Primacy election in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

The Synod of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East met in Amman, Jordan on 16-17 May 2017.  Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, the outgoing Primate, invited The Right Revd Tim Dakin, the Bishop of Winchester, to open the Synod with prayer and reflection.  He led a Bible study on the subject of servant apostles using Ephesians 3, in preparation for the election of a new Primate.

The Synod, after prayerful discernment, reached a unanimous decision to elect Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem as the next Primate of the Province from 17 May 2017 for a period of two and a half years ending on 16 November 2019, to be followed by Bishop Michael Lewis of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf as the Primate of the Province from 17 November 2019 for a period of two and a half years ending on 16 May 2022.

We congratulate both Archbishop Suheil and Bishop Michael on their appointments, and we give thanks for Archbishop Mouneer’s service as our Primate since 2007.  We also give thanks to Bishop Tim Dakin for his gracious contribution.

The Synod appointed The Revd Dr Albert Walters as the Vicar General for the Diocese of Iran for a six month period.

The Synod also elected Mrs Georgia Katsantonis as the Provincial Secretary and Mr Ehab Edward as the Provincial Treasurer.

Please uphold the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East in your prayers.

Please pray for us and for Egypt

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Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your messages of condolences and your prayers.

Palm Sunday this year was a sad one. As I was going to celebrate Palm Sunday at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo, I heard the news of the explosions at Mar Girgis [St George’s] Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta, in the middle of the Nile Delta area. During the Service, I heard of another explosion at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. The outcome of these terrorist attacks is that 45 were killed and 129 injured, some of whom were Muslim policemen and guards. Sadness overshadowed all Palm Sunday celebrations all over Egypt.

Intensive security measures and regulations have been made since this last Saturday. This included security personnel emptying all the streets around the churches and cathedrals of cars with extra policemen and sniffer dogs checking all church buildings and worshippers before Services start. I believe these measures were done to safeguard all church buildings in the country. Although the security was very tight, the evildoers have their own ways and it is extremely difficult to achieve 100 per cent security. This was also the case behind the recent terrorist attacks in Sweden, Britain, Germany and France.

Both terrorist attacks were done by suicide bombers. In Tanta, the suicide bomber succeeded to enter the Church, while in Alexandria, the metal detector gates beeped as the bomber was going through and to avoid being arrested, he detonated the bomb.

As I am writing these words, the burial of the Coptic Orthodox martyrs from the Church in Alexandria are being held at Mar Mina Monastery in a mass grave.

Last evening, President Sisi conveyed his condolences and expressed his strong determination to fight and defeat terrorists. He also announced about the formation of a national council for fighting terrorism that will have all the authority to take firm action. In addition, he applied a 3-month emergency law. These terrorist attacks on Churches are not the first. More than 60 Churches were burnt in August 2013 as a reaction to the ouster of the former Muslim Brotherhood President. They aim to destabilize the country.

In view of these terrorist attacks, we expect that tourist numbers to Egypt will drop considerably although Egypt is still considered a much safer destination than other countries in the region.

Thank you again for your condolences. Please pray for us and for Egypt.

May the Lord bless you!

+Mouneer
Anglican Bishop in Egypt

Archbishop Mouneer Anis and the new Area Bishop Samy Fawzy in a Pastoral visit to North Africa

Bishop Anis and Bishop Fawzy are currently visiting North Africa, Tunisia and Algeria, for a pastoral visit. The aim of the visit is to introduce the new Area Bishop for North Africa to our churches in  North Africa as well as ecumenical partners. One of the responsibilities of the area bishop is to be able to engage with the authorities; this visit allowed formal introduction between the two parties for fruitful future communications.

It was great Revd. Vincent Jacob Rajan from Libya was able to travel to meet the bishops in Tunisia. The three enjoyed time of fellowship and were able to discuss ministry in Tripoli.

“The ministry is flourishing. Praise God!” said Bishop Mouneer, referring to the ministry in North Africa.

The trip didn’t involve the leaders only, but also the regular congregations. Bishop Fawzy received warm welcome through the wonderful celebrations organized by the parishes of North Africa.

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Speech of Archbishop Mouneer Anis At the “Consecration of Bishop Samy Fawzy” 27th February, 2017

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Today we are gathered to consecrate the Very Rev Dr Samy Fawzy as a new bishop for North Africa within the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa. He succeeds Bishop Bill Musk, who retired last year.I am grateful to have this opportunity to give my thanks and appreciation to Bishop Bill for all of his hard work and sacrifice through his years of service in North Africa.

The word consecration means to devote a person for service of the Lord. Today we consecrate Samy to be a bishop and shepherd for the ministers of the Church of North Africa, and at the same time, a bishop in the universal Church of God. Today, Bishop-elect Samy will pray these words, “I am not for myself but for You, O Lord” because he will be consecrated for the Lord’s service.

Some people might ask, “Why did I choose Dean Samy to be a Bishop?”

In response, I’d like to make clear that for many years, it has been put on my heart to prepare leaders and shepherds from the new generation of believers to carry the responsibility of leadership in the Church.

Truly the Church needs trustworthy shepherds who love the Lord with all their hearts and who will exert every effort to guide the people of God through spiritual teaching and encouragement to live out the message of Christ… the message of love. I have seen this in Dean Samy. Heloves the Lord and is humble. His desire to serve the Lord was evident when he put aside his career as an engineer after graduating from the School of Engineering, Cairo University in 1985. He was led to study at the School of Theology at the University of Wales and Birmingham in the United Kingdom, continuing until he completed his Doctorate Degree in Theology. He returned to Egypt to serve in the church of Alexandria. He is distinguished in his pastoral care for his congregation, including for the wounded, the oppressed and marginalized. He grew the church in Alexandria. This has encouraged me to choose him as Dean ofSt. Mark’sCathedral in Alexandria and Dean of the Anglican/Episcopal School of Theology. Samy has used all of his gifts and talents in the service of Christ and His Church. He has done so with joy and without hesitation. He became my real partner in vision and service. Jesus Christ taught us that those who invest their gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God will be given even greater responsibility. For this reason, we have chosen Dean Samy to be Bishop for North Africa, making him the first Egyptian Bishop in North Africa.

Few days ago, I have prayed that God would give me a message for Bishop Samy today, as well as for myself and for all ministers of the Church. The Spirit has guided me to focus my meditation todayon Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, because the main ministry of the bishop is shepherding.

If we desire to be trustworthy shepherds of God’s people, we must fix our eyes upon the Good Shepherd, who has been our model in His life and His care, in order to fulfill our responsibility towards the Church, of Christ.

Jesus Christ has given us a clear description of the Good Shepherd, which we read in the Gospel of John:

Firstly, the Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know His voice.Jesus said, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3, NIV). This is made possible only after the Shepherd has spent a long time with those in his care, guiding them to green pastures and to sources of water, giving them medicine when they fall sick, and carrying them on his shoulders when they grow tired. It is true that we can’t shepherd well the Flock of God unless we spend good time in their midst.

There’s no doubt that we, as Bishops, receive many invitations from around the world to visit other churches and dioceses. These attractive offers to travel abroad and visit new churches and new places can be tempting. It can be hard to turn these offers down, but travel separates us from those in our care and prevents us from being able to provide for their needs. Thiscan weaken the church and lead to deeper problems. When the Shepherd is not present, those in his care scatter, as is written “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”(Matthew 26:31, NIV). This happened in a neighboring country, wherethe church was facingtribal conflict. The Diocesan Bishop happened to be traveling during this situation, and his absence during the conflict resulted in thescattering of his congregations and the loss of his diocesan office.

It is our first responsibility as servants of the Lord is to be among the flock.

Secondly, the Good Shepherd leads his flock.Jesus said when describing the good shepherd, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”(John 10:4, NIV)Bywalking in front of His sheep, the shepherd does three things:

  • One,he determines the vision and the goals that work for the flock. He knows the way to proceed ahead of those in His care.The Shepherd mustask for the vision and wisdom from God as promised in Psalm 32:8 (NIV), “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
  • Two;by walking in front of the flock, the shepherd sets an example for all who follow him. St. Paul said to his disciple Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV). We need to be a role model and example, hence we are in need of the rich grace of God to help us because of our weakness as humans and supports us when we fail to live up to this model.
  • Three;by going in front of the flock, the shepherd protects the sheep from danger. He faces the difficulties before his flock.

Thirdly, the Good Shepherd sacrifices himself for the sheep.

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” (John 10:11-12, NIV). The Shepherd must always remember what Jesus has done to save us from death which is the wage of our sin. He sacrificed himself upon the cross to be our ransom, and this puts on us the responsibility as Shepherds to give it our best effort to save sinners from eternal death. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 13, NIV)

The Good Shepherd protects his sheep from false teaching and promotes correct teaching, as was given to us by our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ the Lord, for example, when he rejected the teaching of the Pharisees and the false Jewish teachers.“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27, NIV).One of the examples which we know well here in Egypt is St. Athanasius;who stood firm against the Arian heresy which was supported by the emperor at that time. However, Athanasius stood against the heresy, to the point that he was called contra mundum.

In this day and age, we find that many leaders find it difficult to oppose false teaching, for truth has become relative, and it’s no longer appropriate to speak against false teaching, as it contradicts with the trends of inclusiveness, which welcomes any and all views, even those which go against the Bible.

That’s why we need to remember that the Bishop makes vows in front of God to guard the faith so he needs to fulfil this responsibility without any compromise or hesitation.

Fourthly, the Good Shepherd leads His flock towards an abundant life.

Jesus Christ said (John 10:10, NIV) “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.No doubt that the true shepherd is the one who leads his people towards the abundant life. We can find this life when we meet Jesus Christ and accept Him in our lives. He said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (John 14: 6, NIV). This means that the shepherd should lead his people to Christ and help them to become spiritually mature disciples and faithful in their life and ministry.

Fifthly, the Good Shepherd searches for His sheep.

Jesus said in the parable of the lost sheep “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NIV). The good shepherd should look for his lost sheep. Those who went astray in the worries of this world, when he found them, he should share the good news of Jesus Christ with them and give them the hope they had lost. We sometimes forget as we become busy in administration that we as shepherds have the responsibility to give a message of hope to the broken world around us. Hope helps us to persevere through all the difficulties we face and to look for the good.

St Clement of Alexandria wrote: “If you don’t have hope, you would not find what is beyond your hopes”. He also said “Christ transformed all our sunsets in our lives into dawns.” Our Middle Eastern people are in desperate need for, hope. This is why we should bring hope to them all the time.

My beloved Samy, I believe that today that you would receive special grace from the Lord. This grace will accompany you on your journey as a bishop. With this grace, you can shepherd the flock of Christ that is entrusted to you.

Finally, I would like to share with you one of the dear gifts that was given to me at the time of my consecration. I put this in front of my eyes every day. It is a quote from St Augustine of Hippo which was written for me by one of the nuns and the quote is: “For you I am a bishop but with you I am a Christian. The first is an office accepted, the second is a gift received. One is danger, the other is safety. If I am happier to be redeemed with you than to be placed over you, then I shall, as the Lord commanded, be more fully your servant.”

St Augustine sees here a potential danger linked to the office of a bishop if the people around us glorify the bishop to a degree that he becomes proud. We all need to keep the words of St Augustine in front of our eyes so that we do not forget that we, by the end of the day, are servants for the flock of Christ. I pray from my heart that;“The Lord bless youand keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”(Numbers 6:24-26, NIV)

 

Archbishop Mouneer Anis takes part in the “Freedom.. Citizenship.. Diversity.. Integration” Conference

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Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis received an invitation to attend a conference arranged by Al Azhar Al Sharif and the Council of the Muslims Elders. The theme of the conference was about “Freedom, Citizenship, Diversity and integration”. It was held in the 28th of February, till the 1st of March, 2017.

The conference dealt with four major issues:

  • Citizenship.
  • Freedom and diversity.
  • Experiences and challenges.
  • Participation and initiation.

The bishop’s speech was based on maintaining human rights, which is mentioned in all religions. He quoted two verses; one from the Holy bible and the other from the Quran.

The bishop raised important questions: “Who is responsible for the acknowledgment of citizenship rights? Is it on the clerics or politicians and activists?!” His Excellency believed that the religious leaders have the greater impact on achieving citizenship.

Bishop Anis emphasized that the cooperation between the clergy and the media is necessary to exploit the opportunities available for establishing “the right of citizenship”.

Archbishop Mouneer Consecrates First Arab Bishop for North Africa

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In a moving ceremony at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo on February 27, 2017, Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis consecrated his ‘dear brother’ Rev. Samy Fawzy as the first Arab area bishop for North Africa.

Bishop Fawzy succeeds Bishop Bill Musk, who presided over the diocese encompassing Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya since 2008. Bishop Musk was honored and thanked for his time of service, and participated in Fawzy’s consecration.

Joining also to lay hands on the new bishop was Bishop Grant LeMarquand of the Horn of Africa and Bishop Michael Lewis of Cyprus and the Gulf

Also present were Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Rennis Ponniah of Singapore, and other Anglican representatives from around the world.

Bishop Lewis conveyed the congratulations of Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, welcoming Bishop Fawzy into the fellowship of Anglican servant leadership.

Archbishop Welby also praised the Diocese of Egypt for its role as a bridge between Muslims and Christians as well as among the various Christian denominations.

He also issued a firm plea to the government of Egypt to continue recognizing the Anglican Church as an independent denomination, in light of ongoing legal disputes that jeopardize this status.

Archbishop Beach also welcomed Bishop Fawzy, greeting him in the name of GAFCON, and celebrating their partnership in the gospel while assuring of his continued prayers.

Archbishop Ponniah encouraged Bishop Fawzy that in the ‘boat’ of Christian service, it is the Lord Jesus who brings it safely to shore. He also welcomed him into the Global South effort that is catching many fish for the Kingdom of God, celebrating the recent accomplishments in Egypt of a new conference center and administrative buildings for the Alexandria School of Theology.

Congratulations were also offered by Fr. Bishoy Helmy, representing Pope Tawadros of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Rev. Rifat Fehmy, representing Rev. Andrea Zaki of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, and Bishop Kyrillos William of Asyut, representing Patriarch Ibrahim Ishak of the Coptic Catholic Church.

Fr. Helmy in particular praised the appointment of Bishop Fawzy, recognizing him as one with humility, an ecumenical spirit, and dependence upon the Word of God.

Bishop Fawzy graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University in 1985, but set aside his career to pursue Christian ministry. Later he obtained a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Wales, and upon returning to Egypt was ordained to serve the church in Alexandria, where he was appointed dean in 2013.

Archbishop Anis remarked Bishop Fawzy was distinguished in his pastoral care, especially “among the wounded, oppressed, and marginalized. He shared a quote which was dear to him at his own consecration as bishop, written by St. Augustine of Hippo, also from North Africa.

“For you, I am a bishop. But with you, I am a Christian. The first is an office accepted; the second is a gift received. One is danger; the other is safety. If I am happier to be redeemed with you, than to be placed over you, then I shall as the Lord commanded, be more fully your servant.”

Archbishop Anis told Bishop Fawzy he reviews this quote each day, and encouraged him to do the same.

“Truly the church needs trustworthy shepherds who love the Lord with all their hearts, and who will exert every effort to guide the people of God to live out the message of Christ, the message of love,” said Archbishop Anis.

“I have seen this in Dean Samy.”

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Signing Project Protocol “Together we develop Egypt”

The Episcopal / Anglican church in Egypt has signed a protocol with “Misr El-Kheir” organisation, a project named “Together we develop Egypt” on Tuesday the 21st of February, 2017.

After the success of “Together for Egypt”- which reshaped the physics of Muslim Imams and Christian priests after understanding each other for almost 3 years, 2013 to 2015; the priests and Imams decided to take it a further step and hence “Together we develop Egypt” was born to light.

The main purpose from this project is to train and qualify young men and women, in addition to some Imams and Priests, the skill of accepting others and to communicate with the youth to be able to spread patriotism between Muslims and Christians. This was held in the Episcopal/ Anglican cathedral in Zamalek by the attendance of some of the Imams and priests who are participating in the initiative.

This initiative is seeking to train a 100 from the young men and women on how to accept others, and to communicate effectively through ten Imams and ten priests in some governorates mostly important in Menya, Port said , Suez, Sharkeia , Cairo and Giza.

According to the program, every Imam and Priest tends to pick ten youth from the surrounding, to obtain training in community development that will lead to propose some solutions to solve problems facing the local communities.

The coordinators of the project are expecting a good number of youth to be qualified to lead in this field by the end of the year, as well as, to create a way of participating with a good impact on the local community through an outreach to spread the culture of peace and tolerance.IMG_9395IMG_9421IMG_9436

The Opening of the “All Saints Garden Conference Center”

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The official opening of All Saint’s Garden Center was held last Friday the 24th of February by Archbishop Bishop Mouneer Hanna with the presence of special gathering of guests including donors, Archbishops, Bishops and several people from the Diocese.

The Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, Bishop of Singapore, Archbishop Kwan Kim, Chekphang, Ven Wong Tak and Keth Chua played an important role for the conference center to come to light.

Dr.Farid Fadel and his wife Dr. Mona Zaki offered a very special gift, made by Dr. Fadel himself, that left a unique imprint in the place. The gift included paintings that gave a beautiful and artistic look to the place.

Keth Chua Hall is named after one of the biggest donors as mentioned earlier. Mr. Chua is a famous person in Singapore that owns a series of centers carries the same name “Garden Center”.

The conference center holds 16 rooms that accommodate approximately 60 people. One of the rooms is a royal suit. The hall accommodates more than 100 people and it is provided with the latest equipment.

We thank the Lord for His gift to us and we pray that this place be used to glorify his name. We would love to invite you to come and visit our center.

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Lay Leadership Conference in February 2017

The different Anglican churches across the diocese sent their potential lay minsters to attend a special training. The conference aimed to increase the awareness of the Anglican Church and how to be involved in its ministry. The Anglican Church in Egypt has a vision of serving the whole society and witnessing to Christ. The attendees were able to grasp the vision in order to take role in this vision with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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All Saints hosted prayers for Unity on Monday February 13th, 2017

All Saints Cathedral hosted the assembly of churches during the week of prayer for unity of the churches, organised by Egypt Council Churches as well as the Council of Middle East Churches, on Monday the 13th of February, 2017. The Cathedral had the honor of receiving the different churches of the council; the Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic and the Evangelical Church. Each of the representatives took part in the liturgy led by Archbishop Mouneer Anis. The unity was most manifested during the sharing of all the churches in the One Bread of the Holy Communion as true reflection of being different members of the One Body, the Body of Christ.

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