Visit Us!

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 priests 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 for anyone to use. In addi­tion, we have a large slideshow pre­sen­ta­tion that updates con­tin­u­ously dur­ing the service with the prayers for easy following. 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 Eng­lish. On Sun­day morn­ings, a sim­i­lar ser­vice is cel­e­brated before the Divine Liturgy. After­wards, the Divine Liturgy is approx­i­mately 2.5 hours in length with an Eng­lish homily at approx­i­mately 10:00 a.m. and the Dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Mys­tery of the Eucharist from 11:00–11:30 a.m. Just so you know, the liturgical prayers we use (written by St. Basil) are the shortened version of the original 5+ hour liturgy of the early church. Although you may not see it at first, each prayer is intentional and very critical to the liturgical service. The centre of our life as a church family is the Eucharist; each prayer is vital in preparing us to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

We understand that our services may be not what you are used to and therefore we advise you to join us for one of our group meet-ups first. However, if you feel ready to plunge in to the deep end first, then please do!

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 Sun­days, we pro­vide Sun­day school in small groups for chil­dren from nursery through to 18 year olds. Sun­day school begins after the chil­dren have received the Mys­tery of the Eucharist and lasts for around 30 minutes.

Is there anything for others?

We have regular weekly or monthly meetings for all kinds of groups including youth, adults and senior citizens. We also run several programmes and activities throughout the year – there’s something for everyone.

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 the West, 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!

What’s the deal with the incense?

In the Orthodox Church, incense represents prayers and repentance that ascend into heaven.  Each time the priest passes by with the censor, your prayers and those of everyone in the church are rising before the throne of God Himself. Don’t believe it? “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” ~ Revelation 5:8

Who are all these images of?

One of the first things you will notice is an abundance of images, or icons. Icons are written in a very specific style, used universally in the Coptic Orthodox church. They are there to help us to pray and are deliberately made to look unrealistic to differentiate the icons from idols to avoid worship or prayer to the image itself. Some of these icons depict the Lord Jesus Christ, others depict the angels and the saints. A constant feature of Orthodox worship is veneration of the saints and in particular, the Virgin Mary. We often address her as “Theotokos,” which means “Bearer of God.” The saints who have departed this world are still alive, and very much a part of our church. We believe that they are the victorious church (since they have finished their race and received the prize of eternal life) and we are the struggling church here on earth.  We do not pray to saints, contrary to popular belief, but we ask for their prayers on our behalf the same as you would ask a spiritual father or friend to pray for you. We also believe that the church is Heaven on earth and that although the saints are not with us in the physical church they are with us in the heavenly Church, praying with us and for us.

Can non-Orthodox receive the Holy Eucharist?

Ortho­dox priests may only serve the Holy Eucharist to bap­tised 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 or tempo. A choir of dea­cons leads the con­gre­ga­tion in har­mo­nious chant. Our hymns are solemn, prayer­ful and intended to lead the faith­ful to wor­ship the liv­ing God. Participation is key if you hope to stay focused during the liturgical prayers. These hymns of the church pack a lot of meaning, not only in the words but also in the tune itself. Each season of the church has its own tunes and hymns.

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.”