It is more important than ever before for the Church to stand together, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK has said.
Bishop Angaelos made his remarks as he hosted the first ever meeting between Orthodox, Coptic and Pentecostal church leaders in Britain. Monday’s “unprecedented” gathering was hailed as a “momentous and significant meeting point” in a wider move towards improving ecumenical relations.
“There is such value in collaboration, and this historic meeting is the first of its kind in England, the United Kingdom, and possibly worldwide,” said Angaelos.
“While we all come from our particular backgrounds and theological understanding, today is a day to build bridges and to strengthen them.”
The meeting of church leaders at the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre was organised by Angaelos alongside Bishop Dr Eric Brown from the New Testament Church of God and The Very Revd Archpriest Maxim Nikolsky of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Bishop Brown praised the “historic” day while another Pentecostal bishop, Dr Joe Aldred, hinted at further similar gatherings.
“Today marks a momentous and significant meeting point and a beginning I hope of a lasting fellowship and friendship between leaders. I hope that we can develop a better understanding of what Christians around the world are experiencing, and continue to dialogue and take action where possible together,” he said.
Angaelos is a regular advocate for persecuted Christians and thousands of Copts have fled persecution in the Middle East in the last two years. He went on to say it was important to stand against injustice people are facing “regardless of their faith or ethnicity”.
He said: “In seeing the persecution of our brothers and sisters around the world, and in speaking about mission, we must recognise that this is a time, more than ever, for us to stand together.”
The three Churches agreed to work together to “tackle national and international issues of concern, including religious freedom in England, and the Middle East”.