CAIRO CAROL SERVICE SHOWS EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS’ UNITY
The Christmas carol service at St Joseph Church in Cairo, broadcast to millions via SAT-7 ARABIC on 14 December, is an encouraging picture of Christian impact and unity in Egypt.
“The role of the Church in Egypt is very important. It is not numbers that determine if people can be effective. Even if Christians are small in number, they can still have a strong impact through schools, hospitals, charity events, arts events and others. That’s the best message you can give,” says Father Boutros Danial, priest and choir leader at St Joseph Church.
Regularly attended by Egyptian celebrities, officials, and foreign diplomats, the church’s annual Christmas carol concert is an example of this outsize impact. And the choir themselves – who file into the church’s nave dressed in red, white and black – are also evidence of Christian unity. As their angelic voices blend in the high-ceilinged church, they represent the coming together of many different denominations.
Father Danial explains that the church is a hub for all. “Our Christmas choir has 130 members,” he says. “Our choir is not restricted to members of our own church. We are very proud of our choir members who participate here and also serve God in their own churches,” he says.
Situated in the heart of Cairo, St Joseph Church stands out with a unique patterned, colourful exterior design among the surrounding grey buildings. Built in 1875 by a renowned Italian architect, the church is evidence of the diverse Christian faith in Egypt. Although it started out as a church for Italian expats, it now serves all denominations of Egyptian Christians.
St Joseph’s is also a leader among churches in Egypt in holding Christmas carols, which are a relatively new tradition in the country. Since the church started its annual concert in the early 2000s, other churches, keen to gather their congregations for Christmas celebrations outside of the traditional celebratory mass, have begun holding their own carol services.