Please pray for us and for Egypt

http://www.anglicannews.org/blogs/2017/04/please-pray-for-us-and-for-egypt.aspx

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

The first Media production course

I was so encouraged to meet our youth from different parishes attending this workshop which equip them to use media and make films for the ministries of their parishes.   (Bishop Mouneer Anis)

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Latest Website Update!

Dear Partners and Friends of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt,
We previously informed you that: “the domain of the current website of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt will change from www.dioceseofegypt.org to www.anglicandioceseofegypt.org on Saturday the 25th of March, 2017 at 6 p.m. And the old domain will STOP working on Friday the 24th of March, 2017 at 12 p.m.”
Based on the preference of many friends who mentioned their sentimental attachment to the old domain which reminds them of the history of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, our brilliant I.T. team were able to restore the old domain back. So, the old domain (www.dioceseofegypt.org) REMAINS working rather than the intended new domain.
Thank you for your interest in our website!

Dr. Lindsay Brown and Canon Michael Green At All Saints Cathedral On Sunday 26th of March.

All Saints’ Cathedral (Egyptian, Sudanese and English-speaking Congregations) is hosting a service of celebration with international leader and speaker, Dr Lindsay Brown, who will give us a round the world survey of the encouragements and challenges facing the global church speaking from Habakkuk 2.14 and Revelation 7.9.

Dr Brown was converted to Christ as a teenager and studied European history in Oxford for 3 years, where he was President of the Christian Union. He has been involved in student ministry with IFES since 1981 and is International Director of the Lausanne Movement and is passionate about raising up a new generation of students to lead the Church into the future and works with student leaders from across Europe.

Edward Michael Bankes Green  is a British Oxford theologian, Anglican Priest, Christian apologist and author of more than 50 books.

Green has served in many different ministry roles as a gifted evangelist and teacher. Whether in local churches or theological schools, he has been a passionate advocate for ‘every member ministry.’ Dr Green has lectured and preached worldwide and has authored many books on a variety of subjects. Some of his most well-known works are on evangelism in the Book of Acts, one of which has been translated into Arabic– Thirty Years That Changed the World-The Book of Acts For Today.

Green is married to Rosemary and they have four adult children, Sarah, Jenny, Tim and Jonathan. Canon Michael will be giving some remarks before Dr Lindsay Brown speaks as both men are burdened with the equipping Christian leaders for ministry and have often served together in many international settings.

At 7 pm, the service will be in both Arabic and English. All are welcome! All Saints’ Cathedral is the ‘mother church’ of the Anglican / Episcopal Diocese of Egypt led by Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis. At 10 am, the service will be held in English with mainly Canon Michael Green

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 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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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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Chris Wright and the Bible of Reformation

Visiting Egypt for the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation, Chris Wright aptly taught on Biblical preaching. And in his public lecture to nearly 300 people on January 26, he focused on the centrality of the Bible for all reformation.

Ecclesia semper reformanda,” Wright said. “The church must be continually under reformation, renewed by the Bible.”

Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis of Egypt invited Wright to All Saint’s Cathedral in Cairo to train Anglican clergy how to minister the Word of God in their churches. In a series of four presentations he emphasized godly preaching must be both Biblically faithful and culturally relevant.

Wright is the international ministries director of the Langham Partnership, dedicated to educating pastors toward theological maturity. The ministry began under John Stott, rector of All Souls Church at Langham Place. Wright has a PhD in Old Testament ethics from Cambridge University, and encouraged the clergy not to neglect this great treasure.

“The Old Testament was the Bible of Jesus,” he said. “And if we neglect it we deprive our congregations of a great deal of depth about who Jesus is.”

Wright is the author of more than 15 books, and his Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament is one of ten that have been translated into Arabic.

And in his translated public lecture, he expounded on how Ezra and Nehemiah set a reformation pattern later followed by Luther, Calvin, and other Protestant pioneers.

Expounding on Nehemiah 8-10, Wright outlined four essential movements. The first focuses on the ears, as the Word of God is read and listened to. As Ezra and Nehemiah brought together the whole people, so did Luther make the Bible accessible for the masses. And not just the masses, but political and spiritual leaders also come under its authority.

The second movement focuses on the mind, as the Word of God is translated and taught. As Ezra and Nehemiah helped now-Aramaic speaking Jews understand the original Hebrew, so also Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into the German vernacular. Both also ensured that those they instructed were equipped to teach others.

The third movement focuses on the heart, as the Word of God produces weeping and rejoicing. Ezra and Nehemiah led the people into an understanding first of their sinfulness before God, but also in realization he is their gracious redeemer. Similarly did Luther guide Germans in knowledge of judgment and grace, and provided also a wealth of hymns and liturgy for communal response in praise.

The fourth movement focuses on the hands, as the Word of God prompts finding and doing. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Luther were purposeful students of the scripture, engaging it far beyond the duty of ritual. And as Luther would rediscover that though salvation is through faith alone, he and the Old Testament reformers insisted it is a faith that never stays alone. True faith produces the fruit of transformation as God’s commands are put into practice.

These movements are an essential part of Biblical preaching, as Wright made clear in his seminar lectures as well. In addition to the Anglican Alexandria School of Theology, Bishop Mouneer Anis invited also the Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical seminaries to participate. Though expecting around 60 people, 135 attended, including the Archbishop of Sudan and three additional Sudanese bishops.

To all he gave the same message, as relevant in Europe 500 years ago as it is today.

“As heirs of the Reformation,” said Wright, “we must search the scriptures together and respond with all sincerity and joy.”

February Prayer Letter from Gambella, Ethiopia

[A prayer letter from Johann and Louise Vanderbijl out of Gambella, Ethiopia]

February 2016

I was trying to explain the difference between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ to my English students the other day. “Simple,” I said, “is something that is easy to explain and easy to understand because there is usually only one thing to think about. Complex, on the other hand, is something that takes a long time to explain because there are so many different things to keep in your head at the same time…things that are often strange or unknown to the person you are trying to talk to which makes it harder for them to understand.”

Life in Gambella is not simple.

We returned in January filled with new and exciting ideas about what we were going to do with our students only to have our very first week turned upside down by deadly ethnic clashes.  Nothing has been the same ever since. We now teach two sets of classes in two different areas of Gambela, as neither ethnic group can meet with the other at present. Our Anglican brethren on both sides long for fellowship with each other and will often pray for each other, ask about each other, and send greetings to each other through us. They have responded negatively to other denominations in town that are calling for total segregation.

It is both painful and pleasing to see this…pleasing in that they have transcended traditional tribal barriers and painful in that they are being forced to stay apart because some on both sides do not share that unique oneness in Jesus. It is refreshing to see that our brethren here are not slow to see the spiritual forces of darkness behind the killing and the hatred – not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers in the heavenly places – and so they turn as one united body together against a common spiritual enemy and fight their battles on their knees, fasting and praying for peace.

At the same time, city water has been very scarce and the power has been sporadic. Some of our brethren in outer lying areas do not have food as all the roads were closed during the unrest. And it is hot…very hot. Temperatures are now often between 45 and 55 degrees Celsius with an increasing humidity, even at night. Our students tell us they can’t sleep…we know, because we can’t either. When the power goes off and we don’t have fans going, it feels like we are living in an oven.

Add now this: my dear old heart that just doesn’t seem to be able to handle this extreme environment anymore. I had a really bad episode of Atrial Fibrillation in Addis in December last year just before we went to South Africa. While in South Africa I heard that I ought to have a heart ablation, a procedure in which the surgeon cauterizes the areas where the impulses enter the atrium and cause the heart to beat very fast and irregularly. I had hoped to put this off until July, but the other morning I woke up with A-Fib in spite of the high doses of meds that I am on to prevent this from happening. See? This is so long and difficult to explain! It is complex – not the sort of thing I would have planned for us at this time.

The long and the short of it all is that we are closing the College a week early to go to South Africa so that my ticker can get a service…of course the pacemaker and other problems complicate things, but it just wouldn’t be my life if it was simple, would it?

We are thinking about changing the dates of our current semesters so that the College will be functional only during the less extremely hot seasons…the rest of the time…well, we will have to figure that out as we go along. We remain committed to the Lord’s work and the people here in Gambela…we just have to figure out creative ways to keep me healthy!

We have been moving at quite a pace with our dear students as we have had to cram our lessons into shorter hours because we are now dividing everything into two. We have also had to make up for the lost week in the past two days and have given them projects and assignments to do for next week. After that, they all go to their respective field education areas where they will be engaging in a research project as well as teaching Bible Stories chronologically. They are all so very, very smart and we are very, very proud of each one. So many strikes against them from the start and so many strikes against them as they simply try to live here, but they are troupers and keep on keeping on for Jesus!

We will send out an update once I have had the procedure done.

We love you all and are so blessed to have you as partners…we are not alone…the Father is with us, and you all are with us too. We are encouraged.

Many blessings and tons of love.

Johann and Louise

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