Greetings from Cairo! We have just completed the graduation ceremonies for 20 students to receive their diplomas; certificates, bachelor of divinity degrees, and masters degrees. You see them pictured above along with the dignitaries who presented their awards. It was the 139th time the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo has graduated a class, showing the long term investment in the mission field here by the Presbyterian Church in America and other overseas partners, in cooperation with its local colleagues. Though still a tiny minority within this predominately Muslim country, it presents a strong witness to evangelical and ecumenical Christianity, and works with the wider Christian community in the Middle East to live as gentle and loving neighbors in this diversity.
I had written in an earlier blog that Christian church buildings are not as prominent on the landscape as you would find in the United States and Europe, but as you can see from this picture to the right, this one and a few others are of grand size, seating over 1,000 worshippers. The church was filled to capacity with family members and friends of the graduates. A few of the graduates with a divinity degree will serve as assistants in churches like this one in the center and suburbs of Cairo, but most will receive a first call to rural or small town communities throughout Egypt. Several have put off marrying until the finish of their studies. (This reminds me a little of the situation not too long ago in the U.S., when only men were called to serve as pastors and when weddings and ordinations occurred in the same year).
I will complete the administrative tasks for this first year in the next few weeks and fly to the U.S. for vacation, a conference with other missionaries, and visits with family and friends. I will also be visiting First Lutheran Church in Torrance, California on July 6th. They have been contributing support to my work here, for which I am very grateful. If you would like me to speak at your church (in the southern California area - June 22nd, 29th, July 13th and 20th are available, or during the week), please let me know. I will return to Cairo on the first of August to participate in the faculty retreat. My appointment is again for one year, while the Global Missions Division of the ELCA searches for a "younger", long term replacement. I will write again when I have news, probably in early September. In Christ, Roger Rogahn