Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, is asking worshippers across Europe and around the world on Sunday, Jan. 9 to pray for “all those Coptic Christians who have lost their lives in 2010.”
His appeal, reported on a blog maintained by Bishop David Hamid, suffragan bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, comes after a bombing on New Year’s Day killed 22 Coptic Christians and wounded more than 80 leaving Mass at Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt.
In the days following the blast, Egyptian authorities increased security at churches as the Coptic Christmas (Jan. 7) approached.
The bombing caused “the traumatization of a whole community and the transformation of joy and hope to suffering and despair,” wrote Bishop Angaelos.
At 12:00 Noon GMT (7:00 a.m. Eastern) on Jan. 9, Coptic churches across Europe are to hold a general funeral service that will be a “peaceful and spiritual remembrance of painful and heinous targeted acts of violence against innocent worshippers,” he said.
In the United Kingdom, the main service will be conducted in the Cathedral of Saint George at the Coptic Orthodox Church Center in Stevenage, about 30 miles northwest of London.
A number of denominations said they would hold Coptic Christians in prayer on Jan. 9, including the Evangelical Alliance of Great Britain. The World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 349 churches, earlier sent a condolence letter to Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt.
Bishop Hamid wrote on his blog in a message to Bishop Angaelos: “Please be assured of the prayers of your brothers and sisters of this Church of England diocese this coming Sunday …. We pray for those who have died in this tragedy, for the many wounded, and for the families and friends of all who are affected. We pray for God to bring comfort and steadfastness of faith as Christians in Egypt face the aftermath of yet another violent assault.
“We also pray for the President of Egypt and all in authority to take immediate action to protect people from such attacks, but especially the minority Christian community whose right to worship and continue to live the faith must be guaranteed.”