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Building Bridges

Reconciliation is surely at the heart of any Christian mission, and the Anglican Diocese of Egypt has a very individual take on it.

After what is locally referred to as the ‘Egyptian Revolution’ in 2011, during which President Hosni Mubarak was deposed, and which the world witnessed with protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo lasting eighteen days, Egyptian society became very polarized. This was a matter of great concern to the then bishop of Egypt, bishop Mouneer, and he had a vision of how things might change for the rising generation. He felt that there was a great opportunity for the church to play a reconciling part in society because it already had a role in Egyptian life through its hospitals and schools.

An audience intently watching a film that has been put on at GusourHis vision developed into what is now a whole ministry sector of the Anglican Church in Egypt. Its current director, Michael Adel, describes it as

a beautiful dream to bring people together.

The name given to the project is ‘Gusour,’ which translates into English as ‘bridge.’ The innovative idea was to use the arts and culture as a language of communication that crosses boundaries. Workshops and groups were set up across all areas of the arts on a cross-community basis. The members consist of Christians, Muslims and those young people who have given up on religion altogether. There is no judgement. The whole ethos is positive.

A group of young people performing in a productionThe acting workshops and productions have been very popular. There have been music groups ranging from drumming to full orchestra. Craft activities take place. Also popular are the film nights, when a film is shown in the Cathedral Hall, followed by discussion. The films are chosen for their profundity and because they raise issues that are important to people between 17 and 35 (the target group, though that is blurred at the edges and people are not turned away). Gusour has come to mean not only a bridge but also a shared safe space where opinions can be aired without fear of reprisal. Gusour has also played its part in helping to integrate refugees. It runs mental health workshops in which refugees feature amongst others.

Michael standing in front of the values boards. Each value is written in a different font on rough boards in a column. The top one reads "In our house"Michael’s office contains a wall decoration that sets out the shared values which members recognize. These are not like traditional Christian creeds, but they might have something in common. How many churches could benefit from producing a list in modern language that expresses what they feel church offers them?

“We are crazy, we make mistakes, we give big hugs,”

would certainly begin to describe some congregations! But also (hopefully),

“We give second chances, we say we are sorry, we do forgiveness.”

No wonder this is a mission project. It provides a bridge not only between sections of the community, but perhaps between old-fashioned ways of describing church and ones we can recognize and live out.

Mother and child playing the drums and looking very happy


18th July 2023