Top leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have sent a letter to the denomination’s partner church in Egypt expressing their “anguish” over the New Year’s Day terrorist bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria.

The bombing killed 21 worshipers, injured scores of others and led to numerous demonstrations demanding and end to targeted violence against Christians in Egypt and elsewhere.

In their letter, General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director Linda Valentine deplored “this senseless act of hatred and terror” and assured the Synod of the Nile of the Evangelical Church of Egypt "of our prayers … and support and solidarity."

The full text of the Jan. 5 letter to the Rev. Helmy Kades and the Rev. Refat Fathy, moderator and secretary of the Synod of the Nile, respectively:

We received with great pain the news of the New Year's Day bomb attack on Al-Qidiss in Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria. We deplore this senseless act of hatred and terror, and lament that it was carried out within days of the first anniversary of the killing of six Coptic Christians in Nag  Hammadi at last year's Christmas Eve Mass:

Dear friends, we want you to know that we are anguished by the death, injury and destruction caused by this attack. As your partners in ministry for almost two centuries, we want to assure you of our prayers and affirm our support and solidarity in this troubled time during which the varied ministries of the Synod of the Nile continue to provide true and tangible Christian witness in Egypt.

We also pray that you will not be intimidated by such acts of violence but remain steadfast in proclaiming the Good News of the love of God in Jesus Christ, and persevere in interfaith dialogue as you promote mutual understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

While we hope that the government of Egypt will take effective measures to protect all churches and suppress anti-Christian violence in your beloved country, our hope is not in earthly establishments, but in the Lord. May you and your flock find comfort in the words of our Lord, “Peace I leave 'with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (John 14:27).

As you celebrate the birth of our Lord  on January 7, we wish you the peace of Christ which passes all understanding.