February 3, 2011
Dear Members and Friends of St. Andrews,
We wanted to give you an update from Cairo during these days of challenge for our community and context.
Intern Pastor Paul Schick and I (along with our families and all other ELCA and PCUSA personnel serving in Egypt) were asked to go to the airport to participate in the US State Department’s evacuation plans. We arrived safely in Minnesota last night. Our planned return to Egypt will be an ongoing assessment by the ELCA as we maintain contact with St. Andrew’s members and staff and the ELCA’s partners on the ground.
Worship for this Friday (tomorrow) is again canceled. Worship at St. Andrew’s location needs to be considered carefully and on a week-by-week basis. Ian Baxter has volunteered to lead and coordinate worship as the situation allows. Each week, announcements regarding services will be available online through St. Andrew’s website and the newsletter list. In the event that internet again becomes unavailable, please contact Ian Baxter for service information: 016-450-7377. If problems with phone lines and internet prevent us from communicating service information, please err on the side of caution.
Due to our location across from the High Court buildings, St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo has seen much activity in our neighborhood: protesters, tear gas, gun fire, etc. A few nights ago, the church was broken into by looters, though it appears nothing valuable was taken from the property. The next day, members of the church took church valuables to their homes in several locations around Cairo for safe keeping. The facade of the Guild Hall and a few windows have been damaged by bullets. Although the door of the sacristy was broken, the sanctuary appears fine.
As for our refugee programs, we have suspended our Children Education Program, Adult Education Program and Resettlement Legal Aid Project until the conditions are safer.
And finally, we take heart that even as we are unable to be together in person, we remain united through the bond of Christ in love and prayer. And in these times of great anxiety and turbulence, we can find hope and courage in the words of the apostle Paul:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Pastor Peter Johnson and Intern Pastor Paul Schick