Under the motto “Give me to drink”, the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians was launched in Cairo on Monday 9 February. The prayer week is jointly organised by the Middle East Council of Churches and the Council of Churches of Egypt, and runs till Monday 16 February. Participating in the prayer week are the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox, the Coptic Catholic, the Evangelical and the Episcopal Churches in Egypt.
Every day features a prayer meeting at a Cairo church that belongs to one of the participating sects.
The first event of the prayer week was held at the Coptic Catholic Cathedral of St Anthony the Great in the Cairo district of Faggalah.
Attending were Anba Ibrahim Ishak, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church and Chairman of the Board of the Patriarchs and Catholic bishops in Egypt and Rev. Dr Safwat al-Bayadi head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt attended the event. Representing Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church was Anba Pavli, Bishop General of Ezbet al-Nakhl; and the Greek Orthodox Church was represented by Anba Nicolas, Bishop of Tanta. A large number of clergy and congregations joined.
The theme of the first day was “Walking towards the other”. The Bible texts read focused on the Living Water that alone can give men and women real contentment. The readings came from St John 4 which cites the story of Jesus at the well and the Samaritan woman, the story in Genesis of Eleazer and Rebecca at the well, and Psalm 42 on the thirst for the Living God.
Anba Pavli talked about “The Bible, the Water of Life”. He highlighted the importance of the Bible as the Word of God that unites all Christians, stressing that the Church should always work to reach those who are far from God. Rev. Dr Safwat al-Bayadi talked about the significance of prayer for the unity Churches, even as each preserves its identity. He talked of the Christians persecuted at the hands of IS whose members, he said, we should pray for, as Jesus asked us to do.
Bishop Nicolas called on the attendants to pray for the safety and peace of the extremists who get killed, as well as for all victims of extremism.
Dr Ra’fat Helmy, Secretary of the Ecumenical Commission for the Youth of Egypt, said that this year should witness prayers for those who lost their lives at the hands of religious terrorists and owing to incidents of unrest, in addition to the usual annual prayers for the unity of the Churches and the nation.
Tuesday, the Evangelical church in Zeitoun, Cairo, hosted the second day of the week of prayer. The theme was “Toiling for the sake of the other”.
Today, Wednesday, Pope Tawadros hosts the prayer week event in his weekly prayer meeting at St Mark’s cathedral in Abassiya, Cairo. The day’s theme will be “Abandonment for the sake of the other”.
The themes for the other days of the week, which will be held at different Cairo churches, will run along “Helping the other”, “I and the other: giving one another”, “The other: The way to contentment”, “The other and I: A testimony of love”.
11 February 2015