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Night of remembrance

An Episcopal church in Manhattan offers prayers for Asia Bibi at a service for persecuted Christians

Observing Red Wednesday in the Czech Republic Katerina Sulova/CTK/AP

Night of remembrance
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A New York moment:

Last Wednesday churches around the world lit up red in solidarity with persecuted Christians, an event called Red Wednesday. Here in New York the only church I found that marked the day was Calvary-St. George, an Episcopal church. Calvary-St. George’s music director, Kamel Boutros, comes from an often-persecuted group in Egypt, the Copts.

A prolific composer, Boutros set a new tune for the Martin Luther hymn “From Deepest Woe I Cry to Thee” for the congregation to sing at the opening of the evening service. The service alternated liturgy with information about various groups around the world undergoing persecution. First there was a video about the killing of Copts.

The congregation prayed together: “God of grace and peace, who stretched out your arms upon the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace, pour your power upon all the people of the Middle East: Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Palestinians and Israelis.”

Then there was a responsive reading of Psalm 22, which opens with the famous line, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Though the evening focused on Christian persecution, the congregation also reflected on the October shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. Later on, Rector Jacob Smith stood up to read a news article about Asia Bibi, noting her current life-and-death plight: She seems to have no path out of Pakistan, where she faces constant, widespread death threats.

The night ended with a hymn: “Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear; arise, O Sun so longed for, o’er this benighted sphere. With hearts and hands uplifted we plead, O Lord, to see the day of earth’s redemption that sets your people free!”

Worth your time:

The trailer for Peter Jackson’s new documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, where he colorized World War I footage and hired lip readers to decipher conversations:

This week I learned:

Life expectancy in Mississippi is an astonishing six years lower than in New York. This year we’ve written a lot about the factors behind the United States’ decline in life expectancy, which is not pleasant to read about, but I’m glad we’ve been covering these trends.

A court case you might not know about:

A lawsuit in Miami shows a mess of gender issues. Miami officials placed a woman in her 50s in a jail for men, assuming she was transgender because she was taking hormone replacement medication for menopause.

Culture I am consuming:

Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix, a cozy four-episode show with Samin Nosrat that lays down several basic, helpful concepts for home cooks. Nosrat is so fun to watch as she tours the globe: She cried when she ate a particularly delicious hunk of parmesan cheese in the “Fat” episode.

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at

Emily Belz

Emily is a former senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and also previously reported for the New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City.



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