In Defense of Christians (IDC), a US-based non-profit organization that advocates for the protection of Christians and others in the Middle East, concluded its historic inaugural Summit last week. The Summit’s theme was: “Protecting and Preserving Christianity, Where it All Began” and had 1,200 people attending from 24 states and 14 countries.

IDC President Toufic Baaklini stated: “The Summit was historic, significant, and a great success and our work is only beginning. The last time Eastern Christianity leaders and political leaders from the West gathered for a similar purpose was probably the 15th Century. From the ecumenical prayer service to the events on Capitol Hill to the final day of panel discussions, it far exceeded our most ambitious expectations. The attendees and all of the panel speakers came away more unified and strengthened in their resolve to protect Christians and others who are being systematically targeted for eradication by ISIL.”

Some of the highlights included having over 50 speakers representing a broad spectrum of Christian rites and other churches, 17 Democratic and Republican House and Senate members addressing Summit attendees on Capitol Hill, hosting five Patriarchs of Middle Eastern Christian Churches and representatives of other Patriarchates who attended and addressed the Summit, and later met with President Obama for 40 minutes at the White House along with his National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy, Ben Rhoades.

“Religious leaders, distinguished speakers, and over a thousand attendees championed the need for awareness, advocacy, and unity at a time when Middle Eastern Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities face widespread persecution,” said Baaklini.

Baaklini added: “We have already begun planning for next year’s Summit and we look forward to advancing our very important and timely work in the weeks and months ahead. Among the priorities: organizing local chapters, which will promote awareness locally, and nationally and reach out to elected officials, working with aid organizations, advocating for substantive and specific solutions, and having diaspora of disparate communities work together locally.”

IDC Executive Director Andrew Doran said: “We are delighted by the outcome. A great organization has been born to do important and timely work, which has already established credibility and influence, and has had an immediate positive impact. This event, conceived just five months ago, was described by one of the attendees as ‘a major logistical miracle’ and I agree.”

In Defense of Christians (IDC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to the preservation and protection of Christians in the Middle East.