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Saturday, 21 October 2017

HG Bishop Angaelos brings a message of hope at the Coptic Nayrouz Service

On 17 October 2017 at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, the annual Coptic New Year (Nayrouz) celebrations were held, at which, His Grace Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church in the UK presided and preached.

His Grace Bishop Hovakim of the Armenian Apostolic Church
It is an important annual event in London, with significant ecumenical and inter-faith dimensions. The martyrs of the Church in the Middle East are always commemorated, but increasingly it has become an important moment when religious and political leaders from across UK society come together to pray for those around the world who are oppressed because of their religion. Thus addresses were given by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, members of parliament, and government ministers. Messages were read from HRH The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister of the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I had the honour of reading the message sent from Her Majesty the Queen.

In his powerful sermon, HG Bishop Angaelos said of religious freedom, and the martyrdom of so many who are denied that freedom: "If God respects humanity enough to empower us all with a freedom of choice, who are we to decide who has the right to believe or not believe? The Christian message has as its ultimate strength, the ability with which it can consciously and actively love and even forgive those who not only persecute, but kill us. That is what sets this apart. It is not because we are better than anyone else but because it is what we are called to do.” 

His Grace went on to say, "The gathering in this church this evening resembles the beautiful mosaic that is British life; from religious leaders to political leaders, social activists and human rights defenders, to members of the general public, we all work together. Together we should use whatever platform or gift we have to further this message. It is a tragedy if we feel there is nothing we can do, because the reality is that there is never a darkness that cannot be broken by the slightest light, and there is never a problem that cannot be addressed even if not fully resolved.”

So we continue to pray for all who suffer religious persecution and as we gather year by year, there may be signs of improvement around the world, and "less to regret and forgive, and more to celebrate and be joyful about".

Our Diocese was also well represented at this service by Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith and my Chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, both well known to HG Bishop Angaelos.

Diocesan Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith
Deacon Frances Hiller

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