wataninet.com - The church of the Holy Virgin and Mar-Girgis (St George) in the village of Sheikh Alaa’ in Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, was founded in 2015, and is the only church in the village. It was established without licence, owing to the near impossibility of obtaining licence despite the dire need for a church in the village. The church is housed in a 170 sq.m two-storey building which Minya bishopric purchased in 2014. The first floor incudes a reception hall and offices; the second includes the church.

Once the building was purchased, the bishopric renovated it and started preparing the upper floor to serve as a church. It was almost ready to receive worshippers in 2015, when extremist Muslim villagers waged an attack against it, destroying a large portion of the interior and furnishings. The police hastened to close the building under the pretext of avoiding violence against the Copts, but caught no culprit.

The building remained closed till last month when the priest Fr Moussa Thabet, encouraged by the 2016 law for building churches, decided to reopen it. He held Mass there; it was attended by hundreds of villagers who were happy to finally be able to worship in a place in their village. But the same extremists who had attacked the church two years ago attacked it again. Again, the police decided to close the building and, again, no culprit was caught.

This time, however, the Copts refused to leave the church and, in a gesture of protest, some 70 of them conducted a sit-in inside the church. Since the police refused to allow anything to be handed to the protestors, the neighbours started throwing to them food and drink on the church rooftop from neighbouring rooftops.

An arrangement was reached with the police whereby the women and children were made to leave the church and go home, then most of the men left too; now only Fr Moussa remains in the building with three deacons. The police allow foodstuffs in, but no one is allowed to go in to them, nor are they allowed to leave. Fr Moussa prays daily Mass with the deacons.

A church said that, according to the law for building churches, the bishopric has filed an official application to legalise the status of the church, but no decision has so far been taken on that score.

Watani International
25 October 2017

Link and Photos: http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/minya-priest-conducts-sit-in-in-his-closed-church/21772/


Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

I pray Thee, compassionate Lord, do not allow me to be condemned because of the unworthy and ungrateful manner in which I contemplate the great mysteries that Thou hast revealed to Thy saints and through them to me, a sinner and Thy unworthy servant. For see, Lord, Thy servant stands before Thee, idle in everything, speechless, as one who is dead; and I do not dare to say anything more or to presumptuously contemplate further. But as always I fall down before Thee, crying from the depths of my soul. . . .

St. Peter of Damascus