The Coptic Orthodox Church originated in Alexandria, Egypt and is one of the world’s largest Christian denominations, claiming apostolic succession through John Mark – author of Mark’s Gospel.
The church remains faithful to its core beliefs of Faith, Dogma and Tradition and does not alter these to suit contemporary trends. Instead it continues to face persecution and death for upholding Christ-like faith.
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What is the Coptic Orthodox Church?
The Coptic Orthodox Church is an Eastern Christian denomination within the Oriental Orthodox communion. Headquartered in Egypt and with members across Libya, Sudan and the Middle East. One of the earliest Christian churches ever to exist; its roots can be traced back to Saint Mark (author of the second Gospel), who resided in Alexandria around 125 CE.
Orthodox Christianity is a faith founded on belief in God as Creator of all things, and Jesus Christ as his son who sacrificed himself on the Cross for humanity’s salvation. Human beings themselves are accountable for their own personal salvation by living moral lives, working to aid the needy and fasting regularly as part of spiritual practice – in addition to receiving baptism or communion sacraments as necessary.
According to the Orthodox Creed, Christians believe in worshipping one God: in “the unity of Holy Spirit and fullness of God we worship one.” In other words, Christ has both divine and human aspects; He shares in all God’s creatures’ natures. This doctrine is known in Western Christian circles as Trinity while Eastern Orthodox tradition refers to it as Incarnation.
Coptic Orthodox Church believes in Jesus being both human and divine – something many Protestant and Catholic churches emphasize – with St Cyril of Alexandria having declared at the first Ecumenical Council: Christ is “one nature,” having both divine and human aspects.
Copts may have endured much, yet remain an active, vibrant, and faithful group that comprises about 10-20% of Egypt’s population. Copts hold dear their ancestry and feel strongly connected with it.
Like its Eastern Orthodox counterparts, the Coptic Orthodox Church is led by a patriarch and 12 diocesan bishops elected through an electoral college of laymen. They oversee finances related to both church and school as well as administer rules regarding marriage and inheritance.
What is the Coptic Orthodox Faith?
The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the world’s oldest Christian denominations, dating back to Saint Mark the Apostle and distinguished by a spiritual approach that emphasizes holiness, Divine Mysteries and fellowship. It draws its foundations from Apostolic faith, Church Father teachings and its first three ecumenical councils.
Conservative and traditional, it has preserved its faith from its inception and passed it along through generations. With an emphasis on sanctity and the Divine Mysteries rooted in orthodox doctrine from Scripture, early Church Fathers, and ecumenical councils – this tradition-bearing church stands firm today.
Coptic Orthodox Church differs significantly from Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in that it does not hold only one view of Jesus Christ as its deity. Instead, this branch was first founded as an alternative denomination from other Mediterranean Christians at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
Current estimates put the Coptic Orthodox Church’s membership between 10 million to 60 million worldwide, most residing in Egypt but there are also small clusters throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The Coptic Orthodox Church firmly believes that Christ is God’s son and Savior of humanity; they recognize him as Lord over Heaven and Earth and that He was born into Mary’s womb before dying on the Cross for our sins, being buried, and rising again on the third day. In short, He alone can offer salvation.
Coptic Christians believe in seven sacraments: baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation), Eucharist, Confession, Orders Matrimony and Unction as well as fasting during certain times of year.
Coptic Church worship follows a traditional approach. Services feature beautiful melodies, heartfelt praises, and spiritual readings from the Bible. A two-hour liturgical event known as liturgy includes spiritual sermons. Additionally, during prayer services it is customary for congregation members to abstain from food and beverages as well as work until after it has concluded.
What is the Coptic Orthodox Liturgy?
The Coptic Orthodox Church strongly upholds its faith in the Divine Liturgy, an ensemble of liturgical services performed by all members of its church community. Christians gather during Divine Liturgy as part of worship services dedicated to Holy Eucharist (or Mass).
Tradition holds that the first part of Divine Liturgy consists of an offertory. This portion takes place before reading of Gospel or singing of Hymns; afterwards congregation may also offer gifts.
After the offertory, clergy lead their congregation in the Divine Liturgy – the main part of church service which occurs at its center. A priest carries bread around an altar while another server brings wine. Finally, clergy kiss consecrated bread before handing out Communion to members.
Before administering Communion, clergy pray to Jesus for His mercy and grace upon those receiving it as well as intercessory prayers from all saints. Additionally, prayers are said for sick people or anyone needing healing services.
Coptic Church members practice seven canonical sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Priesthood Matrimony and Unction of the Sick. Of these ceremonies, baptism is most frequently celebrated.
Coptic Church celebrates seven major Holy feasts and seven minor Holy feasts every year: Annunciation, Christmas, Theophany, Palm Sunday Feast of Resurrection Ascension and Pentecost are just a few examples.
Easter, celebrated on April 21st annually, marks a key day in our Coptic calendar and marks Jesus’ resurrection from death.
At Easter, a priest will lead and celebrate a more inclusive form of the Divine Liturgy similar to what would be found within an Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Divine Liturgy of the Coptic Church offers a sublime spiritual experience for its faithful, connecting them closer to Christ with soul-stirring hymns and melodies that draw them nearer to Him. It features deep praises that move deeply and beautifully melodies which connect believers with worshippers of other churches around them.
What is the Coptic Orthodox Theology?
The Coptic Orthodox Church exemplifies Christian faith and one of the oldest churches worldwide, having preserved apostolic thought and life within her spirituality, liturgies and dogmas.
The Church has long had a tradition of monasticism, which began as an attempt to escape persecution under Roman Emperor Diocletian. Monasticism involves prayer, repentance, and contemplation – as modeled by some of its most esteemed fathers – leading a life that takes inspiration from some of Christianity’s greatest leaders.
Christians are born into sin, but God provides salvation through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. However, humans still bear responsibility to work toward their own salvation by fasting and almsgiving as well as confessing their sins to a priest.
Coptic beliefs have greatly shaped their liturgy, which resembles Catholic liturgy yet draws upon an ancient monastic tradition for inspiration. Additionally, they celebrate seven major and several minor Holy feasts each year including Easter, Christmas and Theophany.
This Church is one of the world’s oldest surviving Christian congregations and is considered by some to be its progenitor. Over its long existence, this Christian body has made major contributions to Christendom such as monasticism, biblical interpretation, and Christological orthodoxy formulation.
The Church takes an uncompromising position regarding the separation between State and Religion, which was laid out by Saints John Chrysostom and Basil the Great. They both believed that Christians must submit to their rulers without trying to overthrow them.
As such, the Coptic Church has never aligned itself with any one government and does not engage in political activity. This separation between Church and State can be found within scripture which states that God must be obeyed as King.
The Church can trace its roots back to early apostles, particularly Mark the Apostle. He ministered in Egypt and appointed bishops, priests and deacons as an army to assist him before being martyred for his faith at Alexandria. Today’s Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church stands as his direct descendant through an uninterrupted chain of popes since Mark’s time as an apostle.