Icon from St George's Coptic Cathedral, Stevenage
Christians around the world have been shocked by the attack on worshippers in a Church in Alexandria, Egypt on 1 January. Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, a personal friend and a friend of this diocese, sent this invitation to join with Coptic Christians across Europe this Sunday 9th January.
Dear Friends,I am unable to attend the service in Stevenage, but have sent this message on behalf of our diocese:
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to start by wishing you all a blessed new year filled with joy in the Incarnate Lord of the holy Nativity Who gives us all a message of hope and promise of life in and with Him, in this world and in the life to come.
Following the painful events in Alexandria in the early hours of this year which led to the death of 22 innocent church-goers, the wounding of more than 80, the traumatisation of a whole community and the transformation of joy and hope to suffering and despair, we will be joining in our prayer together.
At 12:00 GMT this coming Sunday, 9 January, all of our churches across Europe will be praying a general funeral service for all those Coptic Christians who have lost their lives in 2010. This will be a peaceful and spiritual remembrance of painful and heinous targeted acts of violence against innocent worshippers.
Our main service in the United Kingdom will be conducted in the Cathedral of Saint George at the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage.
I therefore, personally, and on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, invite you to share this day with us. I am very aware that it is short notice at a difficult time of the year, but we did not want too much time to pass after the event.
I await your replies, and leave you in the love and care of our gracious Lord.
Dear Bishop Angaelos, dear Brother in ChristI invite the congregations of our Diocese in Europe to remember our Coptic brothers and sisters in the intercessions this coming Sunday.
Unfortunately I am unable to attend the service this Sunday in the Coptic Centre in Stevenage, but on behalf of the clergy and people of the Diocese in Europe I want to send this message to express our deepest sorrow and condolences to your community following the attack on worshippers in the Church of St Mark and St Peter in Alexandria on 1 January. Please be assured of the prayers of your brothers and sisters of this Church of England diocese this coming Sunday as Coptic parishes across Europe join in memorial services for the victims. We pray for those who have died in this tragedy, for the many wounded, and for the families and friends of all who are affected. We pray for God to bring comfort and steadfastness of faith as Christians in Egypt face the aftermath of yet another violent assault.
We also pray for the President of Egypt and all in authority to take immediate action to protect people from such attacks, but especially the minority Christian community whose right to worship and continue to live the Faith must be guaranteed. Together with international leaders, the government of Egypt must work to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice.
May God's love made known in the Incarnate Word embrace you and your people at this time and may all the departed be welcomed into the fullness of joy and peace.
With deep fraternal love in the Lord