International Observance: Prayers with Coptic Christians

PEOPLE POWER IN THE STREETS: Confrontations sometimes turn into violent clashes with government forces. This crowd in Cairo holds a hand-lettered sign that says, “Go Away You Oppressor! Down with Mubarak!”JANUARY 31 through FEBRUARY 2: Revolutions are rattling across northern Africa (and sparking demonstrations in the Middle East). On Monday, ReadTheSpirit suggested that, since the majority of Americans are Christians, they might consider praying in solidarity with Christians across Africa—as a way to increase American awareness of that continent, overall. Also on Monday, the National Council of Churches issued a call to churches across the U.S. to pray specifically with Coptic Christians. We are sharing the NCC’s statement with our readers …


The member communions of the National Council of Churches are joining Christians in the Coptic Orthodox Church in North America in a three-day period of prayer and fasting to seek God’s presence amid the upheavals in Egypt.

The proclamation from the Coptic Orthodox Church in North America reads: “In response to the tragic events in our homeland of Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox bishops of North America have declared January 31 to February 2, 2011, as a period of fasting and prayer. During these days, we are to observe strict abstinence as any Wednesday or Friday. In addition, many churches will offer the celebration of the Divine Liturgy every day during this period to pray for peace and safety in Egypt for all our Egyptian brothers and sisters. May God remember the land of Egypt and her people.”

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, called upon NCC member communions “to honor this call from the Coptic Orthodox Church and to express their prayerful solidarity with all the people of Egypt, including the Christian minority and foreign service workers from the U.S. and other nations.” Kinnamon said he prayed that “the people of Egypt will experience a just and hopeful resolution of the current crisis.”

Also on January 31, the World Council of Churches based in Geneva, Switzerland, issued a statement of concern for the situation in Egypt: “Member churches in all parts of the world are praying for the people of Egypt. There are disturbing reports of increasing numbers of people being killed, of assaults and threats and of many living in fear. Our hopes and prayers are for the safety of citizens, for wisdom and compassion on the part of the authorities and for a non-violent and just resolution of conflicts and grievances.”

Kinnamon said the U.S. NCC joins with the World Council’s call “for peaceful dialogue and joint efforts at every level of society to find the way forward to a future that brings hope and security for the good of all people and communities … We pray to God for mercy and protection for the Egyptian people and for all religious communities, and we are standing together with the churches in these challenging times.”

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