EMU grad student Matthew Bucher (left) with Father Angelos, a Coptic priest serving in Il-Qosseya. Bucher is co-leading a Virginia Mennonite Missions trip with alumna Greta Shenk during June 2013. Trip participants will meet Angelos and other Christians in Egypt. (Photo provided by Matthew Bucher.)

Egypt Trip Shows Common Ground of Seminary and Peacebuilding

Ever since 2011, Egypt has featured prominently in U.S. news. But what do U.S. citizens, especially Christians, really know about the country?

Matthew Bucher and Greta Shenk are teaming up with Virginia Mennonite Missions to help Christians learn more about Egypt through a two-week “Partners in Mission” trip, June 11-24, 2013.

“I want us to deepen our understanding of a country we only see for 30 seconds at a time in the news,” said Bucher, who is dual enrolled in Eastern Mennonite University’s Seminary and Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

Shenk, a 2010 EMU grad with a degree in teaching English, said that Egypt “is often portrayed in ways that are distancing and off-putting, but we are hoping to help Christians connect with our brothers and sisters there and experience some of our similarities.”

Bucher and Shenk will lead “Walking the Nile,” spending time in Cairo, Anafora, Beni Suef and Il-Qosseya.

“Our goal is not to try to see everything there is to see,” said Bucher. “We want this to be a pilgrimage, which is primarily about meeting people, learning about the world of Christianity and deepening discipleship.”

Bucher and Shenk, who have both lived in Egypt, have organized the trip around experiencing different languages, cultures and locations, as well as a variety of worship services.

Shenk spent a year with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) teaching classes in Cairo and Beni Suef. Bucher spent four years in Egypt with MCC, mostly working with a Coptic Orthodox diocese, where he facilitated peacebuilding trainings, taught English and networked with MCC partners.

“I learned in Egypt that the best peacebuilding comes out of being rooted in faith,” said Bucher. “The best peacebuilders I met were that way because they loved Christ and engaged others with creativity and compassion.”

To learn more about “Walking the Nile,” visit vmmissions.org or call Matthew Bucher at 717-644-2078. One elective seminary credit may be earned for the study tour.