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League.
The event took place at St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church and Cultural Center, where members of different faith and community leaders were present, Dr. Ramsay Dass, President of AMECCC presented to Mr. Amre Moussa the American Middle East heritage book and had a frank discussion with him issues related to the American Middle East Christian communities in American and in the Arab world, Mr. Moussa was gracious and candid in his remarks.