Are non-Orthodox vis­i­tors welcome?

Yes, absolutely. We are a com­mu­nity made up of both cradle-born Ortho­dox Chris­tians and those who have con­verted to the faith. We are very com­fort­able with new­com­ers, inquir­ers, and vis­i­tors. Any­one who wishes to dis­cover ancient Cop­tic Ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity is welcome. If you have ques­tions, the parish priest will be happy to answer them. So don’t be afraid to ask ques­tions about what we do and why.

When you enter a church, some­one will greet you and direct you to a place to sit. We have books of our Divine Liturgy in Eng­lish, Cop­tic, and Ara­bic to every­one. In addi­tion, we have a large Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion that updates con­tin­u­ously dur­ing the Liturgy with the prayers. You may fol­low the ser­vice text, or, if you pre­fer, sim­ply close your eyes and enter into the Church’s beau­ti­ful wor­ship of God.

Fol­low­ing the Sun­day Divine Liturgy, you are invited to join us for a “cof­fee hour” which is a good time to get to know our parish mem­bers and meet our priests.

How long are the services?

On Sat­ur­day evenings, the Evening Rais­ing of Incense ser­vice (Ves­pers) is gen­er­ally 30–45 min­utes in length, includ­ing a short homily in Ara­bic or Eng­lish. On Sun­day morn­ings, a sim­i­lar ser­vice is cel­e­brated before the Divine Liturgy. After­wards, the Divine Liturgy is approx­i­mately 3 hours in length with an Eng­lish homily at approx­i­mately 9:30 a.m. and the Dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Mys­tery of the Eucharist from 11:00–11:30 a.m. We under­stand this may seem like a very long ser­vice, but we know that when you have par­tic­i­pated in an Ortho­dox ser­vice you will feel like you have truly wor­shipped the liv­ing God.

Is there a dress code?

The gen­eral rule for men and women is to dress appro­pri­ately, mod­estly and respect­fully, as before the liv­ing God. We ask that you not wear shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, low-cut or strap­less dresses (unless cov­ered by a sweater, etc.).

Is child­care provided?

Each par­ent is respon­si­ble to take care of their child. We encour­age chil­dren to be present in Church for the ser­vices. This par­tic­i­pa­tion is part of a child’s spir­i­tual for­ma­tion. How­ever, if your baby or child gets fussy, talk­a­tive, or has a melt-down, please take him or her out of the nave until he or she is ready to return quietly.

Is Sun­day school for chil­dren available?

On Saturday evenings, we pro­vide Sun­day school in small groups for chil­dren in grades K through twelve.

Stand­ing or sitting?

The tra­di­tional pos­ture for prayer and wor­ship in the Ortho­dox Church is to stand, as before the King of the uni­verse! In many churches in Egypt, there are typ­i­cally no pews in the churches. Chairs or benches on the side walls are usu­ally reserved for the elderly and infirm. In Amer­ica, we build our churches with pews or chairs, so you may sit. How­ever, it is appro­pri­ate to stand dur­ing the Gospel read­ing, the Anaphora through the Insti­tu­tion Nar­ra­tive, the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Holy Mys­tery, when the priest gives a bless­ing, and at the Dismissal.

Light­ing candles?

Light­ing can­dles is an impor­tant part of Ortho­dox wor­ship and piety. We light can­dles as we pray, mak­ing an offer­ing to accom­pany our prayers. Ortho­dox typ­i­cally light can­dles when com­ing into the church, but there are times when can­dles should not be lit. Can­dles should not be lit dur­ing the Epis­tle or Gospel read­ings, and dur­ing the ser­mon. You do not have to be an Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian to light a can­dle and pray!

Can non-Orthodox receive the Holy Eucharist?

Ortho­dox priests may only serve the Holy Eucharist to bap­tized mem­bers in good stand­ing of the canon­i­cal Ortho­dox Church, who have recently con­fessed, and fasted before par­tak­ing of the Holy Eucharist. This is the ancient tra­di­tion of the Holy Church for the 2,000 years of its his­tory. The Ortho­dox Church under­stands the Holy Eucharist as a mys­tery of the real pres­ence of Christ in the Eucharist, not sim­ply as a memo­r­ial, or merely in a spir­i­tual sense, as many other non-Orthodox Chris­tians do. Rather than try­ing to accom­mo­date to often vary­ing “inter­pre­ta­tions” or revi­sions of this and other doc­trines of the ancient faith, we sim­ply ask that you respect the ancient, apos­tolic tra­di­tion and join us in receiv­ing the Eulo­gia (blessed bread), at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

What are Ortho­dox wor­ship hymns like?

Between 65–75% of the tra­di­tional Cop­tic Liturgy involves con­gre­ga­tional singing. Cop­tic Chris­tians do not use musi­cal instru­ments with the excep­tion of the cym­bals and tri­an­gle, which are used sim­ply to keep musi­cal time. A choir of dea­cons leads the con­gre­ga­tion in har­mo­nious chant, usu­ally in Cop­tic, Eng­lish, and Arabic. Our hymns are solemn, prayer­ful and intended to lead the faith­ful to wor­ship the liv­ing God.

New vis­i­tors will find there are many new things to expe­ri­ence in a Cop­tic Ortho­dox Church ser­vice. Feel free to go at your own pace, ask any ques­tions you want, and know you are most wel­come to “come and see.”