Light Shines from an Ancient Church in Troubled Cairo
On July 25th, Pope Tawadros, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt chose the historical Hanging Church in Old Cairo district to hold a prayer service for Egypt and the critical situation facing Egyptian believers.
The weekly teaching service he usually holds on Wednesdays at the main Orthodox Cathedral in the Abassia district is attended by thousands. However, during the last week in July, Pope Tawadros decided to cancel his teaching service and lead a prayer service in light of the numerous attacks against different communities of Christians across Egypt and particularly in Minya over the last few weeks.
Attacks by radical Muslim mobs or individuals have resulted in several deaths and injuries in addition to looted and destroyed churches and Christian homes in scattered villages and small towns throughout the country. One of the widespread impacts of the attacks is the fear that had filled the hearts of local Christians in their wake.
Although he is officially the head of the historical Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, Pope Tawadros frequently stands as the loudest voice of the entire Christian population of Egypt, estimated to be as high at 12–15% percent of the total population. His choice to move his weekly service from the cathedral to the Hanging Church is quite significant given the building’s history.
The Hanging Church was built on two towers of a fort from the Roman period, with the first mention of a church on that site dating back to the 3rd or 4th century. Early believers used the church as a place of refuge during times of Roman persecution. Pope Tawadros’ choice to lead this prayer service from the Hanging Church harkens back to a painful chapter of the long history of the Egyptian church.
His symbolic statement also sends a message to Christians throughout Egypt that, by the grace of God, years of persecution from various political powers have come and gone, but the church of Egypt remains, shining for the Lord in the land of Egypt. Please join us as we pray for this turbulent country. Pray that the light of Christ in His church will shine so multitudes of Egyptians may come to the Lord