The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

BOC South Coast Churches’ Three Days’ Observance

In response to the deaths of two dozen and the wounding of very, very many of our beloved Coptic Orthodox brethren in Cairo on Sunday and the Holy Synod call for three days of fasting and prayer “so that the Lord dwells with His peace in our beloved country Egypt” the British Orthodox Church stood in firm solidarity with the Mother Church.

Members of the Portsmouth congregation kept the three days of fasting and prayer concluding with a special prayer service on Thursday evening during which these latest martyrs were remembered.

Similarly the Bournemouth and Southampton congregations observed the three days fasting and prayer.

The prayers in the Bournemouth Church each day centred around Sixth Hour (Noon) Prayers with the Gospel lesson from Matthew chapter 5 so appropriate: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:10-12) Particular verses from the Psalms also resonated powerfully: “O God, in Thy Name save me… hearken unto my prayer… strangers are risen up against me, and mighty men have sought after my soul…” (Psalm 53) The words of Psalm 92 also remind us that though “the rivers have lifted up their voices” that though they “lift up their waves as the voices of many waters”, that whatever “the surgings of the sea”, above them all “wonderful on high is the Lord”. “The Lord is King, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength…”

The Southampton Mission under the patronage of Saint Polycarp similarly centred their prayers around the Sixth Hour Prayers.

The three days culminated in the Bournemouth Church (also joined and supported by members of the Southampton Mission) with Twelfth Hour (Evening) Prayer and special prayers for the Mother Church in Egypt as well as remembering the new martyrs. Father Simon led the congregation as they stood before icons of Saint Antony and Saint Paul, Saint Bishoy, Saint Moses the Black, asking their intercessions for the monasteries that bear their names and for all the monasteries and holy places. Standing in prayer before their icons the intercessions of Saint Mary the Mother of God and of Saint Mark were invoked for the whole Church in Egypt. These prayers concluded before the icon of Saint Simon the Tanner whose intercessions were also sought, this great saint whose prayers God had answered a thousand years ago after the three days of fasting and prayers in similar times of danger and trouble for the Coptic Orthodox Church.


Copts killed in Cairo protest: Holy Synod asks for prayer and fasting

Many people were killed and hundreds were injured in Cairo on Sunday, 9 October when police and armed forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at a peaceful march, beginning in the suburb of Shoubra, to protest at the recent destruction of St. George’s Coptic church in El Marinab, Aswan. This had taken place after Friday prayers on Friday, when the dome, walls and columns of the church were demolished and set on fire. In addition to drawing attention to the attack on the church in Aswan, the demonstrators were also requesting an effective conclusion to investigations into several sectarian attacks, and the passing of a new law governing the building of churches,

Members of the security forces surrounded and attacked the Cairo marchers as soon as they arrived at the state television station in Cairo’s Maspero suburb.  The marchers claimed that they were pelted by people within the TV station itself.  Most of the casualties suffered gunshot wounds.  Others victims were severely beaten.  However, several died or were seriously injured when members of the security forces deliberately drove at the 150,000-strong crowd in armoured vehicles.

In a worrying development, while the attack was underway, the security forces are reported to have forcibly closed at least two independent media sources, while state television broadcast statements inciting against “Coptic protesters”. These included claims that the security forces were protecting the TV station from “angry” Copts,  that the allegedly armed marchers had killed one officer and injured 20 others, that “foreign agendas” were at work, and a call for people to take to the streets in order to “protect” the army.   In a possible response to the latter, men in civilian clothing were later spotted amongst security personnel as they attacked protesters, and Cairo’s Coptic Hospital, which received most of the dead and injured, came under a two-hour attack by a group of men who approached the premises chanting “Islamiya, Islamiya”.

The next day, at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, chaired by Pope Shenouda III and attended by 70 metropolitans and bishops, the following statement was issued:

The Holy Synod was troubled by the incidents that happened yesterday, Sunday; the martyrdom of more than 24 Christians and the wounding of 200 during their peaceful march. 

While stressing our Christian faith rejecting violence in all its forms, we cannot neglect that strangers might infiltrate among our sons and commit mistakes that are attributed to the latter.

Still Copts see that their problems are consistently repeated without punishment or legal action against their aggressors or implementation of radical solutions to these problems. The Holy Synod invites the Coptic people to pray and fast for three days starting tomorrow Tuesday so that the Lord dwells with His peace in our beloved country Egypt.

In solidarity with the Mother Church in Egypt, His Eminence Abba Seraphim, has commended this spiritual discipline to members of the British Orthodox Church and asked that services of commemoration for those who lost their lives in Cairo should be held in all churches and missions. “Our hearts go out to all the friends and families of the departed as well as for the many injured. As Christians we deplore all violence and under the wise guidance of H.H. Pope Shenouda we have been taught that our protests must always be peaceful. The Church respects the authorities but also asks that justice and the rule of law should be upheld. Without that it becomes increasingly difficult to rebuild a society in which all people of faith can co-exist harmoniously to ensure the stability and unity for which all decent people long.”

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British Orthodox Church mourns Metropolitan Domadios

Abba Seraphim expressed his condolences at the news of the death of His Eminence Metropolitan Domadios of Giza, who  died on 16 September at  at El-Salam Hospital in Mohandessin, Giza where he was under treatment. Pope Shenouda along with 37 metropolitans and bishops and 3,000 people led the funeral office. The funeral was attended by the Vatican Ambassador to Egypt, the Minister of Interior (General Mansour al-Issawi) and the Governor  of Giza.

Born as Michael Khalil on 9 July 1925 at Maghagha City (Minya Governorate), he completed his high college  and spent his early and primary school Bmgagh then moved to complete his secondary education school at El-Masai El-Mashkura College in Shebin El-Kom. On 1946, he received his his bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University. He then studied a 2-years Education diploma (1948) to work as teacher of Agriculture in Tanta for  two years.

At the age of 15, he joined the church village ministry convoys in Giza. During his university studies, he started teaching Sunday School at St Mark’s Church in Giza. Michael Khalil was a disciple of Father Mi9na the Hermit (the future Pope KyrillosVI).

On 29 April 1951, he was consecrated as a monk monk at the Syrian Monastery with the name “Fr Matthias”. As an Agricultural Engineer, he utilized his knowledge to improve the desert soil near the monastery and cultivate a farm. This was one of the earliest attempts to cultivate desert soil. On March 1953, he was ordained priest, then Hegoumen in April 1954 (which is remarkable as he was not yet even to his 30s).

When Fr Mina the Hermit was consecrated as Pope Kyrillos, Fr Matthias joined his secretariat. The former sent him in 1962 to support the growth of St Mina’s Monastery at Mariut. At the same time, Pope Kyrillos nominated him for the episcopate, which he refused. However, the Holy Synod selected him to become the Bishop of Giza and Pope Kyrillos consecrated him as Bishop Domadios of Giza on 31 March 1963. He was later promoted to the rank of Metropolitan by Pope Shenouda III on 2 June 1985.

In his later years, Abba Domadios suffered from a stroke which left him partially paralysed and confined to a wheel chair for many years, but in 2009 Pope Shenouda consecrated Bishop Theodosius as a General Bishop to assist him.

Translated with few additions from Dostour Newspaper

Coptic Language Summer School at King’s College, London

Father Peter Farrington has organised an intensive Coptic Language course which took place at King’s College, London. He reports on the successful event

The Coptic Language Summer School held at King’s College, London over the 5th-8th September was a complete success and even exceeded the expectations of those who participated, and myself who organised it.

Over four very intensive days of study a group of eight students progressed with growing understanding and enthusiasm through the first third of Thomas Lambdin’s Introduction to Sahidic Coptic through the inspiring teaching of Dr. Carol Downer, one of the few experts in Coptic teaching in the UK at the present time.

The group of participants included a variety of university lecturers from different institutions, several PhD students, and a handful of independent students such as myself. The class turned out to be ideally matched and we progressed through the studies at a very fast pace while also working together so that no-one was left behind.

We were fortunate to be able to hold the Summer School at King’s College, London, at the Strand campus, and some of the faculty and students at King’s were participants on the course. The excellent cafeteria facilities on site meant that we did not have to spend time each day looking for somewhere to have lunch together. The room we used was just the right size and had a view out over the Strand.

Many of the group were already competent in a variety of other ancient languages, but thanks to the teaching ability of Dr. Carol Downer even those of us whose willingness to learn was greater than our present grasp of Sahidic Coptic were soon able to translate increasingly complex sentences. Working through the exercises, both together in the class, and on our own in the evening, meant that the lessons we were learning took root.

By the end of the intensive course we were even able to begin to read passages from the Scripture with some understanding and each participant was able to measure the real progress they had made. Having studied the first third of our text book many of the class asked if a second and even a third such intensive week of studies could be organised in January and at Easter so that a more complete grasp of Sahidic Coptic could be acquired over the course of the year.

Some of the comments I have received from participants are as follows:

I absolutely loved the course – the atmosphere was friendly and open, and I felt welcome at once even though I am no language expert. It was just the push I needed to get me interested and motivated to continue pursuing Sahidic Coptic, and the encouragement and support I received has increased my love for the language even further.

I enjoyed the course immensely – and hope that the suggested January follow-up actually comes to fruition.
I very much enjoyed the course and found it extremely useful. The intensity of four days together was, I think, just about right and the group size and dynamic just enough to spur me on, without intimidation that can sometimes come with language learning. Carol is a wonderful teacher, and there were plenty of course materials provided so, overall, I have no suggestions for improvement. I’d certainly want to take another 4 day course as we discussed.
Plans are now underway for a second week of study in early January which will consider the next 10 chapters of pur text book.
From my own point of view, I am extremely pleased to have reached the end of the Coptic Language Summer School with a genuine grasp of the material we have covered. I shall certainly be reviewing it so that it isn’t lost, and will try to make use of it in the study of simple passages from Scripture. Having picked up Lambdin many times in the past, and put it down again because of difficulties studying on my own, I am very grateful that Dr Carol Downer has led me through these chapters.
Father Peter Farrington

Pope Shenouda in Hungary

His Holiness Pope Shenouda, accompanied by a number of  Coptic bishops, recently visited Budapest to receive an honorary doctorate from Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest for his outstanding academic work in humanities, especially in literature, philosophy and the history of sciences. On 19 August he was welcomed by the University’s President (György Fodor)  and Cardinal Péter Erdő. The next day, at the invitation of the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister, Zsolt Semjén, he attended celebrations for the Hungarian National Day. Mr Semjén, who is also responsible for religious affairs, said that the visit by Pope Shenouda was a landmark event in East-West religious dialogue. His Holiness participated in the official ceremony at the parliament building where he met President Pál Schmitt, who decorated him with the Hungarian medal of State. He then joined Zsolt Semjén to attend Mass in St Stephen’s Basilica. On 21 August His Holiness consecrated the first Coptic Orthodox inBudapest’s eighteenth district, during which he anointed and consecrated the altar and the icons.

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Upcoming events

1 February 2015
Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Doncaster

Raising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am

Morning Prayer: Babingley

10.30am Morning Prayer

7 February 2015
Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Shadwell

9.30 am Raising of Incense
10.00 am Liturgy of St. James
11.45 am Refreshments

8 February 2015
Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Doncaster

Raising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am

Morning Prayer: Babingley

10.30am Morning Prayer

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