The four churches in Iran - meeting faithfully
There have been Christians in Iran since the earliest days of the Church and the indigenous Churches continue as minorities in this predominantly Muslim country. The Anglican presence arose out of missionary work by the Church Missionary Society and the Church's Ministry among Jewish people.Today there is a small Church which looks to the Bishop for spiritual leadership. The diocesan institutions – schools and hospitals and work among the blind – have gone but the tiny Church persists. Members of the Church need much prayer for strength to witness to their faith and for protection from the opposition. There have been martyrs since the Revolution, and the situation can only really be described, in human terms, as unpredictable.
The Diocese of Iran differs from other dioceses in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East in that it consists purely of congregations of Christians, with no medical, educational or other institutions. They were expropriated, along with institutions run by other Churches, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. So week by week the four congregations in Tehran, Isfahan, Julfa (a suburb of Isfahan) and Shiraz meet for fellowship and worship. Their numbers are not large, but they gather faithfully, supported by prayer, by the pastoral visits made by Bishop Azad, the leadership in Tehran of the Revd Christopher Edgar and others in Isfahan and Shiraz.
Churches in the Diocese:
St Luke Isfahan, St Simon the Zealot Shiraz, St Paul Tehran, St Paul’s Julfa.
To help Bible Lands readers offer support in prayer we publish a selection of prayers for the Churches and Christians in Iran:
Some words from the famous Iranian poet Hafez,whose tomb is in Shiraz. Iranians are great lovers of poetry.
And if the Holy Ghost descend
in grace and power infinite
His comfort in these days to lend
to those who humbly wait on it
Theirs too the wondrous works shall be
that Jesus wrought in Galilee.
Guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the
nations of the earth, that in tranquillity
thy kingdom may go forward, till the
earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love.
we thank you for all those who uphold
the faith in Iran.
We pray that you will give them courage,
enrich them with the gift of the Holy Spirit,
and strengthen their sense of belonging
to the Universal Church
so that their sense of isolation may be relieved.
O Lord God, Heavenly Father,
you brought the Persian Magi to honour
our Lord Jesus at his birth,
after they had waited hundreds of years
for a Saviour.
We now pray for your people in Iran,
both for those who already know you and
those who are still waiting.
Pour down your Holy Spirit upon them:
Redeem them, heal them, build them up,
guide them into all truth, and protect them
in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
A prayer using some of the New Testament titles for Jesus found in the eight-pointed Persian star designed by Dr Norman Sharp for St Simon the Zealot Church, Shiraz. In Farsi each of the names begins with an alef (a long vertical stroke) which points to the name Jesus Christ in the centre of the star.