On Friday evening, the 19th March, 2010, hundreds of members of the Coptic Orthodox Church and several other non-coptic denominations including, Ethiopian Orthodox, Melkite, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and Assyrian Churches, gathered at Martin Place in Sydney for a Candlelight prayer vigil. The aim of the vigil was to honour and commemorate the Christian martyrs in Egypt and to pray for all those Christians who are suffering in Egypt and around the globe.
The night began at 7pm sharp, with an opening prayer by the Vicar of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney , Father Tadros Simon, followed by an opening prayer from the Hon. Reverend Fred Nile leader of the Christian Democratic Party. This was preceded by an opening speech by the Reverend Tara Curlewis, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches Australia and the Australian National Anthem. Following on was a speech from Mr. Amir Chahine, General Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and an introductory speech by the youth of the Australian Coptic Movement.
At the conclusion of the introductory speeches, there was an extended period of hymns, sung by the Coptic and Ethiopian choirs, including the choirs of St Mary’s and St Mina’s Cathedral of Bexley, St Mark’s Cathedral of Arnclife, St Abanoub church of Blacktown and St Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox of Kings Park. This was then followed by brief segue speeches, commemorating certain watershed incidences in the modern era, regarding Coptic martyrdom. Distinguished guests including non-Coptic clergymen and politicians all presented these speeches, highlighting these specific atrocities.
When these speeches and hymns closed, a solo hymn was sung by a member of the youth, with the crowd following on. This was then accompanied by a 15 minute video presentation, detailing not only the attacks at Nagaa Hammadi on the 06/01/2010, but also the daily persecution of Copts in Egypt. The presentation was extremely moving and brought several members of the vigil to tears.
Accordingly, two powerful speeches were delivered by one of the Coptic reverend fathers, Father Shenouda Mansour and Dr. David Clarke MLC. Both speeches further stirred emotion and piqued the night with their impassioned comments. The messages in both speeches, clearly being that the atrocities being committed will no longer be tolerated and that action must be taken. The Reverend Fred Nile also delivered a moving speech with the same undercurrent, presenting a strong, political and religious front to those watching the vigil. Additionally, the closing prayers delivered by the Reverend Tara Curlewis were in the same vain.
The night was a huge success on many levels. There was a sizeable turnout of people, given the circumstances of the night and the short notice. The program was well laid out and there were no issues to be had whatsoever. The presence of dignitaries and distinguished guests ensured that there was clout in this vigil, and finally, the presence of the people themselves drove this vigil to the success that it was. Those who had come from work, those who had work the following day, pregnant women, women with children, the elderly and those with disabilities all coming along and showing their support, not only displayed the passion these people have, but also the determination to support the Coptic diocese of Sydney and the Australian Coptic Movement in bringing about justice to the oppressed.
On behalf of ACM and the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney and its Affiliated Regions, we thank our distinguished guests, dignitaries, volunteers, organisers, the people and importantly the Lord, for affording us a successful night. We pray for a holy Passion Week and Feast of the Cross, and just as Christ cried out to his Father during his time of need, so do we, in time of our persecuted brothers’ and sisters’ needs.
Please pray for us, and may god accept our prayers that were on behalf of the oppressed Christians.