[ACNS] A new Anglican congregation in Rabat has held its first confirmation service in what is believed to be the first such service in the Moroccan capital.
The north African country has had an unbroken Anglican presence for just over 100 years with churches in Casablanca and Tangier – although the first C of E church, in Tangier, has its origins in the time of Charles II.
Official statistics show that 99.9 per cent of the population are Muslim. Islam is the official religion of the country but the King of Morocco gives permission to four churches – Roman Catholic, Orthodox, French Protestant and Anglican – to minister to their own communities.
In April 2013, the Revd Canon Dr Medhat Sabry moved from Cairo to become the priest-in-charge of St John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca. Less than a year later, in January 2014, that church held its first confirmation service since 1996 when 19 Christians from the Philippines, the USA, Nigeria and Liberia confirmed their baptismal vows in front of the Suffragan Bishop of Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid.
A few months later, in April last year, Dr Sabry planted two new congregations – in Marrakech and Rabat – to cater for the many English-speaking foreign Christians living in those areas. And now, twelve months on, the Church in Rabat, named after the African saint, St Augustine of Hippo, has held its own confirmation service for three members of its growing congregation.
“There are a large number of foreign Christians [in Rabat] who seek to worship in the English language,” Bishop Hamid said. “The community is growing with members coming from the Philippines and several sub-Saharan African countries.”
The bishop described last month’s confirmation service as “a significant date for this new community”, adding: “I believe this may be the first Anglican confirmations ever held in Rabat.”
The new church of St Augustine of Hippo meets for a weekly Eucharist service in the chapel of a Roman Catholic school – the Filles du Cœur Immaculé de Marie.
The Revd Canon Dr Medhat Sabry was raised in an Anglican family and attended Jesus Light of the World church in Old Cairo since his childhood. He served the church as Sunday school teacher, youth leader, and – after ordination – as its priest.
He served on the diocese of Egypt’s Executive and Finance boards and taught a number of Old Testament courses at three theological seminaries including the Anglican theological seminary at the Alexandria School of Theology and Hope International University, Middle East branch; before accepting the call to lead the Anglican Church in Casablanca in April 2013.