Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport begins its sixth annual Lenten lecture series on Thursday, March 17, featuring a five-week forum on the Middle East.

The program, founded in 2006 by the Rev. Nicholas T. Porter, Trinity's rector, are open to the public. "This year's speakers and presentations move us beyond policy to the real, changing events on the ground: the revolution in Egypt, the plight of the Christian community in Iraq, the ascendency of the Shi'ite community in Baghdad and an exit strategy in Afghanistan," he said in a statement.

The free programs will take place on Thursdays in the Trinity parish hall, 651 Pequot Ave., beginning at 6 p.m. with soup, conversation and evening prayers. The lectures start at 6:45 p.m., followed by question-and-answer periods at 8 p.m.

Following is the schedule of forums:

March 17: "So You Say You Want A Revolution: Perspectives on the Egyptian Protests," presented by Yale Professor Stephen Davis, director of the university's Monastic Archaeology Project in Egypt, and Mary K. Farag, Yale doctoral candidate in Coptic studies.

March 24: "Challenges and Hope: The History, Present, and Future Of Christianity in Iraq," Liza Anderson, Yale University, Jacob K. Javits Foundation doctoral candidate, will share her experiences teaching at St. Peter's Seminary in Iraq.

March 31: "A Reversal of Fortune: The Shi'ite Muslims of Iraq," will feature the expertise of Magnus T. Bernhardsson, director of international studies at Williams College and author of the 2005 account, "Reclaiming a Plundered Past. Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq."

April 7: "Divided We Stand: Exploring the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Through the Lens of the award-winning documentary film, `Budras.' " The film about a Palestian community organizer brings together diverse voices to focus on the success of a nonviolent movement in the occupied Palestinian territories.

April 14: "Afghanistan: No Way Out?" Marin Strmecki, former foreign policy advisor to the U.S. Senate and President Richard Nixon, and a senior vice president and director of programs for the Smith Richardson Foundation, will examine the current state of the conflict.

Porter has lived, worked and studied throughout the Middle East and founded similar programs in Europe. Porter holds an MA in Middle East studies from Cairo, an MA in war studies from London, and an MA from the Divinity School at Yale.

For more information, check the church's website,, or call 203-255-0454.