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Ruling: Evangelical Church Association now controls Episcopal/Anglican Church in Egypt

Ruling: Evangelical Church Association now controls Episcopal/Anglican Church in Egypt

Anglican News reports:

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis, has called on Anglicans to pray and advocate with their local Egyptian consulates and embassies after a court ruling effectively subsumed the diocese into a separate denominational body. Dr Anis, who is also the Archbishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, told ACNS that the Evangelical Church Association (ECA) has been laying claim to the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt for several years. Now, after a 14-year legal battle, a court has ruled that the Anglican Church in Egypt belongs to the ECA and can only be represented by the ECA President.

“This preposterous claim did not just stop there,” Dr Anis said. “They further claimed that they can take possession of all of the Episcopal/Anglican Church properties as their own. They are now forcing us to take their approval before we notarise any document in the government. Moreover, we need to receive the approval of the ECA before we ask immigration to grant or renew visas to our workers. This is causing us a great deal of trouble.”

The Anglican church has had a presence in Egypt since the early 1800s; the first church was built in 1839 on land donated by the Governor of Egypt, as “a foreign church for the English-speaking community in the country”; today, most services are conducted in Arabic and the congregations are primarily Egyptian. There will be a new hearing next week, on November 1.

In a prayer letter to supporters, Dr Anis said that the diocese was “under heavy attack” from the ECA, which is a Presbyterian denomination. “For more than two hundred years, the government recognised us as an independent denomination, but now the ECA is asking the different governmental offices not to deal with us directly but through them.”

The standing committee of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, of which the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa is a part, and the bishops of the province are united in opposing the ECA’s actions. They “rejected the idea of having one diocese in the Province to be under another denomination,” Dr Anis said. A letter from the Province has been sent to the President of Egypt and to Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, in a bid to resolve the issue.

Image: Archbishop Mouneer Anis with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in 2013, from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.



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Pamela Shier

Thank you, Ann Fontaine. Yes, historically Muslim governments have not wanted to deal with multiple Protestant bodies. In most countries and the two in which I served, Oman and Qatar, the umbrella Protestant organization and landholder is the Episcopal/Anglican Church. This recent ruling gives a great deal of power to the Presbyterians to make financial, legal, property and personnel decisions.

Ann Fontaine

Here is the history of this development:
*The Episcopal Church in Egypt has always been considered one of the Protestant Churches within the Protestant Federation, which is led by the Presbyterian Church, the largest Protestant (non-Coptic Orthodox Church) in Egypt. So historically the government only saw two official “Churches”…the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Protestant Church (Presbyterian Church….and all other Protestant churches were under that umbrella). Bishop Mouneer tried to change that when he was elected bishop and built an effective a case that that Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt was distinct from the other Protestant Churches there and should be seen as a separate entity. Under Mubarak’s last ten years, the Episcopal/Angican Diocese of Egypt was able to act in the eyes of the government as a separate third body. However, that recent “history” of practice is facing renewed challenges in the present, where some in the government are referring back as to the way it had originally been.

David Carver

Huh. Thank you – That’s interesting. How do they handle the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches there, I wonder?

Paul Woodrum

But on what legal basis could one denomination claim the property of another denomination? Or is this the Egyptian government messing with Christians? Something is missing in this report.

JC Fisher

If the fight has been going on 14 years, it seems to have long preceded the current government. I agree that the report is frustratingly brief.

At any rate, another “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” Fail. 🙁

Dann Brown

Power and property. That’s what “evangelicals” want when they claim Episcopal churches here. This doesn’t look any different.

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