The Prince of Wales will visit the Syrian Orthodox Church, St Thomas Cathedral in Acton On Wednesday. Whilst there, he will meet members of the congregation from Iraq and Syria who have first-hand experience of persecution.
The Prince for years has worked tirelessly to foster inter-faith dialogue and a stronger awareness of different religions in Britain and abroad.
On arrival at the Syrian Orthodox Church, Charles will be welcomed by Archbishop of the Syriac (Syrian) Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, His Eminence Mor Athanasius Toma Dawod Dakkama.
The Prince will meet privately with members of the congregation from Iraq and Syria who have witnessed the tragedy of persecution first hand. After meeting with the group, he will join the congregation for a brief service of prayers and hymns.
There are around 3000 people belonging to the Syriac Orthodox Church in the UK, 2000 live in London and the surrounding area. There are two parishes in London and other parishes in Brighton, Manchester and Cardiff. The church was established in the 1960s.
There are nearly 5,000,000 followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church worldwide- 500,000 in Syria, 70,000 in Iraq at present, 50,000 in Lebanon, 30,000 in Turkey, 10,000 in Israel and Jordan and few thousand in Egypt and the Gulf States. A considerable majority live in India, while the rest are spread after immigrating since the early 20th century across Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand as well as the addition of Guatemala and Central America.
During his recorded message, The Prince of Wales commented: “It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East; an area where Christians have lived for 2,000 years, and across which Islam spread in 700AD, with people of different faiths living together peaceably for centuries.”
In December 2013, The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Ghazi of Jordan jointly visited the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage and the Syrian Orthodox Church in Acton.
Charles has visited both Coptic and Orthodox centres of worship both home and abroad over the years. Meeting with members of both communities, he has voiced concern about the challenges that exist for Christians in Middle Eastern countries as well as get together with those who live in the UK, to discuss said challenges in his own country.