Walking the Nile: summer learning tour will explore Egypt

Posted on January 9, 2013 by VMMissions Staff

In this season of remembering Jesus’ birth and childhood, the Egyptian (Coptic) Church celebrates the special place that Egypt holds in the Christian story. They remember the Holy Family’s pilgrimage in Egypt as they fled from the wrath of Herod (Matthew 2:13-15). Since that time, the Coptic Orthodox Church has been growing and worshiping faithfully in the lands around the Nile river. To this day, many pilgrims travel in the steps of the Holy Family through this changing and beautiful land.

Though we are geographically distant, Mennonites share deep roots of faith with the Coptic Church. New strength of connection was built in the late 1960s when Mennonites worked with the Coptic Church during regional unrest. Since then, Mennonite Central Committee and other Mennonite affiliates have been a consistent presence in Egypt, partnering with the Coptic Church on projects of development, education, and peacebuilding.

Virginia Mennonite Missions is offering the opportunity to explore those roots of connection and to build relationships through a new Partners learning tour in June 2013.

Led by Matthew Bucher and Greta Shenk, the Learning Tour will be two weeks of pilgrimage and reflection, intentional discipleship, and cross-cultural encounter. Bucher served with MCC in Egypt from 2007-2011, teaching and facilitating peacebuilding workshops with the Coptic Orthodox Church. Also with MCC, Shenk taught English in Cairo and Beni Suef.

Bucher and Shenk are looking forward to introducing people to the rootedness that they experienced during their work in Egypt. As Emmanuel Katongole wrote in Reconciling All Things, “The goal of a pilgrim is not to solve but to search, not so much to help as to be present…The pace is slower, more reflective. Pilgrims set out not so much to assist strangers but to eat with them.”

The learning tour, entitled “Walking the Nile,” will endeavor to build and reflect upon relationships, stretching across the distance that separates us through the faith that connects us.

If you are interested in more information about the tour and the possibility of participating, contact Matthew Bucher, [email protected] or (717) 644-2078; or contact VMM at (800) 707-5535 or
[email protected]

Image above: Egyptian Coptic nuns and priests (in background) have a long and rich history in Egypt. Mennonites have connected with the Coptic community since the 1950s. Courtesy of author.


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