deacon in another orthodox church.

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Is it possible for a deacon, in the Coptic Orthodox Church go to an Armenian orthodox church and dress as a deacon their. Or is it not allowed. 


  • It is exactly the same as dressing as deacon in Egypt, then doing the same in the US
    This happens often, but is not technically correct without some sort of bishop's permission
  • Oh ok but which churches are one in communion with us. I know the Ethiopian, Syrian Armenian... what else.

    But it sounds like it would be a fun experience going to another orthodox church. It’s like trying something new.
  • Armenian, Indian, Syrian, Eritrean and Ethiopian.

    You should make sure you have permission of your own priest to serve, and have asked the priest whose congregation you intend to visit that you might vest and serve.
  • Ok thanks Fr. peter and qawe  :) also lets say a Coptic person go's to another orthodox church with his (Coptic tonia) does he wear the Coptic tonia or does he have to change to the other churches' tunic. If the other church has a different vestment.
  • [quote author=markmarcos link=topic=13455.msg157221#msg157221 date=1340981010]
    Ok thanks Fr. peter and qawe  :) also lets say a Coptic person go's to another orthodox church with his (Coptic tonia) does he wear the Coptic tonia or does he have to change to the other churches' tunic. If the other church has a different vestment.

    In general, you should always follow the discipline of the host Church.

    For example, if one serves in the Coptic Church in Kitchener as a chanter, and by local custom does not wear a stole, but is visiting the Coptic Church in Mississauga, and is asked to wear a stole, he should conform to the norm of the Church he is visiting.

    If you are visiting a tradition that you are not familiar with, you should tread very carefully and make sure you avoid doing or not doing anything out of unfamiliarity with the customs there that might cause offense. You would need to contact the priest of the church before your visit, and ask him if he will bless you to serve there as a {chanter/reader/as appropriate}... don't say deacon or they may think you are an actual deacon, depending on the tradition! You would then follow any instructions given, wearing your tonia if they tell you to do so, or wearing whatever they loan to to wear if they choose to do so.

    But remember that you are a guest there.

    When a bishop gave you the tonsure, and consecrated you as a reader, he said something along the lines of "I ordain you, name, a reader for the service of the alter of the Church of name in the city of name". If you since moved to another Church, and that priest gave you permission to serve there, you have in effect transferred parishes. But you serve in your home parish only with the blessing of the priest there, and anywhere else you are a guest, whether another Coptic Church, or another Oriental Orthodox Church.

    There is a false idea popular today that if you have been made a reader, you are duty bound to dress and serve at any Liturgy you attend, in any Church. This is not the historic norm. Normally, you would need permission from your bishop, and the host bishop to serve in another Church. Because the minor orders have become so watered down today, and everyone is a part of it, the norm now is for your priest and the host priest to give permission. But this does not mean that it is your duty, or right, to dress everywhere you go. The most respectful thing would be to visit, introduce yourself, have fellowship with the people there in love, and dress only if compelled to do so by the community you are visiting, and only if you have previously cleared this with your priest.
  • Id like to thank Jonathan for his helpful posts.
  • To add to the above:

    Generally, if you are going to an area that you are not known, it makes it easier if you present the receiving priest with an introductory note from your parish priest.  You have to realize that some priests are nervous relative to the possibility of a person
    being in a ban or whether they are cleared for the sacraments.

    Be careful of traditions in the other Oriental Churches, ie, the censer is used by different ranks of the diaconate.  In the Coptic Church (except in Jerusalem), no one of the diaconate may use the censer or raise incense.

    I have been serving on a visiting basis in the Armenian Church for quite some time (having permission from both sides of the jurisdictions).  It is a wonderful and beautiful Rite, but it is quite different from the Coptic Church. 

    I agree strongly with Jonathan, do not go beyond any boundaries of function for a given rank in the Coptic Church when visiting an Oriental Church.  Unless your tonia is dirty and wrinkled, they will invariably allow you to wear your tonia.  Otherwise, they will offer you a "shabig" (Armenian Tonia). 

    I would also notch it up in appearance relative to going to a Coptic Church.  When entering an Oriental Church, you become an appearing ambassador for the Coptic Church.
  • BTW:  We get vested, not "dressed".
  • I understand thanks every one you answered all my questions :)
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=13455.msg157228#msg157228 date=1340989035]
    BTW:  We get vested, not "dressed".

    No, No, we "dress up". That's what I've been told at Church, so it must be true (actually it is often sadly true).
  • Jon,

    I know what you mean.
  • I don't see anywhere that it has been said that someone visiting another congregation should never serve. But such service is never a right, it is always a privilege, even in one's own congregation, how much more so in another congregation.

    Diaconal service begins with waiting on tables in the New Testament. It is therefore a matter of humility. So one in the minor ranks of service should be humble at all times and especially in another congregation, seeking all necessary permissions, and waiting to be asked to serve.

    If some one visited me and said, 'Father, I am a subdeacon and I have brought my tonia if my service is needed today', then that seems to be the appropriate attitude.
  • I am certainly not a deacon, I am only a reader :)

    A priest can never just switch from one Church to another because he wants to. He can only go where he is sent by his bishop, and a bishop should only every move a priest away from the altar for which he was ordained for very serious reasons. A priest can certainly go serve a congregation without a priest, or fill in for a priest on vacation, or even attend a saints feast day in a church dedicated to that saint on a weekday, and certainly the priest there will welcome him to pray with him.

    But imagine if a priest arrived at his church to pray the Liturgy and found a neighbouring priest there he hadn't expected had already started 5 minutes earlier. Or imaging a priest doesn't like his church, and starts going to another Church, and just starts serving there with no command from his bishop, and no invitation from the priest. He just expects to give the sermon, and pray the Liturgy, and become one of the priests there by his own choice. We know this is wrong, yet chanter and readers do this type of thing all the time, just go to another Church and feel that it is their right to dress because a bishop prayed for them to be set aside as a chanter or reader, and don't look at the prayers the bishops said that set them aside for a particular altar.

    When my priest goes on vacation outside his own diocese, he goes to a church if there is one there so he can have communion. The priests always try to drag him to dress/vest and serve with them. But he politely declines, and does not, because he has no permission from his bishop to serve outside his diocese, and no permission from the bishop of the diocese he is visiting to serve there. This is proper.

    For sources, the rites of ordination/consecration for a chanter or reader clearly specify the altar they are set aside to serve. The canons of Nicaea give hints of this (see canon 15 in particular). Eusebius' Church history paints a picture of the early Church with order we don't follow much today. There are many sources, I'm afraid that I can't point you to one. But I know there is no reliable source for the common belief today that one has the right to dress in any Coptic Church because they were made a chanter or a reader for one Church, or that they have a duty to.

    Very often, chanters and readers from other Churches will come, and just come forward to dress without even introducing themselves to the priest, let alone asking his permission. They will then go around "correcting" the chanters and readers of that Church for things that they are supposedly doing wrong, that are either optional rites different from the Church they serve, or errors they have been taught. This is not how it should be. Imagine if a priest just showed up out of nowhere and started telling the priest of that church he should do certain things differently.

    The minimum to serve in another Church as a chanter or reader, is to have the permission of the priest where they serve, and the permission of the priest of the Church they wish to serve in.
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