Diocese of Egypt (Anglican) Middle East Published Articles

Alexandria School of Theology Confers First MA Degrees

AST Graduation

Ten years after its founding, the Anglican Alexandria School of Theology (AST) celebrated its first graduating class to receive the degree of Masters of Arts in Theology. The four students joined the July 18th commencement exercises with 27 others who received a Bachelors in Theology, plus one who completed a two-year diploma program.

Rev. Samy Fawzy, principal of AST, congratulated the graduates for their efforts over the past four years, despite the difficulties Egypt has experienced. Rev. Atif Mehany, dean of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, urged them further in his commencement address to overcome the challenges following the Arab Spring and fulfill their responsibilities to serve both church and society.

Rev. Fawzy conferred the degrees with Bishop Grant LeMarqand, vice-chairman of the board of AST, and Rev. Mouneer Hanna Anis, chairman of the board of AST, bishop of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa, and president bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East. They were joined by Bishop Peter Tasker, representing the archbishop of Sydney and AST partner institution Moore College in Australia.

Class representative Philip Bishay offered thanks to the staff and professors of AST on behalf of a diverse body of many denominations, who through dialogue and unity completed each other, he said. He encouraged all in attendance to let the light of God fill their hearts, which will then shine no matter the darkness around them.

AST MA Graduates

This article was first published at the Anglican Diocese webpage.


Honor and Humility in the Anglican Communion


From Bishop Mouneer in his diocesan newsletter, on the recent visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby:

In the Middle East, Africa, and much of the non-Western world, extending honour is among the chief virtues. Our Anglican Communion is blessed to have a leader who embodies not only this cultural value, but also its Biblical roots.

“Without doubt, the lesser person is blessed by the greater,” writes the author of Hebrews. “Honour one another above yourselves,” writes Paul in Romans. On April 20, our diocese of Egypt was blessed by the visit of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He came to offer condolences over the martyrdom of 21 Christians killed by ISIS in Libya. But in humility, as a man of the West visiting the East, he proved the reality of these verses in his life and leadership.

In attendance were Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos and Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonius Aziz, themselves men of humble service there to honour his visit. Aware the representatives of these churches could not share in an Anglican Eucharist, the archbishop desired to demonstrate his appreciation for their churches in a land whose children produced such a testimony of faith.

Archbishop Welby left the communion table, knelt before the two bishops, and asked them to pray a blessing for him. Immediately moved in spirit, they knelt as well, and asked the same of him. He then returned and offered body and blood to God’s holy church. Both privately expressed how they were touched by his gesture.

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” said Jesus to his disciples. “Those who honour me,” said God in I Samuel, “I will honour.” Following communion, Archbishop Welby joined me in demonstrating this call and promise of God.

For the past seven years, Rev. Drew Schmotzer has worked tirelessly not only as my personal assistant, but also in assuming vacant pastoral positions in Maadi, Menouf, and at All Saints Cathedral. He is now leaving the diocese to return to the United States. Archbishop Welby’s visit was Rev. Drew’s last day in Egypt. During the service, we were able to honour Rev. Drew’s humble service to the Diocese of Egypt. I presented him with the shield of the diocese in gratitude for his ministry.

“God is not unjust,” it is written in Hebrews, “he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people.” The virtue of honour is one the Eastern Church can share with the Western. Our Anglican Communion is blessed to have so many from all cultures who, in humility, exhibit it already.

Diocese of Egypt (Anglican) Middle East Published Articles

Bishop Mouneer on the Beheading of Egyptian Copts in Libya

Copts Killed in LibyaDear Friends,

It is with great sadness I write you today about the heinous murder of 21 Egyptian Christians at the hand of the so-called Islamic State branch in Libya. These men from the Upper Egyptian city of Samalout are no different from thousands of other Muslim and Christian Egyptians in Libya, seeking employment to support their families back home.

Except that these 21 were specifically chosen for their Christian faith. The video of their beheading expressed the Islamic State’s intention to increasingly target the Copts of Egypt.

This morning the Egyptian government launched airstrikes on Islamic State positions. It has declared a week of mourning, banned further travel to Libya, and will work to facilitate the return of all Egyptian citizens. The foreign minister has been dispatched to the United Nations to discuss the necessary international response.

The Anglican Church in Egypt and the world expresses its deep condolences to the families of these men, and also to his Holiness Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Please join me in praying for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East. Please pray the international community will act in wisdom, correctly and efficiently, and support Egypt in its war on terror. Please pray the churches of Egypt will comfort their sons and daughters, encouraging them to resist fear and hatred. And please pray for the perpetrators of this terrible crime, that God would be merciful to them and change their hearts.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Such cheer may seem impossible, but it is God’s promise. Please pray for us, that we may live lives worthy of his name, and hold to the testimony exhibited by the brave Egyptians in Libya.

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis
Archbishop of Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Primate of the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Diocese of Egypt (Anglican) Middle East Published Articles

The Egyptian Family House: Muslims and Christians, Holding Hands

Imam-Priest 1

Of all the slogans of the Egyptian revolution, ‘One Hand’ was among the most popular. At various times it was shouted by the thousands to indicate the unity of Muslims and Christians, or the unity of the people and the army, or more recently in the fight against terrorism.

But along this progression the utopian unity of Tahrir Square has faded. It has been challenged by political struggles and sectarian rhetoric, which have at times intermixed.

Perhaps, then, in recognition of the dual truths of religious unity and diversity, Bishop Mouneer Hanna of the Anglican diocese of Egypt opened the final session of the 2014 Imam-Priest Exchange with a different hand analogy.

‘Let us hold hands together,’ he said, ‘for the sake of Egypt.’

The Imam-Priest Exchange is one of the most dynamic projects of the Egyptian Family House, an entity created in 2011 by the Azhar and Coptic Orthodox Church. The Protestant and Catholic denominations are also vital participants, and the Anglican Church has taken the lead in training religious leaders in dialogue and practical partnership.

The Family House has a mandate to interact with government ministers through its committee work in education, media, youth, and religious discourse. But it is this latter committee which is actively preparing its second mandate: Taking the message of national unity to the grassroots.

For it is here that the real challenge of terrorism and sectarianism must be fought. No matter the international scope of these issues gripping the region, too many Egyptians are drafted into extremism.

‘This session coincides with a bloody period that Egypt is going through, killing Muslims and Christians together,’ said Sheikh Muhi al-Din Afifi, head of the Azhar’s Islamic Research Center. ‘We must spread a culture of citizenship, love, peace, and coexistence.’

The military aspect of this challenge is important, Bishop Mouneer emphasized. ‘But ideology is more important and this is why we are here today,’ he said.

‘I hope and trust this will not be our last meeting, but the beginning of our mutual work.’

Imam-Priest 2

November 3-5 witnessed the final of four sessions during which 35 imams and 35 priests from throughout the country lived together, attended training seminars, and visited local historical and religious sites. Their dialogue, so to speak, was not the formal discussion of religious doctrines, but rather the exchange of life, rubbing shoulders over meals and jokes.

They repeated the program experienced a year earlier by seventy others, to be repeated again in 2015 with seventy more.

The first session concerned how to get to know each other, followed in the second by how to live together. But as participants grew more comfortable the purposes grew more demanding. Session three was on how to cooperate, and session four on how to work together.

‘I beseech you to have joint work together throughout Egypt,’ said Afifi, ‘not just religious but also medical and developmental.’

It was not easy in the beginning. During the first session the 2013 graduates were brought back to testify of their experiences. Imams and priests demonstrated their newfound friendships, as just a year previously they had not known each other.

However, there remains challenges in these relationships. Some spoke that a priest would never be welcome in a mosque, nor an imam in a church. Some emphasized the glories of their own religion, and some described others as not really wanting to be there in the first place.

‘It is very hard work,’ said Saleem Wassef, the project director and a lay minister in the Anglican Church. ‘But I stress to them we are here to emphasize a culture of “me and you together,” rather than simply “me or you.”’

These grumblings, however, were outnumbered by testimonies of interaction. Fr. Mityas of Fayoum visited Sheikh Ali when his wife fell ill. Fr. Suriyal of Ismailia visited schools and hospitals with Sheikh Abdel Rahman. Fr. Kyrillos of Port Said solved sectarian problems with Sheikh Hassan. And Sheikh Hisham of Mallawi visits coffee shops with various priests of his city, asking people their impressions about men of religion.

These social appearances are to Bishop Mouneer one of the most important outcomes of the meetings.

‘We are not here to listen to lectures and visit locations,’ he told participants, ‘but each one after leaving here must look for the closest imam or priest near to him and make relationships, hold seminars, and walk in the street together.’

Imam-Priest 3

Indeed, as imams and priests left their hotel in Dokki they needed to go about four blocks to a main road where the bus could take them to their next location. Onlookers stopped conversations and turned to watch the unusual spectacle.

Some priests confessed they had all but stopped walking alone in the streets of their cities, being subject to insults and even spitting. But walking together makes a great difference.

‘Egyptians love men of religion,’ said Fr. Arsanious of Beni Suef, ‘and if they see a priest and an imam together it influences them to work together and overcome fanaticism.

‘These displays of love are like the leaven that spreads through the whole community.’

Fr. Arsanious wants to help open a regional branch of the Family House in his area. Fr. Mikhail and Sheikh Emad hope to begin work in the Cairo slum of Kilo Arba wa Nus.

If successful, they will follow in the footsteps of the previous class which opened branches in Alexandria, Luxor, Port Said, Ismailia, and Giza. This is where the real work takes place, outside the conferences, which will prove their lasting value. Will the friendships forged between imams and priests over the course of a year carry over into continued cooperation?

In expectant hope, Wassef trained them how to measure the fruit of their friendship. Are they working together as a team? Have they touched all classes of their local area? Have they incorporated others already at work in civil society? And have they written out a plan to accomplish the above, with deadlines?

‘We are working hard to exchange a culture of hatred with a culture of love,’ said Wassef. ‘This is for the welfare of our country, to change the minds of Muslims and Christians toward one another.

‘The project helps reach unreached places.’

Imam-Priest 4

This article was originally published at the website of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt.


Diocese of Egypt (Anglican) Middle East Published Articles

Pope Tawadros Opens Art Exhibition at Anglican Cathedral

Tawadros and Fadel

In a historic visit, Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church inaugurated ‘The Way of Salvation: Exhibition of Christian Art,’ organized by the Anglican Church of Egypt as part of the celebrations of 75th anniversary of All Saints Cathedral. Eleven artists submitted 28 works of painting, sculpture, and relief to express the Christian message of salvation culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

‘I truly appreciate the role played by art in spiritual meditation and inspiration of acts of good will,’ wrote Tawadros in the official program. ‘For this reason the church through the ages has encouraged all fields of art as an important tool to illustrate the stories of the Bible and the life of the saints.’

In his opening remarks, Bishop Mouneer Hanna of the Anglican Church honored the Orthodox as the ‘mother church’ of Egypt, and expressed his appreciation for the pope’s visit.

‘The pope believes in the unity of the churches, which Jesus prayed for,’ he said. ‘With his presence he emphasizes the spiritual work and the love between the churches.’

Since his consecration as pope in November 2012, Tawadros has sought to lessen tensions between Egyptian Christian denominations and publicly esteem their common faith. This was his first visit to the Anglican cathedral, and in March 2013 he attended the inauguration of Bishop Ibrahim Isaac as the new Coptic Catholic patriarch.

Rarely in history has the Coptic Orthodox pope visited other churches in Egypt, confirmed Fr. Bishouy Helmy, secretary-general of the Egypt Council of Churches.

‘This visit carries the values of an open mind and faith in ecumenical work with other churches,’ he said. ‘It also expresses appreciation and honor for the arts.’

Pope Tawadros spent over an hour in the exhibition, studying each piece and communicating with the artists.

‘Selecting the ten participating artists was done through a lot of prayer,’ wrote Dr. Farid Fadel, the exhibition’s curator and eleventh participant. Care was taken to ensure each artist would submit works that expressed the message of salvation, he said, as some artists belong to schools which desecrate holy subjects.

‘What you see today is the collective outcome of their labor of love.’

All Saint’s Cathedral in Zamalek will display the exhibition until 8 May 2014, 10:30am to 8pm


This article was originally published at the Anglican website. The opening photo is credited to the diocese.


These were my favorite pieces from the show:

'The Fall of Adam and Eve', by Salah Botros
‘The Fall of Adam and Eve’, by Salah Botros
'Sinai, Holy Land', by Gamal Lamie
‘Sinai, Holy Land’, by Gamal Lamie
'Born to be Crucified', by Wagdy Habashy
‘Born to be Crucified’, by Wagdy Habashy
'Cross of Shame', by Nathan Doss
‘Cross of Shame’, by Nathan Doss

Anglican Bishop Mouneer on the Break-Up of pro-Morsi Sit-Ins

Bishop Mouneer Anis
Bishop Mouneer Anis

As violence continues in Cairo and cities throughout Egypt today, the Anglican Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis has issued a statement urging people to pray. Here is his description of events:

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As I write these words, our St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Suez is under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi.  They are throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the church and have destroyed the car of Rev. Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour’s Church.  I am also aware that there are attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt (see attached photo), as well as a Catholic church in Suez.  Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt.  Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt.

Orthodox Church in Suhag

Early this morning, the police supported by the army, encouraged protestors in two different locations in Cairo, to leave safely and go home.  It is worth mentioning that these protestors have been protesting for 6 weeks, blocking the roads.  The people in these neighborhoods have been suffering a great deal—not only these people, but those commuting through, especially those who are going to the airport.  The police created very safe passages for everyone to leave.  Many protestors left and went home, however, others resisted to leave and started to attack the police.  The police and army were very professional in responding to the attacks, and they used tear gas only when it was necessary.  The police then discovered caches of weapons and ammunition in these sites.  One area near Giza is now calm, but there is still some resistance at other sites.  There are even some snipers trying to attack the police and the army.  There are even some rumors that Muslim Brotherhood leaders asked the protestors in different cities to attack police stations, take weapons, and attack shops and churches.

A few hours later, violent demonstrations from Mursi supporters broke out in different cities and towns throughout Egypt.  The police and army are trying to maintain safety for all people and to disperse the protestors peacefully.  However, the supporters of former President Mursi have threatened that if they are dispersed from the current sites, they will move to other sites and continue to protest.   They also threatened to use violence.  There have been a number of fatalities and casualties from among the police as well as the protestors, but it seems that the numbers are not as high as expected for such violence.  However, the supporters of former President Mursi claim that there are very high numbers of casualties.  The real numbers will be known later on.

Please pray that the situation will calm down, for wisdom and tact for the police and the army, for the safety of all churches and congregations, and that all in Egypt would be safe.

May the Lord bless you!


In my quick reading of events, it seems clear that live gunfire is being exchanged on both sides. Either infiltrators were very quick to penetrate the protests and fire on police, or the lie is given that these demonstrations were completely peaceful. Reports the past few weeks indicated the protest organizers were keen to check the IDs and pat down everyone who entered the sit-in. Many, probably the great majority, of those present were unarmed. But apparently, reports which indicated weapons were present were also true.

As Bishop Mouneer stated, churches across the country are also being targeted. Interesting to note is this report:

The al-Gamaa al-Islamiya ultra-conservative movement called on supporters of toppled president Morsi to take to the streets to condemn what it termed “coup crimes.”

The statement by the hardline Islamist group – a close ally of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood – also urged its loyalists “enraged by police attacks on the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins,” not to assault “Christians or their religious buildings.”

So at this point they read these attacks as actions of the pro-Morsi crowds, rather than a black flag of the security forces, which they warned about weeks earlier. The speculation would be if this is their public face covering over their own private rage and instruction. Anti-Christian rhetoric has been employed by several Islamist figures ever since the original protest movement against Morsi in December 2012 when he issued a constitutional declaration granting himself absolute power (later rescinded, but protecting of actions taken during that time).

But in this current climate, it is difficult to make sense of the situation. Patience is needed, for there will soon be a flood of propaganda.

Lapido Media Middle East Published Articles

Beauty and Women Celebrated at Inter-Faith Art Exhibition

‘We came here today to satisfy our soul for its need of beauty.’ With these words Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Gamia addressed the crowd at the Caravan Festival of Arts, hosted by St. John the Baptist Church in Maadi, Egypt.

But then he continued, rather surprisingly given the oft-assumed perspectives of Muslim scholars.

‘When you look to the heavens, you see beauty and love. When you look to the kingdom of earth, you see beauty and love. When you look in the faces of people, you see beauty and love…

‘And when you look at the form of a woman, you see beauty and love.’

Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler

The rector of St. John’s is Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler who stated, ‘Art is one of the best means for encouraging friendship among those with differences.’

From left: Dr. Azab, Bishop Mouneer, and Sheikh Gamia

This evening, these differences were in short supply. In addition to Gamia mentioned above, Chandler introduced Bishop Mouneer, head of the Anglican diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa, and Dr. Mahmoud Azab, head of the Azhar committee for interfaith dialogue.

Bishop Mouneer declared, ‘Many things divide us, but love, the love of God, brings us together. When we love God truly, we love each other also.

‘Art also serves a role in bringing us together.’

Bishop Mouneer is also a participant in the exhibition, supplying one of his photographs. Referring to it, he stated, ‘The road ahead in the revolution is to realize we are all in one boat.

‘All in the Same Boat’ – Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Egypt

‘We must take care of this boat, which is Egypt.

‘We must also row in the same direction.’

Dr. Azab declared, ‘Religion as a sign of civilization is an inspiration to scholars and artists alike.

‘Christianity is the religion of love, Islam is the religion of mercy, and Egypt is in dire need of both.’

The Caravan Festival of the Arts also featured two prominent Egyptian performers.


Yousra is a famous Egyptian actress, and has also been honored by the United Nations as an advocate for the oppressed. She stated, ‘The arts are one of the most powerful ways to bring society together.

‘This is true even though those who wish to restrict freedom also often wish to restrict art.

‘Art unites us, it is a language of love, a language of peace; it goes straight to your heart.’

Yet Yousra expressed concern for the future as well.

‘One year after the revolution we are starting to hear voices that threaten our freedom.

‘This scares me, but it also makes me want to fight harder for it.

‘You can never negotiate a person’s freedom.’

Rula Zaki

Rula Zaki is a popular Egyptian singer. Though she offered no remarks, she captivated the crowd through her beautiful rendition of ‘People of the Book’, celebrating the unity of Muslim and Christian in Egypt.

Click here for a YouTube link of her performance with English subtitles.

The Caravan Festival of the Arts exhibition was entitled ‘The Road Ahead’, contemplating the future direction of the Egyptian revolution. It featured 45 artists from both the East and the West. All pieces are available for purchase, with 20% of all proceeds going to charities aiding the poor of Egypt.

The following are a few selected works of art. Remembering Sheikh Gamia’s praise, take note of the prominence of women:

‘She is our Mirror’ – Khalil al-Hakim, Lebanon; the portrait is of Alia al-Mahdi, who caused caused great controversy in Egypt by posting nude artistic images of herself online, in defense of revolutionary freedoms
‘He Holds the Future’ – Dr. Faris Fadel, Egypt; the image suggests an emergence from the desert in full faith in God to guide the road ahead
‘Unraveling’ – Julia Moran-Leamon, USA; a careful look will reveal this to be a woman’s dress, upon which is written the word ‘freedom’ in Arabic
‘Motherhood and the Future’ – Dr. Ahmed Salim, Egypt; Hailing from Aswan, this image depicts the Nubian people of Egypt and their hope for the future

In addition to these, two canvases bore particularly revolutionary images:

‘Colours of Hope’ – Renee van Lille-Demetroudes, South Africa; note the iconic revolutionary scenes of priests and imams embracing, under the banners of Facebook and Twitter
‘Bread’ – Julie Klimenton, UK; the text reads: By the year 2050 the population will increase to 60 million

This last painting is a reminder that no matter how beautiful is creativity, or how uniting is art, humanity must eat, and revolutions much achieve social justice. If not, all such celebrations are in vain.

Like many questions in Egypt, this one is still unanswered. The Caravan Festival is right to focus on ‘The Road Ahead.’

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