Martyred Copts remembered in Westminster prayer service and CoE General Synod

Natalya Mihailova | 16 February 2016

The 21 Coptic Christians brutally executed in Libya one year ago remembered in a prayer service in the Palace of Westminster, during morning prayers at the Church of England General Synod, and in a Vespers Service at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in the United Kingdom.

A service of commemoration was held in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster on 10 February 2016. The service was attended by members of both Houses of Parliament and co-hosted by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church and The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Prayers were offered, along with a moment of silence, in memory of the 21 Copts at opening prayers of Church of England General Synod.

Speaking in memory of the 21 Copts Bishop Angaelos said: “One profound result and gift of this horrific act is that it brought people together. These men paid the ultimate price, but gave us a cause to advocate for all those persecuted; they also showed us that there was a level of evil that we must all stand in solidarity against, and a level of courage, faithfulness and defiance that we must all aspire to.”

Following the Westminster prayer service, The Lord Alton of Liverpool said: “It is especially important that we mark the anniversary of the brutal murder of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya a year ago, not only to keep them in our memory, but to remember and advocate for all those who continue to face persecution in the Middle East. What is happening to Christians and minorities in the region is nothing short of Genocide and we must not stand by and watch as whole communities are eradicated.”

After the service, The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin said: “In marking today we are sending a statement out to the world to say that these individuals are not forgotten. We remember them, we remember what happened to them, and we will forgive because we belong to God. I also hope that it is sending a message that we stand together.”

Bishop Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth, who also represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at the service, said: “Proclaiming the Christian Faith is very costly, and we remember a year ago when we heard the news of this terrible crime how shocking it was for the whole Church as it brought home the dangers that people are facing and the consequences of violence that is motivated by hatred of a particular religion.

It was good to see that this service was attended by people from both Houses and others because it sends a sign that this is of concern for the whole world and the whole Church. We have been told the stories of how these young men did not waver in their Faith, kept proclaiming Christ as they fell as martyrs, and that courage, that sheer strength of Faith in Christ, is an inspiration for all of us.”

Vespers prayers are being held today in the Cathedral of Saint George at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom in memory of the 21 Copts who lost their lives on 15 February 2015, also remembering their families and others who continue to suffer religious persecution around the world.

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