Summary: Conflict

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One of the most unedifying church fights made public was the Ethiopian and Egyptian Coptic church in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in nowhere more sacred than Jerusalem, visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. A long-running dispute over ownership of the site several years ago over the rooftop monastery held up repairs paid by the government.

Disputes are not uncommon, particularly over who has the authority to carry out repairs. The latest row was over the ladder above the church entrance that has been there since 19th Century. Although the Ethiopian monks have lived there for more than 200 years, the Copts were in overall control of the monastery after losing many of their rights within the main church. That's certainly how the Coptic Church interprets the "Status Quo" - the controversial 1852 decree, issued by the then-Ottoman rulers of Jerusalem, to put an end to the arguments among the church's various claimants.

Coptic and Ethiopian monks have come to blows in the past but they are not the only ones who have allowed tensions to boil over. Fights between monks from different sects in the Sepulchre are not uncommon and passions run high, particularly on important holy days. The Israeli government says it will pay for the work to be carried out only if the Copts and Ethiopians can resolve their differences. But after decades of hostility neither side is rushing to compromise.

“Unholy Row Threatens Holy Sepulchre,” Oct 19, 2008

The church in Antioch is the most quoted model of the early church, but one fine day there was trouble in paradise between two of the closest and brightest leaders there. The church had a rich and long history, as early as Pentecost.

Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch was one of the seven deacons of the early church (Acts 6:5). When persecution arose, Stephen travelled as far as Antioch to preach the word (Acts 11:19), and when a great number of people in Antioch believed and turned unto the Lord, the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 11:22). Barnabas, in turn, brought Paul to Antioch, where they spent a whole year together and taught much people there, where the disciples were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11:26).

It is impossible to agree on all things between a husband and a wife, a parent and a child, and two best friends, but what happens when two good friends and partners disagree on the job? When is conflict acceptable and when is it not? Why is it better to heal a relationship before it worsens?

Appreciate the Differences

35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. 36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.

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