As you can gather from our mission statement, St Paul Mission Church was started under the direct guidance and leadership of the Coptic Orthodox Church. But, unless you happen to come from an Oriental or Eastern Orthodox background, you may not totally understand what those words mean, and how they can be relevant to your personal spiritual journey.
You may have a lot of important questions, for instance:
Is there a difference between Coptic Orthodox Christianity and just simply Christianity?
The simple answer is “No,” our focus is not on the type of Christianity but rather on its authenticity, and we will explain more here. Is the Coptic Church a denomination of Christianity like the numerous others that exist? The simple answer is once again “No,” it is neither a denominational nor a nondenominational church, it is simply pre-denominational. I know you won’t find that word in the dictionary, so we will explain more here.
So lets start by defining some important terms:
What does “Coptic” mean?
Coptic is perhaps a vaguely familiar term for most. Recurring news of the persecuted Christians in Egypt may have introduced you to the term or you have heard it from a Coptic friend or perhaps from an event at a Coptic Church near you. The Greek root of the word literally means Egyptian; and as a product of a long history, the word has come to refer to the Christians of Egypt. While the root definition caries a cultural and ethnic connotation, the term also carries another important and an indispensible meaning that is of much more relevance to our mission community. The term is used to refer to the Coptic Orthodox Church, that ancient church founded by St. Mark the apostle in Alexandria in the first century. Similar to many ancient churches, the Coptic Church has its roots in one ancient city, Alexandria, Egypt in our case, but its teachings have always been universal from the very beginning. Founded at the prime cultural hub of the ancient world, the Church of Alexandria has championed the defense of the authentic Christian doctrine in the first four centuries of Christianity and it did that on a global scale. Its theological school of Alexandria was once the center of Christian education in the ancient world. Having suffered centuries of persecution while holding on to its faith without wavering, the Coptic Church is eager to reassert to the modern world the universality and relevance of the Christian message of salvation.
What does “Orthodox” mean?
Orthodox, perhaps slightly more familiar term, literally translated to “straight worship”, typically used to mean adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith. When you capitalize the “O” then you are referring to those ancient churches of the East that adhere to the original form of Christian doctrine and worship. The Bible is our main source of doctrine in the Orthodox Church and with it come the Tradition and the writing of Church fathers who teach us how the Bible has always been understood and practiced since the early days of Christianity. What may seem unique about the Orthodox Church to an outsider is the experience of Orthodox worship. Very ancient, rich and spiritual are the liturgies of the Orthodox Church that they will leave you contemplating the glory of God.
What does “Christian” mean?
Christian, a very familiar term - you know what it means. Well, do you? It is always worth asking that question again. There is so much confusion and stereotypes around that often times the basic message of Christianity is lost to many. The Bible teaches that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That is the central Truth of Christianity taught by Our Lord Jesus and ever since. For some, it may be very familiar, for others it is not easy to fully comprehend. The mark of this Truth is that it can bring change in your life as it did in millions of lives throughout the centuries. So to answer the question, a Christian is one who seeks God and whose life is transformed through the power of God. That this is truly possible may sound like a bold claim, but we invite you to come and examine it yourself.
There is certainly much more that can be said and learned, and so we encourage you to do some research. Here are some basic resources to get you started: What do we believe?
Our most basic statement of faith is the Nicene Creed that is accepted by all Christian Churches. Read the Nicene Creed here.
Do you want to know about the Coptic Orthodox Church? Check this introduction to The Coptic Church.
Also make sure to check our resources section which will be constantly updated with helpful information about Church History, Orthodox Worship among other topics.