Awqaf Ministry Trying to 'Coordinate' With Evangelical Church, Say Religious Leaders

After the uproar that ensued after the Awqaf Ministry's of Endowments banned communication or actions with the Evangelical Church, it would appear that both sides are working to contain the situation.

"The Ministry of Awqaf wanted, via its statement, for there to be coordination between them and the Evangelical body," Dr. Rev. Safwat el-Bayadi, following the visit of an Awqaf delegation to the Evangelical Church today, told MCN.

"The Awqaf Ministry statement was very brief, and it demanded no dealing with the Evangelical Church, however after it was returned to the Ministry the statement is now understood as a kind of boycott," he continued.

"In fact, due to the change and reformation in the Awqaf Ministry and the appearance of new political groups in it- some Salafis and some from the Muslim Brotherhood- there have been requests to be aware of the projects and activities in which the Evangelical Sect is involved," the reverend added.

"Especially that there will be trips both inside and outside of the country for conferences and international events where some clerics will be invited to represent Islam and Egypt, the ministry has requested that there would be coordination between itself and the sect to avoid situations where only certain clerics are allowed to travel to the events, so that the clerics will be nominated by the ministry and an agreement was made," he continued.

Rev. Bayadi added that it is within the ministry's right to take such actions, but "it was necessary that there be a better format of the statement than what was published and circulated in the media."

"The Evangelical Church is the only church that shares its endowments with the Awqaf Ministry," he noted.

"Since its inception in Egypt 150 years ago it hasn't differentiated between a Muslim and a Christian, whether in schools, hospitals or social service, as all Egyptians citizens need help and assistance without discrimination," Rev. Bayadi explained.

Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Razek, Undersecretary for the Awqaf Ministry, said the ministry called on Dr. Bayadi to facilitate coordination and development in their common interactions to be compatible with the spirit of the times.

Sheikh Razek noted that the delegation, "came from the ministry to uphold communication and increase the relationship between [the ministry] and the Evangelical Church … there is no disagreement with the Church, but only cooperation and love."

According to Sheikh Razek, this visit was necessary to clarify the "misunderstanding that has occurred," pointing out that it came too late due to the "media pursuit of [the ministry], who did not allow us a chance to respond to the statement."

He also stressed that "the main objective of the statement is to increase coordination between us and the Evangelical Church," and new bridges must be created between them.

A delegation from the Ministry of Awqaf, headed by Sheikh Razek, visited the Evangelical Church in Cairo on Monday, where he was greeted by Dr. Rev. Safwat el-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Sect.

The meeting was to review the crisis following the ministry's publication of a statement calling to stop all dealing with the Evangelical Church.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides issued a joint statement in which they reaffirmed the historical relationship shared between the Ministry of Awqaf and the Evangelical Church, and the need to continue this relationship and deepen it through official channels and legitimacy.

A special committee was also formed between the ministry and church to consult and build more bridges of trust and cooperation.