New York, NY - May 17, 2013
The Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Ignatius Zakka I., along with several bishops and archbishops of his church, has publicly thanked the Ambassador for Human Rights of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, for the work of the WEA on behalf of Christians facing discrimination worldwide, and especially for the efforts of the WEA on behalf of Syrian Orthodox Christians.
At the same time, the Patriarch invited him to visit the Middle East. Dr. Schirrmacher presented the Patriarch with a copy of the new, wide-ranging book published for the WEA on the theme of Christian persecution, Sorrow & Blood: Christian Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution, and Martyrdom1, which was written by 45 experts from around the world.
In his remarks, Dr. Schirrmacher pointed out that the Syriac Orthodox Church has a history of experiencing persecution that did not begin with the recent civil war. The fact that 300,000 Syrian Orthodox Christians and their descendants live in Europe today is a result of the persecution which, beginning in the late nineteenth century, reached its high point about a century ago, at which time many thousands were chased out of Turkey.
He lamented that the fate of the church in Syria, which is being wiped out between the opposing military fronts, has hardly come to the attention of the world media and political leaders.
Dr. Schirrmacher also held several individual discussions with both Syrian Orthodox and Coptic bishops from various Muslim majority countries who reported on the discrimination and persecution of Christians in their various countries.
Ignatius Zakka I., Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, was born in 1933 and elected to become the 122nd patriarch of his church in 1980. The church traces its roots to the first century and has concentrations of churches today in the Middle East, India, Sweden, Germany, and Canada.
It is part of the group of ancient churches which are usually called “Oriental Orthodox” to distinguish them from the “Eastern Orthodox” churches. The Oriental Orthodox Communion includes six separate churches which remain distinct while cooperating. They are the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox, the Eritrean Orthodox, the Syrian Orthodox, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (in India), and the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Syriac Orthodox Church also calls itself the “Syriac” Orthodox Church, to emphasize that it is not necessarily associated only with the modern country of Syria.
1 Edited by William D. Taylor, Antonia van der Meer, and Reg Reimer. William Carey Library, 2012, www.sorrowandblood.com
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Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at [email protected] or go to Worldea.org.
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