[ACNS] Leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church and other major Christian denominations in Egypt gathered at All Saint’s Anglican Cathedral in the centre of Cairo this weekend for a united act of worship in which the leaders delivered short messages on rolling the stone together. The service, in which the leaders and congregation shared bread together, has been described as an example of “loving, passionate, and world-changing unity.”
In addition to Anglican and Coptic leaders, the worship service brought together leaders of the Armenian Catholic Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Coptic Evangelical Church, the Egyptian Council of Churches, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Middle East Council of Churches
“These many leaders prayed and sang together and gave short messages on the meaning of ‘rolling the stone together’, in reference to removing the stone from the tomb of Jesus,” the Diocese of Egypt said in a statement. “Some of these messages highlighted the many different stones that must be removed in life, others spoke to the stones that so often guard our hearts, and others still showed how these stones can be used to build bridges.
“By praying and worshiping, all to the same purpose, these diverse denominations were brought together in unity. At the height of the service, bread was broken amongst all the great leaders present.
“As the service concluded, this much-blessed bread was passed out to many of the congregants. The service was a powerful reminder that sometimes the strength of the Church can arise from even division itself when churches come together in loving, passionate, and world-changing unity.”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Egypt will continue with a variety of events throughout the next few days.
The anniversary of the murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya one year ago was marked at the General Synod of the Church of England yesterday. Members stood in silent remembrance and prayers were said for the martyrs, their families, and other Christians facing persecution.
“One profound result and gift of this horrific act is that it brought people together,” Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK, an ecumenical observer to the General Synod, said afterwards. “These men paid the ultimate price, but gave us a cause to advocate for all those persecuted; they also showed us that there was a level of evil that we must all stand in solidarity against, and a level of courage, faithfulness and defiance that we must all aspire to.”
The Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at a special service in the crypt chapel of the House of Commons yesterday morning. He said “Proclaiming the Christian Faith is very costly, and we remember a year ago when we heard the news of this terrible crime how shocking it was for the whole Church as it brought home the dangers that people are facing and the consequences of violence that is motivated by hatred of a particular religion.
“It was good to see that this service was attended by people from both Houses [of Parliament] and others because it sends a sign that this is of concern for the whole world and the whole Church. We have been told the stories of how these young men did not waver in their Faith, kept proclaiming Christ as they fell as martyrs, and that courage, that sheer strength of Faith in Christ, is an inspiration for all of us.”