THE CHURCH TODAY
THE CHURCH TODAY
The Coptic Church is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, a group which includes the Ethiopian Church, the Syrian Jacobite Church, the Syrian Church of India, and the Armenian Church. The Oriental Orthodox Group has around 60 million members worldwide.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Coptic Church underwent phases of new development. In 1853, Pope Cyril IV established the first modern Coptic school, including the first Egyptian school for girls. He also founded a printing press, which was the second national press in the country. Pope Cyril IV established very friendly relations with other denominations, to the extent that when the Greek Patriarch in Egypt had to absent himself for a long period of time outside the country, he left his Church under the guidance of the Coptic Patriarch.
The Theological College of the School of Alexandria was re-established in 1893. It began its new history with five students, one of whom was later to become its dean. Today it has campuses in Alexandria, Cairo, and various dioceses throughout Egypt, as well as outside Egypt, in New Jersey, Los Angeles, Sydney, Melbourne and London, where potential clergymen and other qualified men and women are taught many subjects, among which are theology, church history, missionary studies, and Coptic language.
Today the Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Church in the Middle East, with about 12 million faithful in Egypt. There are an increasing number of monks and nuns in monasteries and convents in the deserts of Egypt, and an increasing number of well-educated young men and women who are consecrating their lives to the ministry as parish priests, monks, nuns, deacons, and deaconesses.
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church is now made up of 90 Metropolitans and Bishops, headed by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II who came to the Patriarchate in 2012.
As the head of the oldest Church in Africa, Pope Tawadros II is keen to extend and continue the work of the past reposed H.H. Pope Shenouda III and the Apostolic Mission of St. Mark across all Africa and the world.
Today there are over 14 Coptic Orthodox Churches, two monasteries, a clinic, and a vocational centre in Kenya, Zambia, Zaire, and the surrounding regions as well as Churches in Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa.
Outside Egypt, there are over 80 churches in the United States, as well as two theological colleges and a monastery in California, while in Canada there are 21 churches. There are over 20 churches in Australia alongside two monasteries, two Coptic Theological Colleges, and a number of Coptic schools. In Europe, there are over fifty churches across twelve countries. There are now established several Coptic monasteries in Germany, Italy, and France. The United Kingdom now ha over fifteen churches, a retreat centre in Birmingham and a Church Centre and Theological College in Stevenage.
An important indication of the success and growth of the ministry of the Coptic Church outside Egypt is the growing number of her children who have been brought up in various countries and are now becoming monks, nuns, priests, and bishops. They serve their own churches and the Church at large as people who have lived in these communities and have an in-depth knowledge of their language, people and culture.
As an important pastoral note, the Coptic Church is now appointing Bishops and Priests to oversee various Diocese’ and areas around the world - ensuring more concentrated local pastoral care and service to the needy, homeless, destitute and poor.
There are currently 4 bishops across the U.S., 2 in Australia, 2 in France, 2 in Italy, 1 in Germany, 1 in Switzerland, 1 in Austria, 2 in Africa, and 4 in the United Kingdom. As the ministry grows and expands, we can be sure of seeing many more such appointments in the coming years.
In considering all of the above mentioned facts, it is obvious that the Coptic Orthodox Church has been blessed with a very firm foundation which has led her to grow in many directions, maintaining her care for her children throughout the past twenty centuries and leading them into the twenty-first century with the approach of intensified educational and pastoral care. This approach ensures the continued line of Traditional and Apostolic Orthodoxy is Faithfully handed down from generation to generation.
The Church in Egypt
The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Church in the Middle East, with about 12 million faithful in Egypt. At the end of the twentieth century, estimates ranged from 6 to 11 million; 6% (official estimate) to 20% (Church estimate) of the population, the majority living in the Upper Egyptian provincial capitals of Assiut and Minya, and in Cairo.
Despite their numbers, Copts play little part in the running of Egypt. Only one Christian has since been appointed provincial governor, and that was for a brief period of two years in the remote governorate of North Sinai. Not one has since held a key cabinet portfolio; not one has even been appointed mayor of a city or town. Currently, Copts are sorely under-represented in parliament, occupying only seven of 454 seats.
The Church Around the World
Under the leadership of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, there is an increasing number of monasteries and convents in the deserts of Egypt, as well as new monasteries being established abroad in America, Europe, and Australia.
The Coptic Church is a dynamic church, always looking to satisfy importantly the spiritual, and socioeconomic needs of all her children. Over the past thirty years, the Church has spread all over the world.
Since the enthronement in 1971 - of the past reposed Thrice Blessed Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Church has established over 150 Churches abroad in Africa, Europe, America, South America, Canada, and Australia. However, the Church of Alexandria is by no means introspective or exclusive.
Even to this day, at an official & unofficial level and under the Guidance of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II – The Coptic Church takes an active role in trying to restore the Unity of the Christian Faith across Christendom to the ONE Holy Universal & Apostolic Church of God.
The Church is actively involved in dialogue with major Christian Church denominations. Additionally, the Church is currently a member of the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, the All African Council of Churches, and other such international, regional and local bodies.
The Church promotes the Peace, Love and Unity taught by Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. She teaches her children to be Holy, Constructive, and Peaceful members of Society; and to have good relations with all of its members, regardless of Race, Colour or Creed - thus enabling us to be worthy ambassadors of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has continued to Strongly and Faithfully maintain her mission over the past 2000 years - to this day, to spread the Message of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and profess the Salvation which HE Alone has provided for Us through the ultimate Sacrifice of the Holy Cross & and in His Glorious Resurrection.
It is also obvious that the Lord has kept and protected the Church through wave after wave of persecution, maintaining her as a devoted witness to His Divine and Joyful Message throughout the ages.
We Pray & Ask that Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ (The Logos) - the True Incarnate Word of GOD, grant His Church continued protection and guidance for years to come. To continue to prepare her for the Glory of His Triumphant Second Coming.
That he may guide us into His Everlasting Kingdom with the joyful words: "Come, You Blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom Prepared for You from the Foundation of the world.” ~ Matthew 25:34