Celebrating generations of partnership between the PC(USA) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt (EPCE) and its related ministries, the Egypt Partnership Network (EPN) exists to facilitate communication, promote partnership opportunities with ministries and congregations, and to mutually encourage each other's faith.
From across the country, Presbyterians with a heart for Egypt gathered in early August of 2015 at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to discuss the formation of a network to support God’s mission in Egypt and the region. The PC(USA) has a long-standing partnership with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt (aka Synod of the Nile) and its Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC). In an effort to create additional support for the partnership with these organizations, the meeting participants elected to form the Egypt Partnership Network (EPN).
Meeting attendees heard compelling updates directly from Egyptian church leaders. Rev. Dr. Tharwat Wahba traveled from Cairo to attend the meeting. He shared extensively over two days about the outreach opportunities in a post-revolution Egypt. Rev. Dr. Wahba currently serves as the Professor of Missions and Department Chair at the seminary in Cairo, as well as serving as the Chairperson of the Council on Ministry and Outreach for The Synod of the Nile.
Rev. Dr. Wahba said: “The Middle East is changing and the Church is in the heart of this change. The strategic state of the Egyptian Church gives it the privilege and responsibility to lead not only Egypt but also the Middle East to spread the message of the Gospel of hope and peace. The partnership between Egyptian and American Presbyterians could be a historical, dynamic and effective model that benefits the Kingdom of God.”
ETSC was founded in 1863 on the houseboat Ibis, which was used as a floating seminary for theological studies and practical training. The Seminary has been growing and spreading the Gospel in Egypt for over 150 years. Christians currently represent approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population. Recent studies conducted by the ETSC conclude that more that 70% of those Christian Egyptians do not have access to a church. For legal and cultural reasons, a congregation must have a dedicated building for worship and church activities. The current opportunities for growth of the church in Egypt are preparing enough pastors for communities with no trained church leader and funding to construct new church buildings or renovate old or damaged churches.
Participants attending the inaugural meeting for the Egypt Partnership Network collaborated to establish the Network, and, together, a Purpose Statement was established, noted above.
The Egypt Partnership Network is now one of forty such networks related to Presbyterian World Mission that provide a community where PC(USA) mission participants, global partners and World Mission staff come together to collaborate in a common mission passion. Since the first meeting in August, members of the EPN have begun working together to discern how God would use this collaboration for God’s Mission in Egypt.
“World Mission-related networks provide opportunities for Presbyterians to be directly involved in the work of God’s Mission,” says Amgad Beblawi, coordinator for the Middle East in World Mission. “As the Middle East goes through one of the most difficult times in modern history, the Presbyterian church in Egypt is playing a key role in nurturing and invigorating Christian presence in the region. The EPN provides a venue for all Presbyterians to come alongside those sisters and brother who witness to God’s Kingdom of justice, peace, and reconciliation to the hurting peoples of the Middle East.”