“For in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith.” —Galatians 3:26
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We Fall to our Knees with You: Statement Against Recent Grave Injustices
The National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is grieved and angered along with our African American sisters and brothers because of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others. As a Middle Eastern community, we stand in solidarity with all people of color seeking justice through actions, not just words and promises. It is time for all communities to unite not only in prayer, but also in tangible ways that support, protect, uplift, and advocate for those who have been suffering from systemic racism, injustice, oppression, and discrimination throughout the entire history of this country. We reject all forms of dehumanization, discrimination, and violence against people who are created in the image of God. We affirm the inherent value of all human beings, and their right to the breath of life given to us by God.
The NMEPC urges lawmakers and the leaders of the United States to take practical steps towards equal opportunities of living, education, and health. We urge law enforcement to protect and serve with integrity, and to condemn and punish officers who abuse their power. Silence or inaction in the face of injustice, discrimination, and oppression is unacceptable. Our African American siblings, we hear you. We see you. We love you. We grieve with you. We weep with you. We fall to our knees with you. We stand with you. We walk with you. We are committed to doing the hard work of listening, educating ourselves more, having uncomfortable conversations, pushing for law reform, and working together for a more just and equitable society.
Rev. Sameh Shaker, Moderator
National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus
From Rhashell Hunter
Director, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM)
There is a rich heritage and history of Middle Eastern Intercultural Ministries in the PC(USA). There are currently more than 50 Middle Eastern Presbyterian congregations and fellowships in the United States worshiping in the Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian and Farsi languages. Presbyterian Middle Eastern Americans trace the origin of their faith to the apostolic age and their Reformed roots to Presbyterian mission in the Middle East in the 19th Century.
Today, Middle Eastern Intercultural Ministries works in partnership with congregations and mid councils to assist in the development and growth of new Middle Eastern worshiping communities and to equip leaders in existing Middle Eastern congregations for effective ministry in the church.
We also partner with the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) to coordinate leadership training events, equip Middle Eastern Presbyterians to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, identify social justice inequities and act as a bridge for dialogue, promoting educational and cultural understanding of Middle Eastern issues. Rev. Magdy Girgis is field staff for Middle Eastern Intercultural Ministries in Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries. Following are some of his reflections:
A Beautiful Tapestry
by Magdy Girgis, Associate, Middle Eastern Intercultural Congregational Support
As field staff, I have the privilege of going around, as free as a bird, to see God in action. I can see that God really is the sustainer and upholder of the world.
I could see a new worshiping community where the pastor and his wife get in their cars early Sunday morning and pick up refugees from their homes to bring them to the church for worship. You can see the smiles on these worshipers’ faces as they restart their lives and get to practice their faith again in a new place and new culture.
During worship, they all engage in from-the-heart singing, and as the pastor shares the Word of God, you can see its effect on their faces. After worship, everyone puts out the food they brought from home, and the congregation eats together with gladness and singleness of heart. “Where did I hear that before?” I could see images and colors woven together in a beautiful story, skillfully woven, in a beautiful tapestry. These people entered God’s story with their own story, and they can see that God really is the sustainer and upholder of the world.
Dr. Safwat Marzouk, a Middle Eastern Emigrant Scholar,
wrote about “The Intercultural Church”
“Safwat Marzouk offers a biblical vision for what it means to be an intercultural church, one that fosters just diversity, integrates different cultural articulations of faith and worship, and embodies an alternative to the politics of assimilation and segregation. A church that fosters intercultural identity learns how to embrace and celebrate difference, which in turn enriches its worship and ministry. While the church in North America might see migration as an opportunity to serve God’s kingdom by showing hospitality to the migrant and the alien, migration offers the church an opportunity to renew itself by rediscovering the biblical vision of the church as a diverse community. This biblical vision views cultural, linguistic, racial, and ethnic differences as gifts from God that can enrich the church’s worship, deepen the sense of fellowship in the church, and broaden the church’s witness to God’s reconciling mission in the world.
Today’s church faces the challenge of what it means to be church in the light of the ever-growing diversity of the population. This may entail advocacy work on behalf of the undocumented, asylum seekers, and refugees, but the church also faces the question of how to welcome the stranger, the migrant, and the refugee into the heart of the worshipping community. This may mean changing worship, leadership, or ministry styles to embrace diverse communities in the church’s neighborhood. Marzouk surveys numerous biblical texts from the early ancestor stories of Israel to the Prophets, to the Gospels and Acts, the letters of Paul, and Revelation. The stories introduce themes of welcoming strangers, living as aliens, playing host to outsiders, discovering true worship, and seeking common language for expressing faith. Discussion questions are provided to encourage conversation on this complex and important topic.”
About Magdy Girgis
Rev. Dr. Magdy B. Girgis serves as the part-time field staff for Middle Eastern Ministries. His responsibilities include working in partnership with mid councils to develop and grow Middle Eastern new worshiping communities and their leadership. In addition, he identifies social justice inequities and acts as a bridge for dialogue, promoting educational and cultural understanding of Middle Eastern issues in partnership with the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus and other groups. Magdy is a board-certified chaplain at Vitas Hospice Care in California. In addition to English, Magdy speaks his native language, Arabic.
Magdy brings to this position the characteristics of leadership development, communication skills, partnership, wide and diverse administrative experiences, and proficiency in various fund development efforts. He is committed to understanding the goal of igniting the movement to grow 1001 new worshiping communities “by investing a good time of my life in leading missions and developing local evangelism, which is what my life is centered around because it is my passion.”