In their first joint statement ever, the spiritual leaders of Christianity’s three largest denominations addressed the United Nations.
“Listen to the cry of the earth, pledging meaningful sacrifices,” stated their appeal. “We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations.”
Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church; Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church; and Justin Welby, the evangelical Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, issued their plea this month to delegates attending next month’s UN climate summit in Scotland.
Noting that life on “the earth which God has given” has become an “urgent matter of survival,” the three leaders framed inaction as a severe injustice.
“The people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet,” they stated, “and have been the least responsible for causing them.”
The Lausanne/World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network (LWCCN) “wholeheartedly endorsed” the statement.
“The environmental crisis represents the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced,” said Ed Brown, LWCCN co-catalyst for creation care, “and is a monumental failure to obey the clear command of Scripture to care for God’s creation.”
Francis, Bartholomew, and Welby urged corporations to seek “people-centered profits.” They called on nations to “stop competing for resources, and start collaborating.” But they also called on Christians to pray, celebrating…
This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on September 16, 2021. Please click here to read the full text.
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.
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.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Justin Welby visited the Anglican All Saints Cathedral in Cairo and opened his sermon with a surprising comparison. Earlier he visited Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb, and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.
“It has been an interesting and useful day,” the archbishop told the packed cathedral of his high profile itinerary, “but worshipping with you is the most important part.
“Here we meet with Jesus Christ and become his witnesses.”
Welby’s visit was to offer condolences for Egypt’s most recent witnesses, the twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian martyred in Libya in February. The word ‘martyr’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘witness.’
Symbolically, Welby delivered to Pope Tawadros twenty-one letters written by grieving British families. One is believed to have been related to David Haines, the aid worker captured in Syria and beheaded last year.
“Why have the martyrs of Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” Welby asked. “The way these brothers lived and died communicated that their testimony is trustworthy.”
But an unfortunate symbolism coincided his visit with the release of another video from the Islamic State in Libya, this time of Ethiopian Christians. Two groups totaling twenty-eight people were martyred, one beheaded and the other shot in the head.
Welby paid tribute to them, along with others killed for their faith in Kenya and Nigeria.
He noted the certainty of their resurrection, but stated, “We must grieve for them, support their families, and seek to change the circumstances that lead to their deaths.”
Welby’s sermon did not go into specifics, but he has earlier defended military strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, while urging local governments to exercise their mandated use of force to restore order.
And concerning the flood of refugees to the region, “Europe as a whole must stand up and do what is right,” he told the BBC, and share the burden of accepting them.
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, over 125,000 Syrians have fled to Egypt. Refuge Egypt, a social service arm of the Anglican Church in Egypt, extends food and medical care to those the UNHCR designates as of particular concern.
Welby praised the Christians of the Middle East for their trustworthy witness. But in order to be communicated, it must be acted out.
“If the church hears the world’s cries for help, but turns its back,” he said, “they will not believe in the love of Christ.”
Visiting with President Sisi, the archbishop heard him emphasize that Egyptian Christians are not a minority, but enjoy their full rights as all other Egyptian citizens.
Visiting with Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyib, he heard that love and mercy are the two elements that must characterize both international and human relations, and that the true picture of Islam and Christianity must be presented to the world.
“When a community is full of light,” Welby said in his sermon, “people will see through it and perceive God, and know they are loved by Christ.”
During communion, he sought to demonstrate this. Aware the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic bishops present could not share in full fellowship, Welby went to them and knelt down, asking for a blessing. In response, the two reciprocated and each prayed for the other in turn.
So many are having hard times in this region, Welby said, he wanted to come and offer condolences. Finishing his sermon, hepromised the audience that he was praying for them in the Middle East, but closed with a request of his own, for the West.
“Please pray for us, that in our comfort we do not forget to be faithful witnesses.”
Once again, ISIS has orchestrated and filmed the dramatic mass killing of African Christians who refuse to deny their faith.
This time, the approximately 28 men targeted by the Libya affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as Daesh) were Ethiopian Christians. In February, the killing of 21 mostly Egyptian Christians drew widespread horror and fears of future massacres, but also led to Egypt’s largest Bible outreach.
The video was released the same day the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, arrived in Cairo to offer condolences for the previous martyrs in Libya: 20 Coptic Orthodox Christians and a sub-Saharan African. (CT reported how their deaths were unifying Egypt and inspiring Muslims throughout the Arab world, as well as honored in the Coptic calendar.)
“Why has Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” asked Welby during a public sermon. “The way these brothers lived and died testified that their faith was trustworthy.”
The Ethiopian government has not yet been able to confirm the video, or certify the victims are its citizens.
But Grant LeMarquand, the Anglican bishop of the Horn of Africa, says they certainly appear to be.
“If they were given the chance to convert and did not,” he told CT, “they should be considered what ISIS calls them: ‘People of the Cross’, and therefore true followers of the crucified one.”
Bishop Angaelos, the general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, underscored the Ethiopians’ testimony.
“Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith,” he said in a statement.
“As Christians, we remain committed to our initial instinct following the murder of our 21 Coptic brothers in Libya, that it is not only for our own good, but indeed our duty to ourselves, the world, and even those who see themselves as our enemies, to forgive and pray for the perpetrators of this and similar crimes,” he said. “We pray for these men and women, self-confessed religious people, that they may be reminded of the sacred and precious nature of every life created by God.”
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