edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
I am constantly told by people in the church on "how to talk to people". That how I speak to others is offensive. Well, a person who I have been speaking with for a while, was an atheist, and finally accepted that God must exist. He became interested in Orthodoxy. I invited him to church and even arranged a meeting with Abouna and told Abouna he was very interested in the Tasbeha and Vespers. Needless to say this man drives a good distance, with high gas prices, and he calls me while I am on the way and says that nobody is there. I called one of the deacons and he says they are at a birthday party and that they wont be there until 7ish(pm). So I am left to either A) Tell this guy the truth or B) Lie to him on behalf of the Church. So I call him and just give a general excuse saying it was my fault and what not. So basically I lied to this man. What does this say about how some of our people speak to non-believers? They dont care? Church is not that important? Nobody, from now on, EVER gets to tell me how to speak to anyone.

I am tired of constantly complaining to people at church about making the church more welcoming to non-believers, and I am shut down. I DO HAVE experience as an atheist and as a protestant I DO KNOW more than Abouna in these areas, that IS a fact. So why am I not listened to? Well the only reason I can think is because nobody actually DOES care. Can anyone tell how enraged I am?!

I dare anyone to post, because I am looking to shred the first smart ass to make a stupid defense of this kind of behavior.


  • You're fine Ioannes..

    Tell that person to first take the log out of their own eyes, before commenting on the speck of dust in yours.

    You're very zealous.. and maybe that comes across as aggressive.

    You're very Pro Orthodoxy, and you see it as something so precious, and let's face it, many Coptic Christians don't even understand the valuable spiritual heritage they have. They are just born Coptic Orthodox and that's it. They've got no idea on what they have.

    Its those who have suffered from protestantism and its fallacies who end up as Orthodox become the strongest defenders of our faith.

    Not in all cases however.. There is this Orthodox guy I know who was protestant before and he still prays in tongues (jibberish).

    I'd love to arrange a meeting between both of u.

    Relax habibi.. you're fine.
  • That is what upsets me. Nobody does or says anything because they do not want to "upset" anyone. But its ok to completely snub someone who clearly wants to learn about Orthodoxy. Where is the sense in that? I was so angry I did not even go to church, I am really really having a difficult time even liking the people there, including the priest. I cant NOT care like everyone else. Or have this stupid liberal hippie mentality towards everything. Sometimes people need smacked in the mouth (not always literally) and nobody is willing to do it.

    If you read the church fathers there is a distinct difference in how they speak to their congregation, which often times is very direct or even scolding, and how they speak to non-believers. And in both cases they may be saying the same thing, just with a different conviction. When your Orthodox more is expected of you, obviously, as opposed to being ignorant of Christianity as a non-believer.

    Truth be told, I would rather be direct and honest with our congregation and lose some of them, to make way for those who actually care. I have said it many times before, but I really think that I am not going back to this church, this is the last straw. There is no excuse for this blatant disregard for someone spiritual health.
  • I think Ioannes, all this is OK if you can talk to someone in private, especially if you are going to tell them something they are doing is wrong. If they don't listen, then you can get others in the Church.

    In Church, this sunday, our priest shouted at someone, and I hated this.. to be honest with u.

    Everyone felt humiliated. It wasn't really good.

    Maybe abouna had good intentions - but so what? He needs to find a more suitable way to draw people's attention.

    I don't get a rock and throw it at your face to remove a fly that's on your nose. Do I????
  • I am just speaking in general. People are lazy in our church. Nobody has to be pointed out specifically and you know this. I am saying that certain things need to be stressed. But its like, why the hell care if nobody else does, I get really tired of it. The main thing is, why would he do this to someone? I am sure that now he does not want to come to church now, he could have called me or something. It just seems like nobody cares so I am not going anymore.

    I remember Gandhi saying "I would be a Christian if it werent for Christians." How true is this statement? I wonder if he had gone to a Coptic church because that is exactly how I feel!!! 
  • haha. i know it's really not funny but i have to tell you that, even though i AM AN EGYPTIAN, i am also sick of egyptians.

    From what i understood from your situation in this specific occasion with your guest, i say you were asking too much of other people. meaning that you expected someone there in church to welcome the guy. i don't of you have told the deacons in advance or not but that should of happened. also, i personally don't recommend just sending unbelievers to church alone with out anyone with them. i think some may be overwhelmed with what happens and even lost at many times.....this is not a defense towards to what happened really.

    despite all of this thoo, how does this have to do with you being told "you need to learn how to talk to people"??

    I remember Gandhi saying "I would be a Christian if it werent for Christians." How true is this statement? I wonder if he had gone to a Coptic church because that is exactly how I feel!!! 

    he couldn't simply because the people who he was fighting against for freedom were Christian. i wouldn't go as far as using this against the whole Church but it is a good example of being Christian by action and not words.
  • Ioannes, while I hope you understand that I am not agreeing that what happened was ok, not all egyptians or churches are like this. They are a bit closed off to "outsiders" if you will but I think that would be natural simply because of the culture. Not an excuse, however. This post really is irrelevant but I would hate to see someone who has found the faith leave because a particular church is not what it should be. Have you thought of going to another church in a different area? (If possible?) And also, I know at times that being on good terms with the congregation is important but if you are constantly losing your peace, be selfish. Go for the services and just leave right after without dealing with anyone or anything. If you serve in other capacities do not neglect them because you will be judged on the responsibilities that were given you. Just go do what you need to and leave with minimal interaction with the congregation if that is what is bothering you. Do not lose the amazing gift you have fallen upon (orthodoxy) because of others. It is truly not worth it. You will ALWAYS find a problem in some matter or another in any church you go to, nothing is perfect. Do your best to avoid unnecessary heartache and focus on your relationship with God and thats it.

    My two cents..
  • Ioannes,

    Gonna keep it simple.  I think as Egyptians we're obsessed with morals, but we don't pay much concern for ethics.  We need to work on this.
  • mina, read what I wrote again or put on your glasses or something. I specifically told Abouna about this situation that way I could be positive someone would be there, I was actually on my way when the guy called and informed me that nobody was there. When I inform someone of this kind of situation, that is very important, I expect them to at least show up.

    Like I said stuff like this is constant. The same thing happened when my father and I came, we drove over an hour to get there, before I lived closer. Often times nobody showed up, or they came rediculously late. Needless to say only one of us still goes. This is not Christianity, this surely is not love.

    I am criticized for how I speak to others, yet when I get someone to actually take an interest in the church, they speak to him by snubbing him. Frustration is not even deep enough to express how upset I am.
  • I agree with you 100%.  I am extremely sick of Egyptians too and I have limited my interaction with them for my mental sanity.  There are more people who will defend what's clearly wrong than those who will stand up for what's right. The sad truth is that they don't realize that what they are doing is driving people away from church and away from Christianity.  Coptic churches are the least welcoming of any denomination and that's why you rarely see a non-Egyptian in a Coptic church, something that definitely needs to be addressed. You also have to realize that a lot of people who go to church do not go for spiritual benefit, it's more like a social gathering where they can meet others to find housing,job,spouse etc. Of course not all are like that but from my experience most are like that. 
  • I can relate to your situation, Ioannes. When I was still in the Roman Catholic church, I was sick of Roman Catholics (generally Euro-Americans, but that was just because I was in Oregon at the time). I think it is natural, in a way. I too was passed around from person to person, with no satisfactory answers given, and usually ignored or chastised, or privately they would agree with me but be very lazy or shortsighted about it. "Sure, we should have a more reverent Mass, but what can we do? If we take away the _____, people will stop showing up!"  ::) It occurred to me eventually that I wanted the RC church to be something it wasn't, and it was my problem to solve since I had a clear idea of the sort of church I thought I was getting into when I converted, and this wasn't it. That's how I eventually ended up in the situation I am in now where maybe, if I play my cards right, I too will one day get to be sick of Egyptians.

    I just hope that you will not stop struggling. Maybe you can find a different Coptic church to attend, or attend a different church in the non-Chalcedonian communion? If I didn't also have theological doubts about the RC church, this is what I would have done (and in fact did try to do for a little while, first with a different RC church in the same town, then with a Byzantine Catholic church in a different town).
  • It is difficult because there are no other OO churches close by, I might be able to attend one once a month, maybe. But I will not go to RC or EO. I want to go to an Ethiopian Church, they generally seem to care a bit more and have respect for converts and their opinions. It sucks because I have worked so hard to learn everything that is Coptic, I would have to learn everything all over again. The thing is, I have worked so hard to get here, overcome language barriers within the church, and the absurdity of the Egyptian behavior, it would suck to have to do it all over again. Then again I cannot just give it all up, I cannot turn my back on truth. These people are encouragable and never seem to be around, they are ALWAYS busy, so people are kind of left to their own to figure s**t out for themselves, and thats not right. It really seems as if people just show up because its their culture, they want to look good or whatever.

    Funny thing is, there is this white guy that comes, I dont know who he is or even his name. He shows up, participates, receives communion and then immediately leaves, so he too must had this same experience. And I am sick of the clergy and their pompous attitude, not all of them for instance Fr. Peter is wonderful. But they think they know everything and therefore an outside opinion is null and void. I think I will just bide my time until I can get to an Ethiopian Orthodox church, to be honest I cannot stand Egyptians anymore, and I mean that as an offense to every Egyptian here too.
  • Maybe the white guy used to be Roman Catholic, like me? Lots of RCs show up late, take communion, and leave immediately afterward even though the Mass is clearly NOT over. It used to drive me nuts, because 9 times out of 10 I would show up early. But slowly I learned to stop judging them because who knows why they do that? Maybe they can only be there for a small amount of time and don't want to miss the highest point of the service. And maybe they talked to the priest already and explained their situation and the priest approved it. I don't know. I always like to give everybody the benefit of the doubt no matter who they are, because you just never know. And you'd want them to do that for you if you were the one who had trouble.

    Anyway, yes...I think it's better to stay and struggle, but I meant if you absolutely cannot stay, it is better to stay in the communion than to go to another, or even worse to lose faith in God just because you've lost faith in people who serve Him. To be honest as a potential convert I sometimes worry about the things you mention, but I also know if God wants me to be Coptic Orthodox He will help me to endure anything with gladness. It is my job to show up, and God's job to show me His presence there. If people get in the way, that's a different issue. People will always get in the way between you and God.
  • Its just hard for me to only care about me. It really upset me because this was done to someone else, not me. Sad thing is I know how he feels.
  • Are you sick of Greeks?
  • [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=11114.msg134368#msg134368 date=1301344271]
    Are you sick of Greeks?

    the greeks that I know, I am quite fond of actually.
  • [quote author=Ioannes link=topic=11114.msg134371#msg134371 date=1301346023]
    [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=11114.msg134368#msg134368 date=1301344271]
    Are you sick of Greeks?

    the greeks that I know, I am quite fond of actually.

    Thanks. Me too
    I agree.

    I think this is from God.

    I was not sure about leaving the COC due to the protestant infiltration of it. I wanted to leave it and become Greek Orthodox.
    Now im taking your thread as a sign from God.

  • Ioannes, I know how you feel. For quite some time now, i get extremely irritated with egyptians and the things that they do, but i've learned to just remember that you go to church for God and not for the people. sometimes its better to just keep your distance. have a couple good friends, and thats enough. don't let these people and situations affect your relationship with God. He is the one that matters. I know its hard and way easier said than done but its worked for me so i hope it does for you too.
  • I love greeks too.

    Im going to join their church. I felt that God is encouraging me through your words.

    Our Church is too protestant
  • But not all churches and people are like that, right? I mean my church has welcomed a few non Coptic people....when I get to be a servant, I always wanted to welcomes as much people as I can... maybe there are some people like that at different churches, but you just haven't met them. I know my Abouna is soooo nice and is nice enough to welcome people at our church and teach them about the church, maybe you just haven't been at the right church, you know?

    Or maybe I don't know what I am talking about... But sometimes I do wish that there were more people in the world that cared.......PPFM.
  • Hey Ioannes, i completely understand how you feel but you should not let that get in the way of you and the church. God made you come to our church for a reason. Maybe what happened was something God wanted you to learn from. Be patient and i am sure God will help you and fix what has happened. Prayer is very strong and can fix all your problems, just pray to God that what happened is not repeated. I also love the fact that your bringing outsiders to our church, i wish i can do that. Thats a great service but comes with some responsibility as well. I understand what happened was not your fault. Pray for those people that they well be more welcoming and not do something to drive people away. Please , i ask you as a fellow Coptic Christian, give the church another chance and i am sure God will resolve all your issues. Keep in faith and i hope everything turns out alright. May God be with you.
  • [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=11114.msg134375#msg134375 date=1301348065]
    I love greeks too.

    Im going to join their church. I felt that God is encouraging me through your words.

    Our Church is too protestant

    First, not all Egyptians/Copts are exclusive to "outsiders" who want to join our church. Many are encouraging. Second, you think that Egyptians are the only ones that are lazy in attending vespers or exclusive in terms of visitors? You'd be surprised. An identical situation can easily have occurred in a Greek Orthodox Church. Greeks have a tendency to be exclusive as well. Don't let someone so silly shy you away from the church. The grass is always greener on the other side.
  • Just a suggestion, Try to make the appointment next time during a service and make sure you go too.. so even if the Priest is not there you can at least show the  person the church and talk to them till the Priest or servant shows up.. Or even better ask the Priest if you can put you in charge of bringing people (outsiders) to the church and maybe he can trust you with the keys and you can do introduction to the Church etc.

    What you really need to do is talk to the Priest privately, dont forget he is human and we all make mistakes but you should tell them that the church lacks this discipline, and perhaps also call your friend and maybe have him come another time or even go out of your way and pick him up (God will reward you for this).
  • [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=11114.msg134375#msg134375 date=1301348065]
    I love greeks too.

    Im going to join their church. I felt that God is encouraging me through your words.

    Our Church is too protestant

    Did you just say what I think you just said (Coptic Orthodox Church is too Protestant)? If so, then i don't know what to tell you.
  • This whole thing about going to church for God only and not the people?

    Aren't we there FOR the people as well?  Community?  How can we experience God's love and grace and able to practice it, if not for the community.  We're not individuals at the Liturgy, we're one body. Something is wrong if we can't experience community together.

    holy kiss, anyone?

  •   Zoxsasi, I see the irony of your protest.
  • I swear some people just post without reading what I wrote. Pharaoh, the church is not open all the time. I do not have a key and only a select few have them, so it was locked and there was no way to get in. User00, I never said Egyptians are the only ones, but of all the churches I have been to, it is clear to me that Egyptians possess this bad habit much more than others.
  • There is no doubt that the Coptic Church in the Diaspora is an ethnic Church. For centuries, the Egyptians have been persecuted and not allowed to share their faith. And so when the church expanded East and West, it remained closed to outsiders because sharing one's belief is foreign to the new immigrants. I am not trying to come up with excuses but these are facts that I have seen over and over again demonstrated in different parishes where outsiders non-Copts are kept out even the other Oriental Orthodox.

    The hope is in the new generation that is born and raised in the foreign land from which clergy would sprout and would feel comfortable opening to the outside world.

  • Also, if people are treating you like that just go attend the Prayers, partake of the Communion and then Go home and take care of your family which is more important.
  • i may be biased, but in my church we're very friendly to outsiders.
    i think a lot of egyptians and sudanese have learnt to distrust strangers because of terrible things that happened to them back home.
    i remember in another church, this old lady telling me how her son used to be bullied for his faith in sudan, and they always had death threats.
    then the day the priest's son was murdered, they just panicked and ran out of the country during the night.
    people like that will find it hard to make friends outside their trusted community, although this lady did finally talk openly with me after she saw me many times.
    i admit that some people are also just lazy, but that happens in any group or community.

    it takes time, much prayer, and patience. we are blessed with priests who are very welcoming, so the people follow their example.
    if your priest(s) are not welcoming to outsiders, maybe they have had some really bad experiences. it takes much love and prayer sometimes to encourage people out of their comfort zones.
    i, personally have had much more problems trying to make friends with and fit in to british churches (when i was protestant, also it took ages with the catholic church i went to) than with the copts. it could be that i am a bit loud  ;) but i think it's more because egyptian people aren't that bad  :)
  • Ioannes, I understand your frustration. I love my Coptic church more than anything, but I know it has its flaws. Nothing makes me sadder than when people don't show up for bible study and prayer meetings, etc. I used to be so diligent and showed up for everything, but when it felt like I was the only one who cared, I just...stopped going all the time. Stopped pushing other people to go... In retrospect I'm sad that happened. I wish I'd continued going and bugging other people to go, because the absence of all that stuff has had its effect on my spiritual life. Maybe God put you in that church for a reason? Its a fact that we egyptians really suck when it comes to this sort of thing, but maybe there's someone like us in every church for a reason? Someone to push people. Someone to do this less-than-fantastic job? Maybe God put you there because he wants to use you for their salvation?

    Who am I to talk, right? I think you've just convinced me to try harder. to go to meetings and call everyone I can for a ride so that they can go too.
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