The first Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in London, Bishop Angaelos, told Premier he is praying that “a time of celebration isn’t turned into a time of mourning”.
There was fear that violence would hit the Christian community on Christmas Day on Sunday 7th January after believers have faced a tough year, including nine people shot in late December at a church.
There has been increased security around churches amidst attacks from ISIS specifically on the Christian community.
Speaking to Premier, Archbishop Angaelos said he is: “certainly concerned, there’s a much greater police and security presence in the streets and around the churches…people shouldn’t feel vulnerable when they’re going to church. What we do know is that the churches will be full, there is an incredible resilience and strength in the Coptic community.”
He said they are praying that “a time celebration doesn’t turn into a time of mourning, as we’ve seen not only in Egypt but in so many places and most recently in places like Pakistan during the Christmas celebrations”
Describing what it’s been like to be a Christian in the past year in Egypt, Archbishop Angealos said: “It’s in a very painful time, it’s the first time in our contemporary history we’ve seen bombings of churches – we’ve had three churches bombed in this last year, we’ve had churches attacked, people killed by gunfire attacks on worshipers as they were leaving, Christians attacked just for being christian, in their homes, in their shops and on the street.
“It has been a very focused time for persecution – just this year alone we’ve mourned over 130 people , just for being Christian and there may be more that will happen before we see these few days’ celebration out.”
When asked how Christians in the UK can pray for Egypt he asked for prayer for safety but also: “pray for Christians around the world, that they’re allowed to live there faith and general practice peacefully with the liberties that we have here…and continue to be a light in tthe world.”
Speaking of his hopes for 2018 were that “the light of Christ continues to shine” and that we are all a good example of Christians and a mirror of Christ’s light into the world.