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PC(USA) partners in Egypt call for peace in wake of violence

Several Christian churches, bookstores have been destroyed

August 22, 2013

Christians in Minia, Egypt, worship in a burnt church Aug. 18.

Christians in Minia, Egypt, worship in a burnt church Aug. 18. —courtesy of World Mission

LOUISVILLE

As news of violence and turmoil — including the destruction of Christian church buildings — continues to come from Egypt, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its partners call for peace and faith in God.

“We as Christians reject violence of all its forms, and regret the suffering experienced by all Egyptians in these events. Along with all Egyptians, we have lost the sense of security, but we never doubt the presence of God with us,” said the Rev. Refat Fathy, Secretary-General, Evangelical Presbyterian Church – Egypt, Synod of the Nile, in a statement.

In the statement, Fathy outlines several points, including full trust in God, the power of prayer and the church’s belief in nonviolence, reconciliation and dialogue.

“The Church is not buildings and bricks; but it is the people of God who must testify about God with energy and clarity. Though some church facilities have been destroyed, still these congregations remain alive and vibrant, fulfilling their purpose to the fullest,” Fathy’s statement reads.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt has also released a statement in which it condemns the attacks.

“The attacks on our government entities and peaceful churches are terrorizing our citizens both Coptic and Muslim. These actions stand against all religions, morality, and humanity,” reads a statement from the office of Pope Tawadros II.

The statement continues:

“Our sincere condolences are extended to all the victims and martyrs of duty that gave their lives, and we pray for the recovery of all those injured and afflicted. We persevere in our strong national unity and repulse any attempts to polarize our great nation into a secular conflict. We absolutely reject even partial foreign interference in our internal affairs. As the hand of evil extends to burn, kill and destroy; the Hands of God are nearer to protect, strengthen, and build.  We have full faith and confidence in the Divine intervention that will navigate the Egyptian people in this delicate time of our history to a better tomorrow and a brighter future filled with justice, peace, and democracy that the people of the Nile Valley so rightly deserve.”

Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), is also praying for peace.

“It is my hope and prayer for Egypt that the violence stops, that houses of worship are respected and that democratic elections can happen soon,” he said.

The Bible Society of Egypt — considered the Bible publisher for all the churches (Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic) in Egypt — is also reporting that at least two of its bookshops have been burned and destroyed. The shops were in Assiut and Minia, the largest cities in southern Egypt.

In an email newsletter, Ramez Atallah, general director of the Bible Society of Egypt, asks readers to pray that members of the Muslim Brotherhood be re-integrated into Egyptian society and for protection and a spirit of forgiveness and love.

The Bible Society of Egypt has been in operation for 129 years and this is the first time we have been the victims of such attacks.  We thank God for His protection, praise Him that none of our staff were injured, and are determined — as soon as things settle down — to rapidly restore these two bookshops to continue providing God’s Word in those two strategic cities,” Atallah states in the letter.

Patriarchs and the heads of local churches in Jerusalem also released a statement condemning the acts of violence and vandalism.

“The desecration and burning of churches is an unprecedented scandal and goes against the values of tolerance, lived in Egypt for centuries. We appreciate the fact that many Muslim compatriots have stood by the side of Christians in defending churches and institutions,” the statement reads.

The PC(USA) has co-workers serving in Egypt. World Mission released this statement Aug. 16:

“All PC(USA) co-workers serving in Egypt, along with family members who live with them, are safe. The Presbyterian World Mission staff is monitoring the situation in Egypt and is in regular communication with our co-workers and our Egyptian partners. We are very grateful to our Egyptian partners for helping to lookout for the safety of our co-workers. The PC(USA) has deep relationships in Egypt that have developed over more than 150 years of ministry in that country. Please pray for our co-workers and their families, our Egyptian partners, and all the people of Egypt.”

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