Archbishop's message at Memorial Service for victims of violence in Egypt
Sunday 8th January 2012A Memorial Service for victims of the bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, has been held in the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
The Memorial Service marked the first anniversary of the bombing of the Coptic Orthodox church of Saint Mark and Pope Peter in Alexandria which killed 23 and injured many more on New Year's Day 2011.
The service also commemorated the victims of violence in Atfih, Imbaba and Maspero, and was an opportunity for those gathered to remember and pray for all who had been injured or lost their lives or loved ones in Egypt, or been otherwise touched by these events.
It was attended by members of the Coptic community, as well as church leaders and members of ecumenical and inter religious groups and the diplomatic service. HM the Queen was represented, and members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office attended on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government.
The following message from Archbishop Rowan Williams to His Holiness Pope Shenouda and the Coptic community was delivered at the service, which took place in the Coptic Cathedral of Saint George under the care of His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK.
The full text of the Archbishop's message follows:
To His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, His Grace Bishop Angaelos,
the bishops, clergy and people of the Coptic Orthodox Church and their guests
at the Memorial Service in the Coptic Cathedral of St George, Stevenage,
8 January 2012
Your Holiness, Your Grace, My dear brothers and sisters,
As you meet to commemorate the anniversary of the terrible tragedy in Alexandria last year, as well as the victims of Atfih, Imbaba and Maspero, I write to assure you once again of the love and prayer that the Church of England extends for you.
We are all deeply conscious of the spiritual gifts poured out upon the Coptic Church, and our prayer at the moment is that those gifts will be used in a peaceful new Egypt, where the very best of your history of tolerance and co-operation between communities of faith may be honoured. We pray very earnestly for the good of the whole nation; and in the spirit of the prophet Jeremiah, we hope that you will continue to 'seek the welfare of the city where the Lord has placed you'.
At this Season, as we celebrate the indescribable gift of Our Lord's coming in the flesh among us, we give thanks to Him because He will never leave His own: He remains faithful in darkness as in light; and, as St John tells us, the darkness will not overcome His Light. As our holy Father Cyril wrote in his treatise on the Creed, "He is Life from the Life of God the Father; and this is how death is conquered, death which was arrogant enough to attack the very Body of Life. In this way, corruption is being done away with in our lives and the grip of death is weakened."
Your Holiness, Your Grace, dear friends: may this Life which is always with us be made known through us, and may the Spirit preserve you and all our beloved friends in the Coptic Church in God's peace.
Your brother in the Lord:
Epiphany of the Lord
6 January 2012