Christianity Explored in Arabic

34341912573_cfbda10260_kThe Arabic editions of Christianity Explored (adult and youth) were recently launched in Cairo and Beirut. Around 300 Egyptian, Lebanese, Sudanese, Druze and Bedouin Christian leaders were introduced to the course. In Beirut the event was hosted by the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. Contact Stephen for more information about receiving training or a copies of the course.

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View more photos of the launch in Cairo and Beirut
See also more scenic photos of Cairo, Zabbaleen, Beirut the Bekaa Valley and Byblos.

Fasting for Justice

Isaiah-58.6-7At 4 a.m. on May 27 — some 90 minutes before the start of Ramadan — a hunger strike by nearly 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails came to an end, exactly 40 days after it was declared. They had refused food in protest at the denial of their human rights. The demands of the strike for freedom and dignity were straightforward – for the right to family visits, the ability to speak to their family by telephone, to receive medical care, not to be subject to isolation or to imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention.  Two prominent Christian leaders, Gregory Lahham III, former Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, and Archbishop Atallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, joined in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners as did many other people of faith around the world. Patriarch Gregory, who is 83 years old, said in an interview with Al-Mayadeen TV, “I say to the prisoners, we are with you in your sacrifice for Palestine.” Archbishop Atallah, said the prisoners’ cause is the “issue of all Palestinian people,” stressing his support for the prisoners’ just demands.  He went on to say, “We belong to this land and we belong to this people who fights for freedom. We will always remain biased to the just Palestinian cause.” The Patriarch and Archbishop joined social activists and supporters all over the world in solidarity with the hunger strikers. Continue reading →

Promoting Religious Harmony in Morocco

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In May, I gave a paper at a conference at the University of Oujda in Morocco, on defending the human rights of Palestinian children held in Israeli detention. My presentation was based on testimonies gathered from families living near Bethlehem together with the observations and recommendations of UNICEF and Defence of Children International.

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During the conference Yasmine Perni, the Italian film producer, also showed part of her documentary film about the Palestinian Christian community, The Stones Cry Out.

The visit also included opportunities to preach in the Anglican churches in Rabat and Casablanca on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Read the text here.

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It was a delight to share in the services at St John’s Church Casablanca in particular. The church family is truly international. The chaplain, Medhat Sabry celebrated 30 years ministry recently. The same week the foundation stone for the new church extension and centre was laid by Bishop David Hamid, David Harries, the British Consul, Stephanie Miley, the US Charge d’Affairs and Khaled Safieh, the Wali of Casablanca, with the blessing of King Mohamed Vl.

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Morocco has one of the most enlightened approaches to religious harmony in the Middle East. The Marrakesh Declaration concludes:

“AFFIRM that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.”

More photographs of Casablanca, Fez & Oujda (all taken with an iPhone 6).

 

Reconciliation Depends on Truth

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Peacemaker Mediators (www.peacemakers.ngo) was launched on Saturday May 6 at Christ Church Virginia Water. It aims to be a catalyst for peacemaking, especially where minorities are persecuted, where justice is denied, human rights are suppressed or reconciliation is needed. The director, the recently retired vicar of Christ Church, the Rev Stephen Sizer, wants to work with other peacemaking charities, with a specific role of dealing with causes not consequences.

Patrons of the charity are Archbishop Mouneer Anis (Jerusalem and the Middle East) and the former Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi.

The Panel of Reference includes Bishop Michael Langrish, former Bishop of Exeter.

Speaking from this Sunday’s lectionary he noted that Ephesians 2: 14 reads “Christ is our peace who has broken down the dividing wall to make peace”. The cross which was a priestly and prophetic act is not a victory over hatred, Bishop Langrish said.  Jesus was not winning a conflict but putting an end to conflict.  Pouring millions into peacekeeping only keeps warring parties apart.  The Christian community struggles to keep reconciliation alive. “This charity is committed to keep that witness alive,” he said, “a vocation to which Christ calls us and for which he gives us the grace.”

Continue reading

Christ is our Peace

Michael_Langrish“Christ is our peace who has broken down the dividing wall to make peace”. The cross which was a priestly and prophetic act is not a victory over hatred.  Jesus was not winning a conflict but putting an end to conflict.  Pouring millions into peacekeeping only keeps warring parties apart.  The Christian community struggles to keep reconciliation alive. “This charity is committed to keep that witness alive, a vocation to which Christ calls us and for which he gives us the grace.”

The Right Revd Michael Langrish, the retired Bishop of Exeter, speaking at the launch of Peacemaker Mediators.

A manifesto for the persecuted church

George_Carey_3380450kAn important and timely article from Lord Carey on the persecution of Christians published by Christian Global News

“I recently saw images of the hauntingly empty Iraqi town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, which was taken by ISIS in 2014. It had a population of 50,000 mostly Assyrian Christians, but is now totally abandoned. The militants have used every means to erase the town of its Christian identity defiling and destroying its beautiful church buildings.

In August 2014, the militants swept through towns around Mosul and forced thousands to flee. Qaraqosh’s Christians abandoned their homes and have still not returned, even though the town has now been liberated from IS.

I have always felt a particular connection with Iraq having spent my national service as a wireless operator in Basra and when I was there the Christian community was a sizeable proportion of the population – living happily and peacefully alongside Shia and Sunni Muslims. But successive waves of persecution and violence are threatening to ‘cleanse’ Christianity not just from its heartlands in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Israel and Palestinian areas, but from the whole of the Middle East.

It is only just over 100 years since the often forgotten Armenian genocide by the Ottomans wiped out millions of Middle-Eastern Christians. The world has been standing by while it happens again at the hands of ISIS and other groups linked to Al-Qaeda. The situation is similarly parlous in Northern Nigeria where Boko Haram –  notorious for abducting 296 Chibok schoolgirls – has been conducting a systematic reign of terror and killing of Christian communities.”

Read more here