Please join the leadership of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York and New England for the joyous occasion of the visit of His Grace Bishop David and the vote of the Massachusetts Council of Churches for this new judicatory member. We pray that our vote, vespers, and fellowship may be a foretaste of the unity that is ours in Christ Jesus. All are invited to attend and rejoice.
Friday October 25, 2019 beginning at 7pm
St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, 145 Oak Street, Natick MA
7:00pm MCC Boards convene for historic vote (downstairs)
7:30pm Vespers in the Coptic Orthodox Tradition (in sanctuary)
Parking is available next door. For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Brief history of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Massachusetts:
The Coptic Orthodox Church is an ancient Church tracing their origins back to Saint Mark the Evangelist’s presence in Egypt and the historic see of Alexandria in the early Church. His Holiness Pope Tawadros II officially established the Diocese of New York and New England in 2013 under the auspices of His Grace Bishop David.
His Grace Bishop David was consecrated in formal ceremonies taking place in Cairo, Egypt on November 16-17, 2013. Bishop David was formally enthroned on December 7, 2013 at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Abraam in Woodbury, Long Island in a ceremony that brought together thousands of the Coptic faithful, clergy, and dignitaries.
The foundation of the Diocese was planted in the mid-1970s when numerous Coptic families immigrated to the United States from Egypt under the leadership and guidance of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. Beginning in the 1960’s visiting priests offered services for Egyptian Orthodox Christians, many of them students. In 1972, the faithful started renting Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA. In the late 1970’s, Coptic Christians in Massachusetts requested a priest for Boston; Fr. Salib Ava Mina and the congregation began to rent St. John Episcopal Church in Newtonville, MA. In 1985, the congregation purchased the property at 145 Oak Street in Natick for a permanent location for St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Boston. On September 1, 1991, His Holiness, Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark placed the corner stone for St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Boston.
There are multiple Coptic communities across New England, in addition to the initial church in Natick. In 1997, the community purchased 187 acres in Chartlon as a retreat center, named Holy Virgin Mary Spiritual Vineyard. In 2008, the community purchased St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Nashua, NH and renamed it St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church to serve the growing congregation north of Boston. In 2010, the community expanded again to a permanent location for St. Mary & St. George Coptic Orthodox Church of Marshfield. The community expanded further south to Attleboro with the purchase of the shuttered St. Joseph Church to become The Church of the Holy Family Coptic Church. Responding again to growing populations in Boston and Metro-West, in 2016 the church of Saint Philopater Mercurius & Saint Mina formed at the former Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Wayland. Further west, a church previously worshiped in by the Assemblies of God in Milford is now home to St Mary of the Assumption Coptic Church. All the while, clergy have continued to attend to the needs of Coptic students in Massachusetts, with worship and fellowship at The Paulist Center and Church of the Covenant in Boston.
The growth and spiritual vitality of the Coptic Orthodox community in Massachusetts is worthy of praise, and yet also bears witness to a tragic reality- Many Coptic Christians are fleeing Egypt and moving abroad because it is increasingly unsafe to remain in their historic homelands as a religious minority. Persecution has been an enduring experience in the Coptic Orthodox Church since the establishment of the Church. In recent years, Coptic Christians have been martyred both in Egypt and abroad. In 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant murdered 21 Coptic Christian construction workers in Libya; Pope Tawadros II designated their commemoration as martyr saints on the 8th Amshir of the Coptic calendar (February 15 on the calendar). On Palm Sunday April 9 2017, ISIS two suicide bombings targeted Coptic Christians, first at St. George’s Church in Tanta and then St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria where Pope Tawadros II had just left to attend to the first bombing. At least 45 Copts were killed and hundreds injured. Safety, the ability to worship freely and a thriving Coptic community continue to be concerns in Egypt.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is led by the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy See of Saint Mark, currently His Holiness Pope Tawardos II who took office in 2012. Pope Tawardos II visited Massachusetts in 2018. The Coptic Orthodox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church among six autocephalous churches that recognize the first three ecumenical councils, including: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Coptic Church is the largest Christian community in the Middle East.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has a rich tradition of monasticism, shared in the Lives of the Saints and the Sayings of the Fathers. Coptic Christians observe seven sacraments or mysteries: Baptism, Chrismation, The Eucharist, Confession, Ordination (Priesthood), Marriage and Unction of the Sick. Five important fasts are observed: the pre-Lenten fast of Nineveh, the great fast of Lent, the fast of the Nativity before Christmas, the fast of the Apostles, after the Ascension, and the fast of the Virgin, before the Assumption. In addition, Wednesday and Friday are fasting days, except between Easter and Pentecost. The Coptic Church follows their traditional ancient calendar, with seven major and seven minor feasts.
As we gather for Vespers in the Coptic Orthodox tradition, notice the ways that three languages are present: Coptic, Arabic and English. Coptic worship services are deeply influenced by monastic traditions, praying the hours as monastic communities do. Listen for the chant and cymbals, as worship. Coptic services follow the Liturgies of St. Basil, St. Cyril, and St. Gregory.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is a member of the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in the United States.
We rejoice as the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York and New England joins the Massachusetts Council of Churches!