UCC, Disciples executives share solidarity, sympathy with Egyptian partners after ISIS executions
Executives of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joined world leaders in mourning the murders of 21 Egyptian Christians, kidnapped by militant Islamists in Libya and executed earlier this week. Amid the anxiety of the most recent killings, those executives reaffirmed their solidarity and expressed condolences to leaders of Egypt’s Christian community.
“We were alarmed and saddened, looking with you and surely with their families for answers after this senseless act. We join you in mourning and in prayer for their souls,” said the Rev. James A. Moos and the Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, co-executives of Global Ministries, the shared ministry between the UCC and DoC, in a letter to Egyptian Christian communities on Wednesday, Feb. 18.
The letter was addressed to Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, and the Rev. Safwat al-Biady and the Rev. Andrea Zaki, president and vice president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt. The 21 victims, who were Coptic Orthodox Christians, were shown in a video of a mass execution by militants of the “Islamic State” (ISIS). The militant group has gained control of large areas in Syria and Iraq, but this latest video of the brutal beheadings of almost a dozen Christians could indicate ISIS, or an ISIS affiliate, has emerged in Northern Africa.
The letter was just made public, since it is a policy of Global Ministries to carefully consider the implications of public witness regarding international concerns, so as to be sensitive to the implications they may have on partners.
Moos and Brown Karimu condemned religiously-motivated killings, telling the Egyptian partners “no faith justifies such violence.” “We are keenly aware, too, that throughout history, religion has been manipulated to justify such heinous acts, with innocent people falling victim,” they added.
“Our ties of partnership in the Middle East, and certainly around the world, are strong and enduring in times of crisis and of joy,” said Peter Makari, Global Ministries area executive for the Middle East and Europe. “We trust our partners know of our solidarity, whether it expressed publicly or by other means. The relationships are constant.”
Global Ministries has long time partnerships with Coptic Christian organizations in Egypt. The Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), which began as a literacy project in 1950 is one of them. CEOSS, one of Egypt’s largest development organizations, provides integrated approaches to poor communities in areas of economic, agricultural and environmental development, health care, and education.
“We know that the history of Egypt is replete with examples of Christian and Muslim solidarity, a bond that has not been broken,” the letter concludes. “Al-Azhar has stated that these murders are ‘barbaric,’ that no religion would accept such acts. We trust that Egypt’s Muslims and Christians will find common cause against such violence, just as we work with American Muslims to respond to acts of religiously-motivated bigotry and hatred.”
Read the full letter from Global Ministries on its website.
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