A statement from the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

We greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

We have gathered from around the Anglican Communion for the installation of Bishop Azad Marshall as the sixth Bishop in Iran.

We rejoice to find that the Anglican Episcopal Church in Iran has been active since the announcement of the appointment of Bishop Azad Marshall as vicar-general of the Diocese in Iran in 2004. Bishop Azad has focused his early work on regathering those of the Anglican community who had been dispersed over the last years. In particular he has been able to welcome and encourage clergy to begin taking public services of worship again in churches. All those whom we have met have spoken of Bishop Azad’s welcoming spirit.

The response of the Anglican community here was shown when representatives of each region in Iran, including Shiraz, Isfahan, Jolfa and Tehran, met in synod in Tehran and elected Bishop Azad as their Bishop by 15 votes to 1. Thus the people of Iran themselves have affirmed the discernment of the Province who nominated him as Diocesan Bishop in February 2007.

Bishop Azad has also built good relationships with the Muslim religious leaders in Iran, and specially with those in the Ministry of Religious Affairs. He joined with ex-President Khatmi in his visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace earlier this year. The Bishop is now involved in dialogue with the Islamic organizations. He is committed to enabling peace and reconciliation between the two faith communities.

The importance which the Islamic leadership and the Iranian Government attaches to the installation of Bishop Azad is shown by the the way in which the Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt was received on arrival at Tehran Airport by representatives of the Iranian Government and the Egyptian Ambassador.

We ask for your prayers for Bishop Marshall and his family as he faces many challenges. He will continue his responsibilities as Bishop of the Church of Pakistan in the Gulf. In Iran he will focus on restoring parishes and repairing church buildings that have been closed and deserted for many years. This will require significant financial investment.

With the openness of the Government and People of Iran there is hope that these church properties could be returned to the name of the Church in Iran once again.

The Installation will take place in St Luke’s Church, Tehran on Sunday August 5th at 5 p.m (1.30 p.m.GMT). Several Bishops from around the Anglican Communion have already arrived to take part, including Bishop Michael Nazir Ali of Rochester who is representing the Archbishop of Canterbury and who will be leading all the bishops of the Province and visiting Bishops when they meet Iraqi Ayatollah for a dialogue on the evening of August 6th, Archbishop John Chew (South East Asia), Bishop Suheil Dawani, Bishop of Jerusalem, Bishop Paul Butler of Southampton, Bishop Riah, former Bishop of Jerusalem,and a representative of the Bishop of Oxford.

We request your prayers for the installation service.

Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East.