Rays of hope in the Church in Egypt
There have been decades of distrust, disunity and tension between the different Churches in Egypt. The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest in the country, with Catholic and Protestant Churches representing the majority of other Christian Churches. Catholic and Protestant Churches have often felt disregarded by the Coptic Orthodox Church, while the Coptic Orthodox Church has felt that the others have little respect for them and often judge their practices without understanding.
Two recent events raise hope of change in relationships between the Churches. On Monday 18 February 2013, after approximately one year of meetings, five churches joined together to form the Egypt Council of Churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church (Presbyterian), the Greek Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church. The first goal of the Egypt Council of Churches is to enhance the bonds of love and the spirit of cooperation among the member churches. In addition to the “Council of the Heads of Churches” there is an “Executive Council” formed of equal representatives for each church. The “Executive Council” will supervise the work of the 15 different committees that will be active in the areas of faith and unity, youth, Sunday schools, community development and women, etc…
More recently, on the 12 March, the Catholic Church installed its new Patriarch. For the first time in the history of the Church in Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Pope Tawadros, attended the installation along with five of his Bishops. At a time when Egyptian Christians are extremely discouraged by the fundamentalist Muslim leadership of the nation and feel marginalised and threatened, it was wonderful for two of the key leaders of the Church in Egypt to express their solidarity for one another and share a common vision for effective witness and the co-existence of all in Egypt.
We join with the Church in Egypt in praying for unity, effective witness as they work together, encouragement and courage in shared life and ministry, and protection of this new work that God is doing.