What is the Coptic Orthodox Church?
The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in the world. It was founded by St. Mark the Evangelist and author of the second gospel in Alexandria, Egypt in the year 61 A.D. The word “Copt” means Egyptian. Copts are the native Christians of Egypt and the direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians who were converted to Christianity by St. Mark.
What does the Coptic Orthodox Church believe?
First and foremost, the church believes that the Bible is the inspired word of God, to be followed according to the interpretation of the early church fathers. The church upholds all the beliefs stated in the Nicene Creed of 325 AD, including a belief in One God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in Jesus Christ, who took human flesh, died and rose to save us from sin and death and in His second coming He will judge all and His Heavenly kingdom will be forever; in one universal and apostolic church and in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
The church believes in seven sacraments, which are mysteries through which the Holy Spirit imparts grace to the believers. These sacraments are:
- Baptism: Mark 16:16, John 3:5
- Chrismation or anointing with oil: 1 John 2:20, 27
- Repentance and Confession: 1 John 1:9, James 5:16, John 20:23
- Eucharist or Communion: John 6:51-58, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
- Matrimony: Matthew 19:4-6, Ephesians 5:31-33
- Priesthood: Romans 15:16, 2 Timothy 1:6
- Unction of the sick: James 5:14-15
- What are Orthodox services like?
The main worship service in the Orthodox Church is the Divine Liturgy celebrating the Eucharist. The liturgy is the story of humanity’s redemption. It is told regularly in order to remind the believers of Christ’s work to reconcile the world to God, so that all may be led to repentance as they partake of His Body and Blood. The most commonly used liturgy in the Coptic Church was written by St. Basil the Great in the fourth century. The liturgy is always celebrated on Sunday (the Lord’s Day), but may also be celebrated on any day of the week. In addition to the Divine Liturgy, the church holds Bible study meetings, youth meetings and Sunday school classes, for all to learn and grow.
What is the Coptic Orthodox Church’s role in mission?
The Coptic Orthodox Church has been historically known for her endeavors to relieve the poverty, sickness, suffering, and pain of people. Her rich heritage stems from ancient traditions in the fields of literature, education, philosophy, as well as the monastic system of welfare, training and mission. The church continues to vibrantly pursue these traditions by implementing various programs and services aimed at providing education, training and medical care to communities facing hardship in order to encourage sustainable development. The Coptic Church continues to positively impact millions of people throughout the world through her ministries. Missionary work is growing steadily around the world from the Americas to Australia. The church hopes to continue to expand its mission in order to restore life and human dignity to millions who have not yet known freedom from poverty, illiteracy and disease. Through these activities, the church is shining the light of God’s truth and demonstrating God’s great love for each man, woman or child.
Do you have to be Egyptian or Greek to join the Orthodox Church?
The kingdom of God is for everyone! Although the Coptic Orthodox church was founded in Egypt, today there are hundreds of orthodox churches all over the world with millions of members from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Why should I attend Church in the first place?
Christ never intended that any of His followers should be alone, but that they should exist and worship in community with one another forming one body - the church.
In an era where everything is considered truth, the church is daily battling new and strange teachings. It is refreshing to find a church that has remained genuine and true to the faith and spirituality of the early church, as established by Christ and handed down to the apostles and church fathers. It is easy to trust a church that has remained so faithful to its original teachings.
But how can I be sure?
Check out some reliable books in the history, faith and worship of the early church. You will find that they match that of the Orthodox Church today.