Monday, 21 December 2020

A Christmas Message of Light and Hope


A Christmas Message of Light and Hope
December 2020

'Christmas is a time to remember the fulfilment of promise and realisation of hope in the birth of Jesus Christ. We remember that the Light shone into darkness and transformed it, and likewise, so many have shone as bright lights throughout this past year, as beacons of hope for those around the world who have lived various forms of darkness, ranging from bereavement and illness to persecution and displacement.

This Christmas, we stand together to commit ourselves once again to a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, and to continuing to do all we can to shine a light of hope, promise and kindness into a world that has such need of it.

As we stand together, we give thanks for those who continue to be our inspiration: both those who make our work possible through their tireless commitment, and even more importantly, those for whom we stand and whose resilience and courage continue to be a testimony to their own strength and faithfulness.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a safe, healthy and happy New Year'

The Lord Alton of Liverpool
Crossbench Peer
House of Lords

Archbishop Angaelos
Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London
Founder and Director
Refcemi, Coptic Advocacy

Henrietta Blyth
Open Doors UK & Ireland

Tim Dieppe
Head of Public Policy
Christian Concern

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi
Christian Aid

Neville Kyrke-Smith
National Director
Aid to the Church in Need UK

Tim Livesey
Embrace the Middle East

The Revd Dr Nadim Nassar
Executive Director
Awareness Foundation

Huda Nassar
Director for the Middle East
Awareness Foundation 

Lisa Pearce
Chief Development and Advocacy Officer
Open Doors International

Paul Robinson

Release International

Mark Sheard
World Vision

Mervyn Thomas CMG
Founder President

Gareth Wallace
Head of Policy & Communications
World Vision UK

Prof Paul S Williams
Bible Society

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Statement by His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, on Human Rights Day 2020


Coptic Orthodox Church UK
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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
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Statement by His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, 
Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London
on Human Rights Day 2020

10 December 2020

As we commemorate Human Rights Day this year while experiencing the devastation of a global pandemic, we are ever more conscious of the importance of human relations and interaction, and the value of every human being. While Covid-19 has indeed affected the whole world, it has increasingly come to light that when tragedies or challenges befall individuals and communities, those who are already vulnerable, marginalised, discriminated against, and/or oppressed, are impacted disproportionately to a much greater extent. Sadly, these same individuals and communities tend to be deprived of the provisions and safeguards ensured by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[1], a document adopted by the United Nations in 1948 affirming the inalienable equal rights of everyone, everywhere.

This year in Britain we have been placed in a position in which we can directly empathise with so many around the world whose ongoing reality encompasses the challenges of poverty, inequality, restrictions on public worship, financial instability, the inaccessibility of education, and so much more. We have become familiar, first-hand and for the first time in over a century, with child poverty and child food poverty, something no society should endure or tolerate. While we are becoming more aware of these vulnerabilities within pockets of our own societies, we must remember what it is to put ourselves in the place of those who are enduring these hardships on a daily basis as part of their daily reality, and feel their pain as we do all we can to alleviate it.

Human Rights Day is another reminder of the equal value we have before God, Who has provided us all with His image and likeness, indiscriminately and without exception. It is also a reminder that we are entrusted with the protection of human dignity and the value of human life that He has provided for each and every one of us. Where we see injustice in the application, or lack thereof, of those rights, we must voice concern, advocate for, and stand by, those whose rights are denied, remembering the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that “not to speak is to speak, and not to act is to act”. When we stand for one another’s rights, we stand for our own.

We have seen such wonderful acts of compassion, solidarity, and comradery during the pandemic here in Britain and around the world, sometimes from unexpected places. We have also seen and continue to witness selfless acts of bravery, courage and kindness from individuals and groups in a variety of sectors, and that is the spirit of a diverse humanity working in harmony. That is the spirit that the world needs, and is the spirit of Human Rights Day; to ensure kindness, respect and dignity for all, even those beyond the reach of our immediate environments.

Today and every day we pray for our world and for every one of its members, all of whom stand equal before God, and are equally deserving to be seen and catered for by humankind. We also pray for human rights defenders and advocates who are often in the most dangerous parts of the world, and continue to be the voice and hope of those for whom they courageously and selflessly stand.

The sentiments of equality are not merely philosophical, but must be translated into meaningful terms and realised action. This year has taught us that the vulnerability of any individual or nation adds to our own corporate vulnerability, and so in acknowledging and safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of others, we play our part in doing so for the whole world.


Monday, 16 November 2020

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London on the suffering of communities in Nagorno-Karabahk, Ethiopia and Eritrea


Coptic Orthodox Church UK
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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
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His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London on the suffering of communities in Nagorno-Karabahk, Ethiopia and Eritrea

16 November 2020

We are currently becoming more aware of the magnitude and scale of the incredible suffering endured by communities as a result of war and conflict in Nagorno-Karabahk, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The resulting loss of life and displacement of peoples has tragically soared, and we have witnessed increasing vulnerability amongst young and old already impacted by and struggling with the global Covid pandemic.

I have been in conversation, over these past weeks, with the clergy and leadership of the Armenian, Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches both here in Britain and globally to develop a clearer understanding of the situation on the ground in their home nations and to see how we can offer greater support at this time. In the interim, we continue to pray repose for the departed, comfort for the bereaved, healing for the injured and traumatised, safety for the displaced and peace for all involved, as we pray wisdom for all those in leadership and entrusted with the lives and well-being of their people.

We are taught in Scripture that “when one part of the Body suffers we all suffer” (1 Corinthians 12:26) and so, at this time we share in the suffering of members of our sister Armenian Apostolic, Ethiopian Tewahedo, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches and their communities, along with their wider communities that encompass Christians of all denominations, and people of all faiths and none.


Friday, 5 June 2020

Reflection from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos on the brutal murder of George Floyd

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
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Reflection from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos,
Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London on the brutal murder of George Floyd

5 June 2020

As the world struggles against the silent and invisible Covid-19 virus, the vile disease of racism rears its ugly head once again with the senseless and brutal murder of George Floyd. While we recognise the deadliness of a pandemic and are living that reality today, for far too long the threat and damage of prejudice and racism have often been ignored. The outcry against this brutal murder speaks not only to the loss of one man’s life in Minnesota, but is in response to a much greater and more prevalent undercurrent that many have been unwilling to admit or indeed speak up about.

In speaking over the past week to friends from some of Britain’s Afro-Caribbean communities, I have heard more about what it means to be targeted as a member of those communities and why this crime has opened so many wounds; some from the past and some ongoing. Those who are speaking out are at times demonised for jumping on a proverbial ‘bandwagon’, and those who are not, are seen as not caring or even adding to a far too rife and dangerous trend of silence in the face of injustice. The reality is however, that in cases of injustice, we must all do what we can to advocate. This advocacy here in the United Kingdom must be carried out with the knowledge and understanding of the complexity and diversity within Britain’s Afro-Caribbean communities, and there is no room for generalisations or stereotypes when discussing issues of race and colour.

In looking at the occurrences of the last week, and considering what we can practically do, I was led to reflect on this verse from the book of Micah 6:8 where we read “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
To “do justly” is to ensure that the same rights, privileges and responsibilities apply to every individual, irrespective of ethnicity, colour, gender, or any other distinguishing factor, just as the irrefutable and unnegotiable justice of God is extended to us all, no matter who we are. While these words are of course simple to say, it will take policy makers, religious leaders, community leaders, and indeed each and every one of us, to safeguard these core tenets of our humanity.

To “love mercy” is in direct contrast to the brutality we have witnessed in the murder of George Floyd. There is nothing merciful about seeing a young man, black or otherwise, lying on the ground with a knee on his neck pleading for his life, until he quite literally breathes his last, exclaiming “I can’t breathe”. A man who, in his vulnerability calls for his mother who has preceded him, was dehumanised, and humiliated. What makes this crime even more deplorable is that the perpetrators were those entrusted with, and who had taken an oath to protect, that very man, and everyone else in that and every community.

To “walk humbly with the Lord” is to journey with Him and see the world and others as He sees it and them, dealing with and responding to the pain of injustice as He does. When we walk humbly alongside those who hurt, whatever their situation, it must be about them and not us. It is about their pain, their experience, their perception and their reality, and not what we deem it to be. It is about understanding and responding to that pain and frustration, especially when it has been so long-lasting and, at times, systemic.

The onus is on us, if we value justice, to take responsibility for our societies, our communities, our workplaces, our Churches, our religious places, and our own families; to courageously weed out any injustice, prejudice or malice that may exist there, and even from the depth of our own hearts.

In looking at this whole situation, it is very easy to ‘other’. It is not useful to anyone to express pity from a distance, but rather, we must put ourselves in the place of that person and express a desire and commitment to journey with him or her in solidarity. Even in othering the perpetrator, thinking that they alone must do better, we may neglect to look into our own hearts, consciences and actions to judge how guilty we ourselves may be of that same crime, albeit in a different form.

At this time of pain, we pray repose for the soul of George Floyd, comfort for his family, friends and community who mourn him, and healing for our sisters and brothers in the Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean communities in the United States of America and here in our own Nation. We also pray God’s peace and blessing at this time over so many struggles in our world, that we may, in standing alongside one another, be able to be each other’s safety, strength and protection, never needing to hear those haunting words again, “I can’t breathe”, neither literally nor metaphorically.


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Coptic New Year celebrated in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, with messages from Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury and His Holiness Pope Francis

 Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                                   Media and Communications Office

Coptic New Year celebrated in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, with messages from Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury and His Holiness Pope Francis

10 October 2019

Messages from Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, The Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Welby and His Holiness Pope Francis, were read during the annual Coptic New Year Service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on 8 October 2019. The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster welcomed over four hundred and fifty guests from the House of Lords and House of Commons, the Diplomatic Corps, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, and humanitarian and advocacy organisations, various ecumenical and inter-religious guests, and members of the Coptic Orthodox community in the United Kingdom.
After his welcome, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, thanked The Very Reverend Dr John Hall for his support during his time as Dean of Westminster, and wished him every blessing for the next stages of his ministry, presenting a Coptic icon of St John the Beloved, on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox community in Britain.
The traditional Coptic vespers service was officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, who delivered a sermon on the theme of unity and solidarity, encouraging congregants to be light in darkness, and unified in bringing hope to all, despite challenges faced.

Towards the end of the evening, addresses were delivered by His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, His Excellency Tarek Adel, Ambassador of Egypt to the United Kingdom, The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, and The Viscount Younger of Leckie, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Faith and Communities.

The message from Her Majesty The Queen, read by The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, conveyed warm wishes to the clergy and congregation of the Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as all in attendance; also honouring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their Christian Faith. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, also extended warm wishes to the Coptic Orthodox community in his message read by The Right Reverend James Newcome DL, Bishop of Carlisle, offering heartfelt prayers for those who continue to face persecution and suffering for their Faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his message to the Coptic Orthodox community, presented by The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, said:

“It is my great pleasure to send you greetings as you celebrate Nayrouz once again…At new year we look back at the years past and forward to the years ahead. As we look back we remember all those who have gone before us, not least those who have shed their blood as martyrs for the faith. Those who go before make us what we are today.”

“May each one of us, united in our faith in Jesus Christ, be the one who announces peace, salvation and the Kingdom of God in his world.”

His Holiness Pope Francis, in a message presented by His Excellency Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, Apostolic Nuncio, recalled the fraternal bond with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, and offered warm wishes to the Coptic Orthodox community:

“Informed of this observance, Pope Francis, in recalling the bond that united him with his dear brother His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, addresses a special greeting to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which has been able to give a true testimony of Faith and love even in the most difficult moments.

Pope Francis takes this opportunity of the beginning of the Coptic Year to express again his best wishes for peace and health, together with gladness and appreciation of the spiritual ties that unite the See of Peter with the See of Mark.”

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, in his sermon, spoke of the reason for celebrating the Coptic New Year in St Margaret’s Church, saying:

“The reason we come back to this place every year, is so that we can gather together in prayer, but also because this place, where it is situated, who it serves, and what it stands for, is light in darkness.

We have seen so much turmoil over the past few months, even years, yet it is only in places like this, places of prayer, places of grace, places of unity and solidarity, that we are able to shine light in darkness.”

Explaining the meaning behind the Feast of Nayrouz, His Eminence continued:

“The Coptic Calendar begins in 284AD, the start of the reign of Emperor Diocletian, to honour the hundreds of thousands, and some even estimate millions, of Egyptian Christians who paid the ultimate price for their Christian Faith, during his reign. Since then, Coptic Orthdox Christians have continued to witness to their Faith in Egypt and around the world, often facing challenges, with remarkable graciousness, patience, resilience, and forgiveness.”

His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas, began his address with a reminder of the significance of reflecting on the past as well as looking forward to the future:

“It is important that we recall that in ancient times faithful communities celebrated this as the beginning of the New Year, to also remind ourselves to a commitment to change; perhaps it is that ideal of a New Year resolution, to change our ways and our lives and our hearts and to allow our ways of the past, our sins, to remain there.” 

“May this new year be the year of grace, and joy and happiness and for the people of your communities throughout the world, may the words of the Prophet King David be fulfilled, for he said to God ‘You have changed my mourning into dancing’, and may there be no mourning for the Coptic people and the Orthodox communities, but may they be filled with righteousness, joy and even dancing, and dancing from this world to the Kingdom of God.”

His Excellency Tarek Adel, commended the Coptic Orthodox community for their courage and faith during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, saying:

“We are indeed indebted to the martyrs of Egypt, they shone as beacons of light and gave the people strength and faith.”

His Excellency went on to say:

“From this great place of worship I want to stress that peace and harmony, and the most important thing, coexistence, should be the guiding principle of any civilised society. We are proud that Egypt has the largest Christian community in the Middle East, and we intend to keep on working to create and enhance a conducive environment for all Egyptians to prosper and reach their full potential regardless of their faith. We also hope that those who insist on building walls, or spreading fear, will come to understand that our only hope as humans is to live together in peace and harmony.”

“I also take this opportunity to convey the warm greetings of His Excellency Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt.”   

The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon spoke of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s official engagement in his address, the importance of people of faith advocating for one another:

“For people of all faiths and beliefs, marking the New Year is an opportunity both to look back and reflect, but also to look forward with hope and optimism.”

“There are many people I wish to thank, but perhaps none more so than His Eminence… He is not only a wise counsel but very much in the truest sense a sincere friend.”

“I pay tribute to the many selfless individuals around the world who continue to campaign for the importance and priority of religious freedom, who inspire us with their own example and courage. And everywhere I go I live by my own belief, of my own faith, that surely the greatest test of our own faith is the conviction we show in standing up for the faith or belief of others.”

The Viscount Younger of Leckie, commended the Coptic Orthodox community in the United Kingdom and echoed His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos in speaking strongly on solidarity:

“It would be remiss of me not to commend the exceptional contributions made by members of the British Coptic Orthodox community, many of whom I know go to great lengths to support the most vulnerable people in our society, including those threatened with homelessness. Your acts speak to the incredible selflessness and ultraism of your community. Such displays of kindness and generosity show Britain at its best and set an example for us all to follow.”

“Your Eminence, you have spoken with great passion and wisdom on the significance of solidarity and friendship. The importance of renewing and strengthening those ties that bind us together. This is a vision that I wholeheartedly endorse, we remain the world’s most successful, multi-faith, multi-ethnic nation and London is the world’s greatest, most diverse city. That is only really possible when we do not take it for granted, and that is why it is important for all of us to ask ourselves what more can I do to serve my community, to whom can I extend the hand of friendship, how can I help a neighbour in need.”

The concluding words in the sermon of His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, encapsulated the overall ethos of the evening:

“At this time of great anxiety and uncertainty in many parts of the world, as well as our own, it is both significant and important that we gather this evening in prayer, from across the spectrum of the Church, faith, belief, and the breadth of our community and stand as one in our ongoing journey and relationship, and our commitment to one another.

“We are an icon of what is it to be one in our diversity. We are different and that difference projects the beauty of God’s creation, and yet in that difference we must respect one another, love one another, forgive one another, be reconciled to one another and put ourselves aside for one another.”

“Tonight, as we gather, we give thanks for this unity, we give thanks for this icon, we give thanks for the life that we have, and we give thanks for the life we are promised even beyond the grave.”


Thursday, 9 May 2019

Press Release: U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, listens to freedom of religion or belief concerns at a meeting with faith leaders in Lambeth Palace

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                                Media and Communications Office

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, listens to freedom of religion or belief concerns at a meeting with faith leaders in Lambeth Palace

9 May 2019

On 8 May 2019, an unprecedented meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, hosted by The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury,
and attended by the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Ambassador Johnson, US Ambassador to the UK, and UK-based faith leaders, was held at Lambeth Palace. The aim of the meeting was to allow faith leaders to present religious freedom concerns affecting communities worldwide, along with suggestions as to how such challenges can be addressed.
This meeting was a precursor to a ‘Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom’ which will be hosted by Secretary Pompeo in the United States in July of this year.

The faith leaders participating in the conversation at Lambeth Palace were: His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, His Grace Archbishop Kevin McDonald representing the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Imam Qari Asim, Chair of Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board, and Yousif Al-Khoei of the Al-Khoei Foundation.

The meeting came just days after the interim report on the persecution of Christians worldwide, commissioned by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, revealed that of the faith communities persecuted in the world, 80% are Christian. This also comes after attacks in recent weeks on praying communities in Christchurch, Pittsburgh and Sri Lanka, among others, as well as many other gross religious freedom violations leading to tragedies worldwide, which often go unreported.

Speaking after the meeting, Archbishop Angaelos said:

“This was a welcome meeting because it brought together policy makers and religious leaders to speak on a topic that affects all of our communities. It is only with this holistic approach that we can hope to move forward and truly address religious freedom violations, and promote the safeguarding of every life which is sanctified by God.

We must, as a global community, recognise that just as there are systematic and targeted attacks on Jewish and Muslim communities, there is a similar phenomenon of attacks on Christian communities worldwide.

Religious and political leaders have a shared responsibility in promoting love, respect and acceptance of all, and to stand against the rhetoric of hate and division. The only way forward is for us as humanity to work together, and consider an attack on any of us, as an attack on all of us.”

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Comment from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, on a Home Office response to an Iranian Asylum Seeker

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Comment from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London,
on a Home Office response to an Iranian Asylum Seeker

21 March 2019

It is with great concern that I read reports from various sources yesterday regarding a letter from the Home Office rejecting an Iranian asylum seeker, and convert to Christianity, based on, at best a complete and utter misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Christian Scripture, and at worst an intentional manipulation of the text to justify the rejection of this vulnerable individual.

Home Office process and procedure on asylum issues, especially pertaining to religious converts, has been a source of ongoing conversation with the Home Office for a number of years. Through our Asylum Advocacy Group, which I founded and convene, we are working with the Home Office on a training programme due to be implemented within the coming months for case workers which takes into account incidents such as these, and many more like it.

This particular incident needs thorough investigation because while it has been accepted by a spokesperson from the Home Office as ‘not in accordance with our policy’, it must be determined whether this is merely out of misunderstanding or a proactive attempt to adversely affect the application of someone whose life may very literally be at risk. It must also be ascertained as to whether religious discrimination is at work, as there is no place for partiality within a Government that seeks to promote equality, and abides by Article 18 of the Declaration of Human Rights among other agreements.

We have been told on numerous occasions that the Home Office is not even in a position to ask whether an employee, case worker or contractor has any religious affiliation at all. Taking this into consideration, it now is astounding that such brash comments about a person’s religious belief can be made by an employee or contractor of that same institution.

Since yesterday, other examples have also arisen of similar malpractices when it comes to misrepresenting Scripture and rejecting asylum claims on those grounds, and so I do hope that these are also looked at in their entirety, and not a single case in isolation.

I look forward to our ongoing work with the Home Office as I commend the faithful and professional practice of the vast majority of Home Office staff and contractors.

Finally we must realise the extent of these actions, and that they have a bearing on people of faith who are potentially vulnerable in their state of origin, and vulnerable here in Britain as asylum seekers, and for this we must take great care to ensure that such violations do not go undetected or untreated.



Friday, 15 February 2019

Press Release: Coptic Orthodox Church commemorates contemporary Martyrs at events in New York, Washington DC, and London

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Press Release: 

Coptic Orthodox Church commemorates contemporary Martyrs at events in New York, Washington DC, and London
15 February 2019

On the 15 February, the Coptic Orthodox Church commemorates the lives of its contemporary martyrs, while also marking the fourth anniversary of the martyrdom of the 21 executed by the Caliphate in Libya. 20 of the martyrs were Coptic Orthodox Christians from Upper Egypt.

In the lead up to the anniversary, three linked events were held this week in honour of the 21, launching a book originally written in German by Martin Mosebach called ‘The 21’, translated into English by Plough Publishing House. Discussions around the importance of freedom of religion or belief were also facilitated throughout the week’s proceedings.

The first was held in the Union League Club in New York on 11 February 2019, featuring a discussion between author Martin Mosebach and His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London. The discussion was moderated by journalist Eliza Griswold of the New Yorker, and closing remarks were made by R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things magazine.

Following on from New York, an event was held on 12 February 2019, at the National Press Club, Washington DC.  Martin Mosebach discussed ‘The 21’ with Kent R. Hill, Executive Director of the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), and an address was delivered by Archbishop Angaelos, who drew attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Egypt. Addresses were also given by Ambassador Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, and Mariz Tadros, Research Fellow, Institute for Development Studies.

A panel discussion was then held with the Archbishop, Samuel Tadros, Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies, Hoover Institution and Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Centre for Religious Freedom, and Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow, Centre for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institute. The discussion was moderated by Jeremy Barker, Senior Program Officer at the RFI.

The week’s events ended with a book launch and reception on 14 February 2019 at Lambeth Palace in London, where members of the public, advocacy organisations, ambassadors, members of the House of Lords, and heads and representatives of a variety of Churches and denominations, gathered to hear about the book, along with addresses.

The welcome to Lambeth was made by The Right Revd Nicolas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Addresses were made by Bernard Hibbs, on behalf of the Bruderhoff Community, author Martin Mosebach, His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Aremenian Apostolic Church in Great Britain, Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Religious Freedom or Belief, His Excellency Mr Tarek Adel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Kingdom, and His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London.

When asked about the significance of the events of the week, Archbishop Angaelos said:

“The 21 Libya martyrs have given the world an example of faithful, resilient Christian witness, that has touched and brought together the full breadth of Christian expression around the world. Their moving solemn prayers in the face of imminent death, have not only resonated with Christians, but have also encouraged people of all faiths to stand for one another.

I am grateful for their witness, and for all those who have sought to make a positive difference in the world as a result of the 21, and continue to be inspired by their families who chose to forgive the perpetrators of this heinous crime. I am reminded of the encouraging passage in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, which highlights the paradox of Christianity, that there is victory even in death: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

The three events this week have shown that although the murder of the 21 was tragic, their witness has led to fruitful, committed collaboration around the world in order to prevent similar tragedies occurring again in any community.

I am grateful for the faithful depiction presented by Martin Mosebach, of these courageous men, their families, communities and Church, and the Bruderhoff community for having taken the initiative to publish this work.”

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Press Release: Historic service at Westminster Abbey, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
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Historic service at Westminster Abbey, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East

5 December 2018

On 4 December 2018, a historic service in Westminster Abbey, attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, was held to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East. The choir of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of London commenced the service with an introit, singing the Coptic processional hymn ‘O King of Peace’; the choir of the Syriac Orthodox Church also contributed to the service. Overall the event aimed to offer both celebration of, and encouragement to, the Christian communities of the Middle East in light of ongoing challenges and persecution faced by Christians in the region.

In the various addresses, prayers and reflections, the experience and challenges of suffering, and the expression of endurance and hope were highlighted, as well as the acknowledgement of the positive contributions that Christians, as indigenous peoples, offer their communities throughout the region.

At the beginning of the service, in his reflection, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales said:

In recent years, I have had the great privilege of meeting so many Christians who, with such inspiring faith and courage, are battling oppression and persecution, or who have fled to escape it.”

Addressing representatives of Middle East Churches, His Royal Highness went on to say:

“Forgiveness, as many of you know far better than I, is not a passive act, or submission.  Rather, it is an act of supreme courage; of a refusal to be defined by the sin against you; of determination that love will triumph over hate.”

The Prince of Wales went on to say:

“So, in coming together today, we can only give thanks for the truly remarkable strength of the Faith with which so many Christians face persecution, and which gives them the courage and the determination to endure, and to overcome.”

In conclusion, His Royal Highness said:

“So in this season of Advent, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself knew exile, injustice and suffering, I can only assure you of our steadfast support and most heartfelt prayers as you take forward your works of restoration, justice and healing, so that God’s will might be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

In his address, and in speaking of the witness of Christians in the Middle East, the Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“When the church of Jesus Christ is attacked, it is an attack on Christ Himself. When any part of the church suffers, we also suffer, and yet distance and ignorance take away the pain we should feel.”

“For suffering, and especially persecution, is something that isolates. Those outside its experience cannot say “I know how you feel" because they don't.”

The Archbishop went on to say:

“One thinks of the martyrs on the beach in Libya, of those countless killed in Iraq and Syria, of the faithfulness of Christians in parts of the region that are secure and stable, who have maintained their worship, welcomed their refugee brothers and sisters in Christ, for example in Jordan and Lebanon, and thus shone a light around the world.”

The Archbishop concluded by saying:

“And if our relationship to those brothers and sisters is genuine, then we must in this service commit ourselves not to rest until in obedience we build bridges to those who are isolated by suffering.”

Following the event, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, who contributed to the prayers during the service, said:

“Seeing Westminster Abbey filled with so many who came to recognise and pray for Christians in the Middle East was truly inspiring. The event was prayerful while also very honest in its description of both the plight and gracious contribution of Christians in the region.

I am so thankful that His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, has taken the interest and time to give this matter the priority it so crucially deserves at a time when many thousands are suffering displacement, persecution, and some even the tragic loss of loved ones. I am also thankful to Westminster Abbey and its Dean and Chapter for so generously hosting this event and for giving our Coptic Orthodox Choir and Clergy the honour of taking part in such a historic moment in time.”   

His Eminence concluded by saying:

“It is only when we all come together as Churches, organisations, governments, and so many other interested parties, that we can provide tangible and holistic solutions to the immense challenges encountered by many of our Christian sisters and brothers on a daily basis. Core to this, is also keeping this matter alive and relevant in the eyes, hearts and minds of our global community. We pray, as we continue to come together for those who struggle and suffer, that they are comforted and supported by the grace of God and by our collective interest and action in and for them as individuals and communities.”

The service was officiated by The Dean of Westminster, and attended by representatives of a number of Middle East Churches, as well as Church leaders from the United Kingdom. Over 1000 people were in attendance, and along with members of the public were congregation members from churches of the Middle East across the United Kingdom whose communities His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has visited in recent years. In December 2013, HRH The Prince of Wales commenced his visits to Middle East Churches based in the United Kingdom, with a visit to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Hertfordshire.


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