FRIENDS OF THE ANGLICAN PROVINCE OF ALEXANDRIA
Registered Charity No.1181201 – formerly the Egypt Diocesan Association
Supporting Churches in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti
FAPA Newsletter – September 2020
Dear members and friends of FAPA,
The name may have changed, but not our mission – to support (befriend) the clergy, churches and ministries in the former Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, recently transformed into the Province of Alexandria.
It will take some time for the Primate to make the necessary organisational changes and establish the four new Dioceses: Egypt, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Gambella. What I can say is that Bishop Mouneer, now an Archbishop, has agreed to stay in post for a 12 month period to assist the transition before handing over to Bishop Samy Fawzy.
The administrative changes required by our transition from EDA to FAPA are being progressed. The changes to our Constitution have been agreed by the Charity Commission and our new title registered with our Bank. I am pleased to confirm that members do not have to alter their Standing Order or Gift Aid Forms, but correspondence and new cheques etc. should now be addressed to FAPA, not EDA. We are in the process of designing a new web site and in due course we will have a new domain and email addresses. This is going to take some time, not least because our Secretary is managing this task with help from a working mum (his daughter) undertaking the work voluntarily! Oh, and new logo is also being commissioned ….. yes, Doug, it is a necessity!
We plan to ‘relaunch’ FAPA with a recruiting drive for new members later this year- but please do start thinking, now, about individuals and indeed churches who you might introduce to FAPA. The EDA website continues to be a splendid source of information – FAPA Membership Application forms etc. can be obtained by emailing email@example.com – and I can also email the EDA Power Point presentation. Finally, a plea for funds… have you paid your annual Membership Subscription? Can you possibly increase it this year? Judith, our Treasurer would love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE, the Bishop of Lichfield, who has agreed to be our new Patron, Archbishop Sentamu having retired. Bishop Michael grew up in a small village in Northamptonshire. He studied mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford, and trained for the ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford after a year spent working in a factory in Birmingham. He was ordained Deacon in 1982 and Priest in 1983 in the Dicoese of Peterborough. After more than 20 years ministry in Leicestershire and Japan, he became Archdeacon of Southwark
in 2004. He was also Canon Missioner at Southwark Cathedral from 2010 to 2012 and was Chair of the Southwark and London Diocesan Housing Association, and Anglican Borough Dean of Southwark. Prior to this he had been Inter Faith Relations Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary of the Churches’ Commission on Inter Faith Relations. Bishop Michael was awarded the OBE in the new year’s honours list in 2011 for services to inter-faith relations in London. From 2012 to 2016 he was Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark. He chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, and is Co-Chair of the Anglican-Lutheran Society and of the Church of England’s Mission Theology Advisory Group. Bishop Michael has written extensively on inter-faith issues and on questions of religion and human rights. He has edited 6 volumes on Christian-Muslim relations, is the author of Trinity and Inter Faith Dialogue (Peter Lang, 2003), and has contributed about 30 journal articles and book chapters. He is married to Dr Julia Ipgrave, and they have 3 grown up sons.
We are also pleased to announce that Archbishop Mouneer will become Co-Patron on his retirement as Bishop of Egypt.
Why Become a Province? In June last year Bishop Mouneer published an excellent illustrated report entitled ‘Sowing and Reaping’ which answers this question – it can now be down loaded from the Diocese of Egypt website – www.dioceseofegypt.org It is an exciting read and I commend it to you.
We learn that the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa has rapidly grown in an unexpected way, especially in Egypt and the Horn of Africa. The number of churches in Ethiopia has grown from seven in 2000 to over 140! In the Diocese as a whole, the approximate number of Anglicans in 1976 was 2000 – today there are over 15,000 worshipping in 172 congregations (up from 18) The current number of ordained clergy is 61 – a tenfold increase since 1976. This growth in the Diocese over the last decade, in particular, is a cause for great joy. The formation of a new Province is indeed justified – Praise the Lord!
New Trustee We were delighted to welcome Helen Fraser, elected as a new Trustee at our virtual AGM in June. Helen informed us that ‘after over a decade in business development in industry, I sensed a calling to the Middle East, and in 2003 moved to Egypt and lived in Cairo, serving the Anglican Province of Alexandria under the auspices of the Church Mission Society. Initially, as PA to Bishop Mouneer Anis, and then as the Development
Officer for the Alexandria School of Theology, and latterly as the Funding Training Manager for EpiscoCare. Earlier this year, I moved back to England, and was thrilled to be asked to serve as a trustee of FAPA, and continue to support the Province in this capacity.’
Helen has News from the Alexandria School of Theology
Recently staff and faculty convened at Villa Paty near Alexandria, a much loved venue for conferences, to plan for the sixteenth academic year amidst the pandemic – another challenging set of circumstances, given a few years back AST chartered a path through the revolution, commonly known as the Arab Spring or now Autumn.
In spite of Covid restrictions, AST has received around fifty applications from prospective students to study on the Bachelor in Theology (BTh) Programme at one of the three campuses in Egypt, and are currently being interviewed by faculty. The classes are due to commence on 17th September in Alexandria, 24th in Cairo and 8th October in Menya. AST has welcomed three new members of staff to assist with administration and fundraising.
For AST, like other academic institutions around the world, Covid-19 has impacted the delivery of courses, including the re-scheduling of the next MA module to be taught by the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (Rapid Springs, Colorado), as well as the timing of the next phase of ‘on-campus’ PhD studies for some AST faculty. Shady Anis, the academic coordinator, and his family will be moving to Cambridge this autumn, to commence his PhD studies researching, “Thomas Cranmer’s doctrine of Covenant”.
AST will be celebrating the graduation of twenty students with a BTh at a service in All Saints Cathedral on 26th September, and are delighted that ten students graduated from the Nuba Bible Institute Cairo last month. Five of whom will be returning to Sudan.
Michael, Hon Secretary email@example.com
By Bishop Bill The Church of Ethiopia
During the coronavirus-related “lockdown” of earlier this year, I read a fascinating book – The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia: a History by John Binns. Canon John is Visiting Professor at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge. For many years he was parish priest of Great St Mary’s, the University Church, Cambridge, which is where I met him in May, 2016 when I delivered that term’s university sermon.
Whilst serving as Area Bishop for North Africa prior to retirement, I greatly appreciated the collegiality of Bishops Andrew Proud and Grant leMarquand and their energy and vision for the growth of the Anglican expression of church in Ethiopia, especially in the Gambella region. Between the departure of Bishop Andrew and the arrival of Bishop Grant, Bishop Mouneer asked Hilary and me to pay a pastoral visit to Addis Ababa and Gambella. This we did in September 2011, and what an eye-opening visit it was! Apart from performing over 150 confirmations in two churches on one day, it was amazing to witness the strategic ministry functioning at St Matthew’s, Addis Ababa, the development of the Anglican Centre in Gambella town and some of the evangelistic and relief work plus theological training going on amongst refugee communities on the border with Sudan.
That trip brings to mind the number of colleagues, personally known to us, who have served at some stage at St Matthew’s, Addis Ababa. I recall the regular visits of Rev Charles Sherlock and Fr Colin Battell OSB to diocesan synods during the years 1981-1986 when I was serving my title at All Saints’ Cathedral, Cairo. In more recent years, Rev Roger Kay and his wife Lynn, Rosemary Burke and representatives of the churches in Gambella like Rev Jeremiah Paul and others, have shared in gatherings in Egypt that we also attended from Tunis. Over recent years, the EDA/FAPA has been kept well-informed by members and visiting speakers from that area of the diocese.
For someone, then, with a great respect for clergy and others whom I know who have worked in, or been associated with, various aspects of recent life in Ethiopia, John Binns’ book is exactly what I needed to read. He offers an engaging introduction to the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawehedo Church. That ancient church is described against a background canvas of the history, culture, and politics of the Ethiopian landscape from pre-Christian times through to modern attempts at colonization, to the secularising experience of the Derg (1974-1991) plus various periods of Protestant (including Anglican) missionary activity.
The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia is the only pre-colonial church in sub-Saharan Africa, originating in one of the earliest Christian kingdoms – with its king Ezana (supposedly descended from the biblical Solomon) converting around AD340 via the witness of Frumentius. Since then it has helped maintain Ethiopia’s Christian, monarchical society in a region that came to be dominated by Islam. Nation and church survived later, European attempts to dominate them. The monarchy of Emperor Haile Selassie eventually disappeared through the coup of 1971 and church lands were confiscated by the new government. In 1991, a fully secular state was established: the ancient church lost its position as main provider of education in the country. Other denominations, especially evangelical churches, have grown in recent years to constitute about 20% of the population. In 2012, a Pentecostal Christian from the south of Ethiopia became leader of the government. Nevertheless, today, claims Binns, the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia has a membership of around forty million and is in rapidly-growing mode.
Binn’s book explains this history and its outworkings in the life of the Christian people of Ethiopia. He discusses the famous rock-hewn churches; the Ark of the Covenant (claimed by the Church and housed in Aksum); the medieval monastic tradition; relations with the Coptic Church (of Egypt); co-existence with Islam; missionary activity; and the Church’s strong oral traditions, especially the discipline of qene – a kind of theological reflection couched in a unique style of improvised allegorical poetry. He focuses especially on how the Church has been forced to re-think its identity and mission as a result of political changes and upheaval following the overthrow of Haile Selassie and reaching until today.
Binns offers a potted history of Anglican work in the country as an example of how “mission” by nonOrthodox church groups has been conceived, practiced, revised and developed. He contrasts the approaches of (CMS missionaries) Samuel Gobat and Christian Kugler – today we would probably speak of varying degrees of contextualisation in their different approaches to mission. Ethelstan Cheese was the first Anglican chaplain to be sent to Addis Ababa: “He proved to be an unreliable chaplain but a remarkable evangelist”. Cheese lasted for one year as a chaplain but for well over two decades in the country as a sort of wandering “holy man”. Canon Philip Cousins has written a biography, well worth reading, of this “peripatetic friar” in his witness – especially in the Somali region of Ethiopia. In more recent times the question of whether Ethiopians should be received into Anglican congregations has been an issue of considerable tension, with different Anglican leaders proposing opposing convictions and practices. Binns notes that the recent, massive growth of Anglican ministry and church formation in the Gambella region has caused a significant shift in theological position on this issue of relationships with indigenous, Orthodox Christians: “The desire of the church to serve its members, especially students who travel to other parts of the country, and also others attracted to the distinct Anglican mix of liturgical order and an evangelical biblical message has led to a revision of its previous reticence to receive Ethiopians into the church”.
It is such a privilege for us in FAPA to be associated with a province with such extensive diversity of context and conviction, yet with parallel issues throughout its vast reach that need to be faced in fulfilling its role as Christ’s witness.
St Luke’s Church, Gambella