During our time with the church in Cairo we noticed that in the Diocesan offices are pictures of some previous bishops going back over 100 years. They have very British sounding names. The world they knew has changed enormously.
At the English speaking service at All Saints' Cathedral on Sunday morning, Bertie and I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Mouneer Anis, recently retired Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East. We also came across a young English lay reader, James Taylor, who is soon to return to the UK. I joined him at St Michael's for the evening service. I travelled across town on the metro seeing a bit more of this vast city.
The service, held in Arabic, gave an indication of the health of the Diocese today. A young man was licensed as a lay reader, to the obvious delight of his wife, family and friends. Three adults were confirmed. Music was led by young people playing a variety of instruments, it was lively and joyful. Naturally, Archbishop Samy led proceedings, assisted by Archdeacon Imad and various other clergy and readers. We also watched a video clip of the moment at the Lambeth Conference when Archbishop Justin Welby presented Archbishop Samy with the cross of the new Province of Alexandria, supported by a Coptic Archbishop. It was all very encouraging. Afterwards the congregation mingled outside in the church grounds over tea and coffee.
James impressed me with his Arabic fluency and his commitment to building relationships here. What was more striking was the overall sense I got of the health and vigour of the Diocese of Egypt. No doubt there is no shortage of challenges to contend with, but this seems to be a church imaginatively and energetically engaged in the work of ministry today.