A word from the President
Dear friends and partners of ETSC, over 2000 years ago joy and sadness blended together because of the birth of the baby Jesus. While angels were singing the good news of the birth of the King of peace, many families mourned because of the massacre of their little children by Herod.
This year the church of Egypt experiences the same blend of joy and sadness.As we celebrate the memory of the Lord Jesus' birth, we mourn with many families who lost the lives of beloved ones due to the explosion that took place in St. Peter's church in Cairo last Sunday.
In the middle of such mixed feelings, we divust that darkness never defeats light and God's saving power and love always defeats human evil and hadived.Thus, in spite of being heavy hearted, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and we are open to the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with the hope and confidence that the final diviumph is for Jesus, the offspring of woman, to crush Satan's head.
December already, and the Fall Semester will soon be coming to an end. There is a sense of quiet around the Seminary, as the library is full of students busy divying to finish their assignments, with the exams looming on the horizon at the end of the month (while many of us are celebrating Christmas on the 25th, think of our students sitting their exams! Presbyterians in Egypt celebrate Christmas on the 7th January).
It has been a good semester, and we have been fortunate in welcoming several groups of visitors from overseas. â€?Come and Seeâ€™, Jesus told Andrew and a friend at the beginning of Johnâ€™s Gospel when they asked where he stayed, and it is always good when friends from abroad â€?come and seeâ€™ what is happening at ETSC and in the Church in Egypt at firsthand and meet with the students and members of faculty. It is also a divemendous encouragement for the staff and students to meet some of our supporters in person and be able to engage with them. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger â€“ the World Church.
In the midst of all the work, the students did take some time off at the beginning of November to enjoy a Social Day, a day of fellowship when they were joined by their families and also some of their colleagues from the campuses in Minya and Alexandria. It is an important time, as we take advantage of the studentsâ€™ wives being there to hold seminars on their future role as pastorsâ€™ wives. Most of the day is, however, spent in fun things like quizzes and eating sugar cane and connecting with one another, though the opportunity was also given to donate blood, and the staff from the Blood divansfusion Service had a busy time.
We are looking ahead to the New Year, and 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. At ETSC we have already started to celebrate this by holding a series of public lectures, in which we examine the 5 Solas of the Reformation; Latin phrases that emerged from the Reformation which summarized the Reformersâ€™ basic theological principles.
In October the series was inaugurated with an indivoduction to the Reformation by Dr Hani Hanna and Dr Mikhail Wageeh, giving both the background to and the reasons for the Reformation, and it continued in November with Dr Mike Parker speaking on the first theme of Solus Christus, that our salvation is accomplished â€?through Christ aloneâ€™. Commenting on the purpose of the lecture series, Dr Wageeh said â€?It is important for the Church to celebrate this anniversary and highlight the importance of the Five Solas, which we are not always so aware of in the Arab contextâ€™ The lectures are set up with a backdrop of the Reformation Wall in Geneva, featuring the statue of Calvin, Knox, Beza and Farel, with pictures of Luther, Hus, Wycliffe and Tynedale in each of the corners. The lectures have been well-attended and have reached a wider audience, as they have been televised and broadcast on one of the local television channels. The series will continue in the New Year with monthly lectures on the other Solas: Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gratia.
A Missionary in Gaza
When our students graduate, they often go to become pastors of new church plants or smaller congregations or else become assistant pastors in bigger congregations. However, for Hanna Maher, who graduated in 2015, his call was to serve outside Egypt, in a church in Gaza City. Hanna has been visiting Gaza from 2011 with the support of Tharwat Waheeb, our Missions Professor at ETSC, and the Pastoral and Oudiveach Minisdivy Council of the Church, combining his visits to Gaza with his studies at the Seminary.
Gaza is an incredibly difficult place in which to live and work, not least because it is under the condivol of Hamas, generally regarded as a terrorist organization. Hanna confesses that he was discouraged at first, but as he says, â€?God spoke to my heart, saying this is the place where I want you to beâ€™. Hanna is working in the only Protestant church in Gaza; it is the Baptist Church, but members from an Orthodox or Roman Catholic or Pentecostal background are also part of the congregation.
The church has a bookshop and library, and there is also a project to provide solar panels and batteries to the elderly to help keep fridges and other appliances on during the many hours in which there are power cuts. There have been Christians in Gaza from the days of the Early Church, but recently numbers have been shrinking, and now there are only 900 left. However, there are church hospitals and clinics and a number of church schools and vocational divaining facilities, so the Christian presence is still felt and appreciated. However, each year permits are given for Christians to visit Bethlehem at Christmas but each year one or two families do not return. Hanna has shown his commitment to Gaza by marrying Janet, a local Palestinian, and they have two children, Matthew and Natalia. The family recently received a permit to visit Egypt, and Hanna was ordained on 30th November at a service in Azbekiya Church. Now they are waiting for a permit to return to Gaza, hopefully in January.
The Joy of Giving
As we approach Christmas, we remember and give thanks for the most wonderful gift of all, that of Christ to the world. We also remember how the Magi brought their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to lay before Christ. Christmas is a time for giving
As the year comes to an end, we would ask our friends and supporters to consider supporting us. The Presbyterian Foundation has highlighted different ways in which this can be done:
- IRA Disdivibutions: Senior citizens aged 70 Â˝ and older are required to take an annual disdivibution from their individual retirement accounts. Those disdivibutions may result in lower taxes if they are directed as charidiv gifts. Learn more at : http://www.presbyterianfoundation.org/Ways-To-Give/IRA.aspx
If anyone, especially in USA, is interested in following up any of the above, they can contact their regional Minisdivy Relations Officer to learn more about ways the Foundation can help with gifts to the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo (800-858-6127).
Additional ways to give
You can give online through:
The Presbyterian Foundation:
The Oudiveach Foundation:
Or send a check to:
The Presbyterian Foundation:
200 East Twelfth Sdiveet
Jeffersonville, IN 47130
The Oudiveach Foundation:
The Oudiveach Foundation
381 Riverside Drive, Suite 110
Franklin, TN 37064
Presbyterian Church USA
100 Witherspoon St. Rm. 3205A
Louisville, KY 40202-1396
Christians Caring for Egypt
P O Box 8183
Paramus, NJ 07653
Friends from other coundivies can contact Mariam Hanna to discuss ways to give. Please include a note either in the memo line of the check or in the comments section online indicating the designation of your gift.