• [quote author=epiphania link=topic=11114.msg134409#msg134409 date=1301372175]
    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.

    I would like to note that the flaws are with the people of the Church not the Church. Just mentioning that just in case someone thought different(non-orthodox people reading).
  • “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
  • Forgive me in advance for I have not read all the posts.

    There is definitely a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Copts toward new believers and non-believers. In my own church there are two white people who converted and one black guy. I don't think anyone really knows who they are (besides abouna and a handful of others). It is unfortunate and I, first of all, should be more proactive about it and thus am convicted by this thread.

    That said - I do believe there is some good to be found in this. The Orthodox church differs in that it does not advertise itself to unbelievers as a social club or community that is awesome to join. Where you will feel loved by all. In fact this is often not the case. In large churches like mine - half the congregation will not know your name. If someone misses a week most likely no one will call. Some newcomers to the Church come because they are looking for specifically those things - someone to call them, a sense of community, people who know and care about you. These are not bad things, don't get me wrong. But if this is how we are drawing believers into the church, how long will they last? As long as they feel a sense of belonging? I would much rather people exploring the Orthodox church join it for because of its mysterious sacraments and rich faith full of treasures. Not because they felt welcomed by the priest and enjoyed the services.
  • Unworthy1,

    I agree with you that there are people who are just looking for a sense of community, as others are looking for an experience of music, or art, or liturgical theatre.

    I guess that from my experience these are good and useful means of being drawn to take an interest in the Orthodox Faith, but must be replaced with a desire to know God and find satisfaction in God.

    NEVERTHELESS, a Church that is not a community seems to me to be missing something very important. A Church which does not go out of its way to make the stranger feel welcomed and able to participate is missing something very important.

    There should be those true servants whose ministry is that of making the stranger welcome, making sure they can follow the service, making sure they have someone to talk to afterwards, making sure that their name is remembered for their next visit, that their email address has been taken and they are sent a follow up message thanking them for attending.

    We have very little to offer in my small missionary community but we have always offered a genuine welcome and tried to be open hearted in our hospitality.

    I have been to Orthodox Churches, even as a priest, where I have been ignored, and it is not a pleasant feeling, or one that inclines a person to return.

    If we don't know half the people in our Church's names then we should at least know the names of the new Christians and visitors.

    God bless

    Father Peter
  • I agree with what you have said, father. This ministry is definitely lacking.

    Should we be inviting people who have no intention of becoming Orthodox to the liturgy? A part of me feels it is wrong to tell someone to come "try out" the church. Is this wrong? Should we be out there encouraging people to come to the church services? Or should there be steps before that happens?
  • I just thought about my experiences with the Coptic church. I'm Ethiopian, lived in Egypt for 5 yrs, I'm actually more familiar with the coptic church hymns, luturgy than Ethiopian. since I come here (6 yrs ago), I've been going to coptic church. I generally love the coptic church. I think the coptic church is doing very well in diasphora. I think you will be happy and proud of your church, If you were to compare it to Ethiopain or Eritrean church and the problems those churches and people face in diasphora. so know that there is worse problem. I'm really amazed about some of Coptic mission in Africa (by H.G Anba Marcos)  and in Brazil and  Bolovia.  Be also proud and thankful of H.H and our church leaders. But I don't if  the people are wellcoming. I've been going to church for 6 yrs in my area with my parents, still I don't have any egyptian friends. there are many people I know from my sunday school, youth meeting ...etc. but no really close friend. I love the church, abounas and has no problems. It's not that I don't want to socialize with people. Infact especially when I was new to this country with no english, having friends was important. It's really strange and it troubles me when  sometimes my sisters would brought this up. I don't know maybe it's a cultural thing.  It's healthy for people to have a sense of belonging. In my case, I've a sense of belonging to the church: Luturgy, Vesper and Abouna, but no to the people including my peers (youth).  I think It's important  both are important. I'm not really blaming anyone, there may also be faults on my part. Just talking about it helps I guess.
  • I have generally felt that it is better to have introductory programmes and liturgical activities rather than expect folk to just attend a liturgy. Indeed that might be the end of a process rather than the beginning.

    This is one reason I pray that God will grant me the support I need to spend time developing an Orthodox catechetical course. I would not recommend the Alpha Course.

    I would also suggest that just the evening Hour from the Agpeya be prayed simply and SLOWLY with a short talk and then time for conversation, as part of the outreach of the Church.
  • Although I have not visited very many Coptic Orthodox churches the first one I attended was St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church in Raleigh, NC.  As someone who is not Egyptian or Orthodox I was somewhat nervous about whether or not I would be welcomed and if I would stick out throughout the liturgy. 

    However since I arrived right when the liturgy began I was welcomed by a very tiny, but kind elderly man named Moussa.  Once he realized that I did not know Arabic and that I was a visitor he showed me a place to sit, gave me a liturgy book to follow along, had me write down my information (name, phone #, etc.) and even had the Abouna welcome me for visiting during the announcements.  This was very encouraging and helped me feel more at ease. 

    For those new to the church, people like this are very important.  Through his acts of kindness Moussa further increased my desire to learn about the Coptic Orthodox church and made me feel welcome in a community that is very often ethnically defined. 

    Hopefully others in the Coptic community can learn from people like Moussa who are kind and welcoming to strangers.  May we pray that the Lord moves in the hearts of his people to not only love him but to love our neighbors.
  •  Forgive me if I didn't reply to the topic of your thread.

     I do think it is a cultural issue.

      I pray to our Lord for peace in your heart and mind.
      I think Gandhi who so loved the beatitudes and made them a principle in his life, maybe would of quoted this verse:
      'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of GOD.'

      You are enthusiastic, and I think the egyptians a bit conserative, do things at a different pace, or see things should be done at a different pace. Not seeing  either side changing, can only change the way we react to the difference.
  • The source of this problem Yoannes is that church outside of Egypt has become a social and cultural event because people can't really get that outside of church, and I think that is a problem. A lot of people, specially the youth, come to church to talk and play. Meetings, Sunday school and even liturgies sometimes become forums for discussion about things that have nothing to do with their spirituality and people usually go as a matter of habit or duty. Although strangers are often welcomed, I can see how they would feel unwelcomed because they are not Egyptian.
  • hi, pauli,
    i'm sorry u don't have close friends in your church. i pray that God will give you that. i suppose u r not in uk, if u r, send me a personal message in case i have friends in your church.
    father peter,
    yes i agree. once we prayed vespers 100% in english for some visitors from the surrounding churches.
    it was awesome, we concentrated on the words, and God bless us very much.
    yes, there are churches which are more like social clubs, which is tragic as people take all the beauty of the liturgy for granted and just go there to chat. we can help this by starting discussion on spiritual topics when we meet together after the liturgy. of course we also have to discuss how the kids are going in school and how was grandmother's operation, but we should also pray about these issues and discuss practical ways to love our neighbours and learn more about God.
  • Ioannes,

    God gave you a great blessing. He put you in this Church for a reason, sometimes you have to be proactive in starting conversations with others, what you don't know is when you start a conversation with a Coptic, just over that one conversation they will be your friends. Don't tell me otherwise, you can't be all inclusive because you are a convert, true you need support and help sometimes, but you go there for God. Your there to worship God and not to judge other people. Through this Church, God blessed you. You know when His Holiness visits, you can ask Abouna to go with him to see him, tell you what, next time you see Abouna, ask him if you can go with him to meet the pope. Imagine God chose for you a big church, what would you do! He placed you in a really nice church, and your lucky that these are the friendliest Copts ever, its like one big family. Its up to you Ioannes to interact with others and not be all inclusive, like during aghapy (after the mass when people eat with each other- usually in basement of Churches). Then gradually you'll start feeling like one of them, getting invited to birthday parties, going out, etc. Trust me on this one. God loves you, if you show mercy on others, God will show it to you. Do not judge or condemn others. You are doing a great job in soaking it all in. Try to be humble and obedient like the monks are, like the desert fathers are. Do not say you know more than Abouna, even if you do, follow his advice and be obedient and humble. Trust me, nothing is better when you are obedient and humble. As you know the story in the Bible, would you rather be sitting at the high chair in the banquet and get moved down to sit even outside of the banquet table or would you rather be homeless and be seated at the highest seat in the banquet table. I know that you are fed up of being treated like an outsider. But blend in and yo will be accepted. Try that for next time. Look at your own self, do not look at others. Will others go to heaven for you? or you will? will others be judged for you? or you will? My bretheren, Also why do we judge and condemn protestants? Do they not believe in the same God as we do? Let God judge them, andl let us focus on our own path and salvation. For we are in a race, and lets say if we look away from the finish line at lets say we get distracted by a spectator doing something, we will surely slow down or even fall. Let our eyes look towards the finish line.

    Glory be to God Amen
  • I might be the least of all to say anything but As pharoh123 said, the church in Diaspora has become a community center than a place of worship.  This is the same whether in Ethiopian, Egyptian, Syrian, or any other Oriental churches.  The reason, I think, is that churches are the only places that we get to talk in our mother tongue, makes us feel at home, socialize, and so on.  The other thing I think is that we have not develop the habit of going to people that are not from the same country as we are and talk to them.  There could be many reasons for this; language can be one of them.  Of course this does not apply to all the churches and all the people at all the churches.  But, one should keep in mind that when we go to church, we go there to worship God, not to make friends.  People can hate us or like us.  In either case, we should always look at the cross.  What are we going to do if we go to another church and the same thing happens?  Are we going to go to another one?  What guarantee do we have that the next one is not going to be the same as the previous one?  Switching churches for this or that reason might be a temptation and a trap of the devil to ultimately get us out of the church.  So let us be aware of the temptation, be wise, pray hard, and give God a chance to show us the way to deal with the problem. 

    Keep me, the sinner, in your prayer 
  • Ioannes, you're not alone.  I am tired of Egyptians.  I don't try to change the way I speak anymore because it's not about the way you speak, they're probably offended by what you're saying.  In my case, it's both.  Even if I speak in the most polite tone, they are still offended.
  • Either way, Yoannes learn to go to Church for yourself and ignore others. You're there to pray for your own soul. Raise this issue with a priest and if not, pray for these people and ignore what's going on around you. And to your friend who wants to convert, explain this issue to him. If he joins the Church based on belief rather than if he likes the people around him or not, he'll truly start off right.
    And if you ever get a chance, visit monasteries in Egypt, you'll be really impressed with the quality of spirituality and deep prayers you witness there. It is truly a great experience. 
  • Honestly Ioannes
    i completely agree with you that somebody should have been there,

    but then again we can not criticize a whole race for the actions of a specific group of people.
    also we do not know the circumstances of the people.

    sometimes them being late or not there is out of pure carelessness,  but it could also be something that they could not control.

    Just pray for them and the rest of the church that we are Christians by action also.
    Remember me in your prayers
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