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Author Topic: Frustration with the Coptic Orthodox Church  (Read 1048 times) Average Rating: 0
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copticboy7
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« on: July 29, 2012, 01:48:19 AM »

This is something that has been bothering me for quite some time now, and I really must get it off my chest. Let me start by saying that I love the Coptic Orthodox Church and I truly believe it to be the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

But I am so darn frustrated.

I have been born and raised in the Church, and some of the things that I have seen have made me very sad. I'll put them in numbered form to try to add some organization to this.

1) Protestant influences on the Church. Today I attended a missionary parish that I will not name, and was very disappointed to see Protestant hymns being played during the time of communion. My closest friend are mostly Protestant, so I know and have come to enjoy these hymns, but during the liturgy? It just doesn't seem right.

2) A huge lack of evangelism to non-Christians. The missionary parish that I attended has a stated goal of evangelizing to the surrounding community. But even within this Church, the Priest (a man that I very much love, absolutely nothing against him) is not fluent in English, making it very difficult for any American or non Arabic speaker to feel at home. That's not even touching on all the strictly ethnic parishes where evangelism to non-Egyptians seems nonexistent.

I guess I don't understand why Protestants and Catholics are so much better at this.

3) A lack of focus on the teachings of the Fathers. Again, I love the Church so, so much, but the lack of emphasis on the teachings of our Holy Fathers is very disappointing.

Am I being too cynical here guys? Feel free to rebuke me if I am totally off base here, I just wanted to get these thoughts out there and see what people have to say.
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2012, 02:28:55 AM »

While I am not Coptic or even OO, I can say with certainty that you are witnessing heretical praxis entering the church you are in. I have many OO friends who are witnessing this in the Ethiopian and Coptic churches, almost to the T.
You have every right to expect your church to uphold the "Fathers" and keep the liturgy in tact.

It is such a shame. The Coptic church is beautiful although, in America she seems to be detached from her roots. The over-arching issue in all of this is that we orthodox in America have a serious issue that will have to be resolved for unity and validity in evangelism, to hold to the faith while working towards the goal of mutual recognition between the EO and OO churches. How it will look when we get there, or even on the road toward this goal? I don't know. Maybe we need the US to be our testing ground. The EO church needs to work out its own issues first, but I believe that is happening.
Stay hopeful, my brother, and pray for our situation.

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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2012, 02:40:48 AM »

This is something that has been bothering me for quite some time now, and I really must get it off my chest. Let me start by saying that I love the Coptic Orthodox Church and I truly believe it to be the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

But I am so darn frustrated.

I have been born and raised in the Church, and some of the things that I have seen have made me very sad. I'll put them in numbered form to try to add some organization to this.

1) Protestant influences on the Church. Today I attended a missionary parish that I will not name, and was very disappointed to see Protestant hymns being played during the time of communion. My closest friend are mostly Protestant, so I know and have come to enjoy these hymns, but during the liturgy? It just doesn't seem right.

2) A huge lack of evangelism to non-Christians. The missionary parish that I attended has a stated goal of evangelizing to the surrounding community. But even within this Church, the Priest (a man that I very much love, absolutely nothing against him) is not fluent in English, making it very difficult for any American or non Arabic speaker to feel at home. That's not even touching on all the strictly ethnic parishes where evangelism to non-Egyptians seems nonexistent.

I guess I don't understand why Protestants and Catholics are so much better at this.

3) A lack of focus on the teachings of the Fathers. Again, I love the Church so, so much, but the lack of emphasis on the teachings of our Holy Fathers is very disappointing.

Am I being too cynical here guys? Feel free to rebuke me if I am totally off base here, I just wanted to get these thoughts out there and see what people have to say.
Stay grassroots.  Begin serving in that Church and teaching your students the Orthodox faith.  You'll gain a following.  Become active so that you may change the practices from the ground up, and not from the top down, as that leads to contentions quick.
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2012, 02:48:39 AM »

1) Protestant influences on the Church. Today I attended a missionary parish that I will not name, and was very disappointed to see Protestant hymns being played during the time of communion. My closest friend are mostly Protestant, so I know and have come to enjoy these hymns, but during the liturgy? It just doesn't seem right.

I have heard often about this sort of thing happening, but have yet to witness it myself. Granted, I have just been in our tiny community of St. Bishoy in Albuquerque, NM, which is served by two priests from the churches in Arizona, which as far as I know are not specifically deemed "missionary parishes". I'm not quite sure what's different between those that call themselves that and a regular Coptic parish. Can you explain that to me? We already use English only for 75-80% of the liturgy, and those parts that are in Arabic or Coptic are provided in translation in both the service books and the Powerpoint slides, so this part is not really a problem. How is it different in a missionary parish? Is that "Coptic code" for "plays Protestant songs during liturgy"? I agree with you, that is highly inappropriate. If you can speak Arabic, have you talked to the priest (gently) about this? Or any of the laity? If they were not responsive, have you considered taking your concerns to the bishop? I do not think that there is any excuse or reason to use Protestant songs in any part of the liturgy, ever.

Quote
2) A huge lack of evangelism to non-Christians. The missionary parish that I attended has a stated goal of evangelizing to the surrounding community. But even within this Church, the Priest (a man that I very much love, absolutely nothing against him) is not fluent in English, making it very difficult for any American or non Arabic speaker to feel at home. That's not even touching on all the strictly ethnic parishes where evangelism to non-Egyptians seems nonexistent.

The language issue can be a big problem, yes. We are blessed in our community to have two priests who do speak English fluently (though the level of English fluency among the laity varies greatly; I am the only native English speaker), but I know not all are so lucky. I would get up on my high horse about this, but who am I kidding? I don't speak Arabic fluently at all, and since I know how hard it is to learn, I cannot condemn priests who try to do their best with the knowledge that they do have, and hopefully improve their knowledge of the language so as to be a more effective shepherd in the lands of immigration. For Holy Week celebrations this year we had a priest assigned to us directly from Egypt (a great honor) who did not speak any English. This was a special challenge and blessing for me. Smiley But outside of occasions like that, I think we can all pray that as the Church grows in the diaspora, its integration within the new societies it find itself in is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit, which has already seen Coptic Orthodox churches established in Latin America (where they use the national language), the Pacific, Europe, etc. Hopefully, as time passes this becomes less and less an issue. If I had more knowledge of Arabic myself, I would certainly offer to work with the priest to help him learn English. I already do that in a way with our deacons, though it is limited since they have to know enough to describe to me they word they want: "it is, you know...like...fkayf taqulu ____ bil ingliziya?"  Roll Eyes

Basically: Work with what you have, and try to improve it if you can. Remember that only a few short decades ago we wouldn't have even had so many churches in the West to complain about in the first place. I myself moved 1200 miles from home before I could attend a Coptic Orthodox Church, and even then it is only twice a month if we are lucky, since we are served by priests who have to travel hundreds of miles to serve us. God bless them for their commitment to strengthen our tiny community and its faith.

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I guess I don't understand why Protestants and Catholics are so much better at this.

Are they, or does it seem that way to you because most of your friends are Protestants and they are probably more upfront about their evangelistic efforts? I think we do have some things to learn from Catholics and Protestants, but we should be careful that they are the right things, and not the wrong things. Or even better: We should recover the evangelistic zeal of our own Orthodox fathers, who certainly spread the faith throughout the world without the catchy pop songs and "feel good" vapid theology of the Protestants, or the political entanglements and aspirations of the Catholics. Rather than looking at everyone else as better, look to the best among us, because that's what we have already. If the problem is cultural, and the Copts aren't "American" (or "European" or whatever) enough yet, then bring the faith as you can, in terms that you can use to relate to the people that you live among (I am assuming that you don't live in some kind of Coptic ghetto where you never interact with non-Copts). The Syrians who evangelized the Ethiopians did not share a common culture with them, and yet they still brought the truth...which is attractive to all people. In fact, I would say the biggest problem in evangelizing in the West is that everyone thinks they've already heard the Christian story. In a way, they're right, but they probably haven't heard the Orthodox story (I'm not painting Orthodoxy as anything other than Christian, just saying that in the USA at least, Christianity has come to mean everything, and by that, actually means very little, or almost nothing cohesive; this is the reality we struggle against). You have to believe that we can bring them that, because it was brought to us, too (whether recently, in my case, or nearly 2000 years ago, in the case of the Copts, Syrians, etc).

Quote
3) A lack of focus on the teachings of the Fathers. Again, I love the Church so, so much, but the lack of emphasis on the teachings of our Holy Fathers is very disappointing.

I have not noticed this in my own community, but I know it is a problem overall. As someone who is very interested in the Fathers, I have noticed (well, I didn't notice it myself so much as I agreed with Professor Sebastian Brock, translator and compiler of many books on Syriac Christianity, when he said it in an interview) that there is a big problem in that the writings of the Fathers are not very accessible. Sure, there are several translations of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers that are available as cheap paperbacks, and Fr. Peter has done us all a great service by heading the Oriental Orthodox Library, but an average person could go broke on $100+ books on non-Chalcedonian Christology, the writings of St. Severus, St. Dioscoros, etc. These things are treated as though they are or should be mainly the interest of historians and other academics, leaving laypeople like you and I out in the cold, or at best dependent on poorly translated or even poorly translated AND expensive pamphlets, or whatever we can find online via PDF. I am happy with those PDFs, but not happy that I have to be happy with them, if you know what I mean.

Again, whatever resources you have or can find, use them to the fullest, and share them.

Quote
Am I being too cynical here guys? Feel free to rebuke me if I am totally off base here, I just wanted to get these thoughts out there and see what people have to say.

I don't think you are being too cynical. We have real problems to face, as any church does. The question is how to do that. I don't think lamenting how others are better than we are is the answer. Not only do I not think it is true, I don't think it will help to fix anything. What will help to fix things is if we see how we can help remedy some of these problems. Like, you might not be able to teach the priest you mentioned English, but you obviously know English, so what is stopping you from bringing any curious people you know to the Church and explaining how the liturgy works, what such-and-such a phrase means, or answering whatever other questions they might have? I know it's a big responsibility, but you can't expect the priest to do it himself, and for all you know he might have ended up where he is now because there wasn't a more suitable (English fluent) priest available at the time. During the Holy Week celebrations I mentioned with the priest from Egypt who didn't speak English, I obviously didn't understand the majority of the sermon, so I had to ask one of the deacons to give me summaries of it. But even then, I started from what little I could understand: "I thought I heard Father say 'without the resurrection, there is no Christianity'. Is that what he said? What else did he say connected to that?", etc.

When there is a will to work through the problems, people will work through the problems. No church is without problems, and yet all have flourished in difficulty because men have been willing to do their part in cooperation with God.
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2012, 10:48:27 AM »

I share the exact same sentiments, brother. I know how you feel. I am not sure I can give any more advice other than what Mina has said. I think that would be a good start.

I likewise detest the use of Protestant garbage songs in the Church. They are far more based on emotion and self-satisfation than a true and rich experience of God.
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2012, 04:50:12 PM »

Sure, there are several translations of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers that are available as cheap paperbacks, and Fr. Peter has done us all a great service by heading the Oriental Orthodox Library, but an average person could go broke on $100+ books on non-Chalcedonian Christology, the writings of St. Severus, St. Dioscoros, etc.

Non-Chalcedonian writers, perhaps. But pre-Chalcedonian works can easily be obtained in modern, readable editions. The SVS Popular Patristics series, for example, contains more than 40 paperbacks with works by people such as St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, etc. none of which are particularly pricy. The whole set of the Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Father are all available on ccel.org in searchable pdf. format.

A lack of engagement with the Fathers among the laity is a problem accross the board, whether EO or OO (although at least among EO it is rare not to encounter them during the weekly sermon), but lack of access is really is no excuse for it. The problem is a lack of encouragement and help from the clergy - who should not simply cite the Fathers or tell people to read them, but also show them what to read, where to start, and how to find them - and a general lack of interest among the laity.

Copts tend to be very devoted to the reading of Scripture. Given how many patristic commentaries on Scripture there are, and how insightful they tend to be, I think the Coptic Church of all places would be fertile ground for a patristic revival.
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 05:53:40 PM »

Sure, there are several translations of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers that are available as cheap paperbacks, and Fr. Peter has done us all a great service by heading the Oriental Orthodox Library, but an average person could go broke on $100+ books on non-Chalcedonian Christology, the writings of St. Severus, St. Dioscoros, etc.

Non-Chalcedonian writers, perhaps. But pre-Chalcedonian works can easily be obtained in modern, readable editions. The SVS Popular Patristics series, for example, contains more than 40 paperbacks with works by people such as St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, etc. none of which are particularly pricy.


Yes, it is a great series, but there are too few like it. It seems to be the exception, and not the rule. A great many more books from the likes of Gorgias Press, Oxford, etc. that are dedicated specifically to Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, or other OO writers and topics are prohibitively expensive.

Quote
The whole set of the Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Father are all available on ccel.org in searchable pdf. format.

Yes, and I make use of it often. I am glad that I have internet and all that so that I can take advantage of their resource and others like it. I am probably a minority in that respect as concerns the church as a whole, though.

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The problem is a lack of encouragement and help from the clergy - who should not simply cite the Fathers or tell people to read them, but also show them what to read, where to start, and how to find them

This is one way to put it, sure. But again this would be helped if there were more out there that was actually available to people -- not just internet-savvy people, or academically-minded people, but everyday people. SVS and Cisterian Publications should both be praised for making cheap and widely available editions of critical texts and authors, but a great many other things are unavailable, or only available in multiple editions that add up quite quickly, unless a person is satisfied by cheaper collections that are usually rather piecemeal in their quotations from the Fathers, interspersed with critical (unnecessary) commentary from Protestant or Catholic commentators/translators or other sources.
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2012, 09:21:39 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
While I am not Coptic or even OO, I can say with certainty that you are witnessing heretical praxis entering the church you are in. I have many OO friends who are witnessing this in the Ethiopian and Coptic churches, almost to the T.
You have every right to expect your church to uphold the "Fathers" and keep the liturgy in tact.


Excuse me but what Ethiopian parishes have adopted Protestant practices or have neglected the Fathers? Oh to be sure, we have plenty of problems like any other Church or jurisdiction, but Protestantization does not seem to be one of them Wink

In regards to the OP.  I've seen Protestant hymns in the Coptic Church, and yes, it hurt my feelings too.  However, I paused and reflected that at the least, these folks were still in the Church, and God can heal them and us through the Divine Mysteries inevitably albeit gradually.  Now more to the point..

We ALL get frustrated at out Church, period.  We all go through this in different ways, at different times, for different reasons.  Check the reality, the Church is a human institution cooperating in synergy with God's perfect Grace.  God allows the human imperfections to remain in the Church, out of His mercy that all can come to repentance in His time.  We will run into conflict, drama, and unease.  Like Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4

Quote
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,

The Church challenges our Faith, and the closer we get to God, the closer we need to be getting to each other.  However, like in any family, the closer we humans get to each other, the more often we bump into each other, ruffle each others feathers, push each others buttons. At the Church, this is no different than in anywhere else human beings congregate and live.  So we need to find prayer, to find the Grace of God to get through it all relatively unscathed.  Keep the Faith, Christianity is rarely easy, but is always worth it in the long arc.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2012, 10:29:55 AM »

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1) Protestant influences on the Church. Today I attended a missionary parish that I will not name, and was very disappointed to see Protestant hymns being played during the time of communion. My closest friend are mostly Protestant, so I know and have come to enjoy these hymns, but during the liturgy? It just doesn't seem right.


This may be a stupid question but here goes: when you say Protestant hymns are being "played" do you mean music that is recorded?  If that is the case then you can suggest to the priest or provide the priest with recorded Coptic liturgical music that would be appropriate during communion.
What happens in other Coptic churches?  Can you find on the internet recorded liturgical music that is usually sung during communion?
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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2012, 12:11:28 PM »

I hope that my post here, as a non-OO, will be considered an intrusion, but I would like to offer a few observations coming from a jurisdiction that was in the same boat as the Coptic Church in America is now in, though 50 years earlier.  Based on my observations of the lcoal Coptic community, I think there are some shared attitudes.

1) The need to preserve: both Coptic and EO parishes that are heavily immigrant-oriented tend to want to preserve the 'hometown' feel at all costs.  That includes changes that would benefit the enxt generation for who the 'homeland' is a vacation destination rather than a reality.  The liturgy becomes as much about sentiment as it does about genuine worship, and so change and accommodation become anathema.

2) If it's in English, who cares?: the attitude towards English is often this way.  After all, English is not going to follow Arabic or Coptic cadence, and so many traditional settings cannot be preserved in English versions.  What happens is that many people, because the exact setting cannot be preserved, they throw the baby out with the bathwater.  All the traditional music gets tossed, because it is assumed that it cannot be adapted towards English.

3) Let's fit in!: this is another strong impulse, almost as strong as the one to preserve, where immigrants are willing to pick up outlandish practices that they see as being 'American.'  This can mean goofy 'worship' songs (also inspired by Point 2), gawdy icons, etc.

4) Guilt: many of the parents know that they are doing a lousy job of integrating their kids, and so they over-indulge them with youth activities that keep them busy without integrating them into the regular community.  The parachurch movement, a babysitting phenomenon for evangelicals, has ended with disaster.  Often three generations of immigration, one should assume a substantial loss so long as the  faith is bolted to the ethnicity and the ethnicity is diluted.  Most of the parents realize this at a subconscious level, but don't want to give up their comfort zone, so they sacrifice the kids' connection to the church to keep their old ways, but pay them off with 'fun' activities.

5) Laziness: if you are going to teach the kids, the parents have to learn first.  Most immigrants are not naturally pious: the most pious people would never dream leaving their home churches and the monasteries they make pilgrimages to for a new land, whereas the less religious are far more portable (as persecutions increase, this rule becomes less applicable).  Most people who didn't go to church in the Old Country won't have the knowledge or the piety to pass down, and that also dilutes the entire community.  You will have many people coming to church to speak the 'old tongue' rather than worship God, and this brings down the overall mission of the parish.  It becomes perpetual catechism to the unwilling rather than preparation for spiritual advancement and the spreading of the Gospel.

Anyway, I think these are universals.  They are not confined to one church or jurisdiction, because they are based on shared humanity.

In my own Archdiocese, roughly 70% of the clergy are convert, as well as half the laypeople.  My experience is that we have slightly more converts coming in than we do children of immigrants leaving the Church for a 'more American' experience.  The funny thing is that the 'convert pool' is now also becoming the 'revert pool,' as we are now experiencing a number of people who are returning to the Church (sometimes with a heterodox spouse), and they are finding a deeper experience of the Church once the clumsiness of the ethnic identity has collapsed.

It is a frustrating time, because these changes happen slowly.  But, God will ultimately winnow out what is false and preserve what is true.
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2012, 12:29:16 PM »

This may be a stupid question but here goes: when you say Protestant hymns are being "played" do you mean music that is recorded?  If that is the case then you can suggest to the priest or provide the priest with recorded Coptic liturgical music that would be appropriate during communion.

It will usually be a group of youth with guitars who sing cheesy Christian rock songs. I've never heard of pre-recorded music being used.
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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2012, 12:40:07 PM »

This may be a stupid question but here goes: when you say Protestant hymns are being "played" do you mean music that is recorded?  If that is the case then you can suggest to the priest or provide the priest with recorded Coptic liturgical music that would be appropriate during communion.

It will usually be a group of youth with guitars who sing cheesy Christian rock songs. I've never heard of pre-recorded music being used.
There are Priests that allow them to use guitars during the liturgy? Shocked
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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2012, 01:25:10 PM »

I have seen video of guitar being played in the Church in Mexico (St. Mary & St. Mark, Tlayacapan), but it was not during the liturgy. I am not aware of any place where the guitar is allowed during the liturgy.

Which makes me wonder why a missionary parish in the United States would be allowed to use the guitar but one in Mexico wouldn't be. Are individual priests perhaps being given a little bit too much freedom to decide such things, under the guise of it being a missionary parish?

As a native-born American, I am seriously offended by this "we need to allow guitars (keyboards, accordions, whatever) for the Americans to be comfortable in our church" idea. It is stupid and counterproductive. Not only are there many, many, many individual hymns and praises that already exist in translation, the entire midnight praise/tasbeha has also been ably translated to English and preformed by the monks of St. Antony Monastery in California to great effect. The liturgy is chanted in English and who can say it isn't beautiful? Even in Egypt they've occasionally celebrated the liturgy in English. The only reason to allow people their guitars in the liturgy is the totally wrong idea that they're needed to somehow Americanize the church. That's stupid, quite frankly. The guitar came from Spain, and probably to the USA via Latinoamerica, where they celebrate the liturgy without any stupid guitars or Protestant songs! Go figure! Smiley Roll Eyes
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« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2012, 01:44:08 PM »

EO parishes went through the same craze 50 years ago with pipe organs.  Trust me, those are much harder to remove than a guitar, and they are fading away...    Smiley

I have seen video of guitar being played in the Church in Mexico (St. Mary & St. Mark, Tlayacapan), but it was not during the liturgy. I am not aware of any place where the guitar is allowed during the liturgy.

Which makes me wonder why a missionary parish in the United States would be allowed to use the guitar but one in Mexico wouldn't be. Are individual priests perhaps being given a little bit too much freedom to decide such things, under the guise of it being a missionary parish?

As a native-born American, I am seriously offended by this "we need to allow guitars (keyboards, accordions, whatever) for the Americans to be comfortable in our church" idea. It is stupid and counterproductive. Not only are there many, many, many individual hymns and praises that already exist in translation, the entire midnight praise/tasbeha has also been ably translated to English and preformed by the monks of St. Antony Monastery in California to great effect. The liturgy is chanted in English and who can say it isn't beautiful? Even in Egypt they've occasionally celebrated the liturgy in English. The only reason to allow people their guitars in the liturgy is the totally wrong idea that they're needed to somehow Americanize the church. That's stupid, quite frankly. The guitar came from Spain, and probably to the USA via Latinoamerica, where they celebrate the liturgy without any stupid guitars or Protestant songs! Go figure! Smiley Roll Eyes
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 02:14:12 PM »

Praise God! Good news, Father. May our (Coptic) fascination or preoccupation with popular instrumentation and Protestant songs be similarly brief.
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2012, 02:15:44 PM »

The liturgy is chanted in English and who can say it isn't beautiful?

Thanks! I attended Abouna Antonios' liturgies in Manhattan a few times and have been collecting recordings ever since. Liturgically he's a model for all to follow.
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2012, 02:27:11 PM »

Agreed. Everybody loves Abouna Antonios. You can find a full liturgies chanted by him on Tasbeha.org (Basilian) and St. Mary COC - New Brunswick, NJ (Gregorian), and 101 mp3s of him at Archangel Michael COC website - Howell, NJ.

Enjoy!
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2012, 09:44:43 PM »

How is it different in a missionary parish? Is that "Coptic code" for "plays Protestant songs during liturgy"? I agree with you, that is highly inappropriate. If you can speak Arabic, have you talked to the priest (gently) about this? Or any of the laity? If they were not responsive, have you considered taking your concerns to the bishop? I do not think that there is any excuse or reason to use Protestant songs in any part of the liturgy, ever.


Well, basically, the intended purpose of the missionary parish is to evangelize and reach out to people who aren't born into the Coptic Orthodox Church. For this reason, the Church does have considerably more converts than an ethnic parish.
This may be a stupid question but here goes: when you say Protestant hymns are being "played" do you mean music that is recorded?  If that is the case then you can suggest to the priest or provide the priest with recorded Coptic liturgical music that would be appropriate during communion.

It will usually be a group of youth with guitars who sing cheesy Christian rock songs. I've never heard of pre-recorded music being used.
There are Priests that allow them to use guitars during the liturgy? Shocked

There were no guitars, it was in fact pre-recorded music being played on the speakers that people would sing along too.

Now that I think about it, there was no triangle or cymbals, either. That's something I am accustomed to in my "ethnic" parish.

I apologize for the delay in replying, I have been thinking about this issue for a couple days and actually had the opportunity to sit down with another Priest from a nearby Church and ask him about this very issue. Due to his office and the general respect I have for him, I did not express much disagreement when listening to him talk. But I was very frustrated. When I brought it up, he said that ultimately "it was okay." The reason for this is that the Church has to exhibit flexibility and adapt to local customs. The example he used was a Church in Africa where, as is the local culture, he witnessed people "singing and dancing" in the Church. Was it during the liturgy? I don't know, to be honest. He continued by saying that the "youth" who were in charge of this Church (they currently have no Priest) felt that adapting to local customs would help the Church reach out to potential converts. He also mentioned, though, that it was a point of contention among different authorities in the Church.

Again, I have all the respect in the world for this Priest. He is a great, great man. But this discussion made me even more sad. He honestly didn't even seem to mind that these things were happening in the Church. Consider me an opponent of the "adapt to local customs" theory.

Also, the Church didn't have an iconostasis, at all. Granted, they are only around a year old and probably short on cash, but that didn't stop them from having the two big TV's in the Sanctuary.

To all who posted about sticking it out, staying grassroots, and praying about the situation, thank you. I won't respond to each individually, but I'll try to respond to a few things people said.
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


We ALL get frustrated at out Church, period.  We all go through this in different ways, at different times, for different reasons.  Check the reality, the Church is a human institution cooperating in synergy with God's perfect Grace.  God allows the human imperfections to remain in the Church, out of His mercy that all can come to repentance in His time.  We will run into conflict, drama, and unease.  Like Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4


I realize this, and I try to take it to heart as much as I can, but it's one thing for drama to affect a Church, and another thing entirely for a large-scale trend to be negatively effecting an entire diocese.


3) Let's fit in!: this is another strong impulse, almost as strong as the one to preserve, where immigrants are willing to pick up outlandish practices that they see as being 'American.'  This can mean goofy 'worship' songs (also inspired by Point 2), gawdy icons, etc.



First of all, thank you so much for your post, Father. I appreciate it. Regarding this point, I think you are largely correct; there is definitely an undercurrent of wanting to fit in. I especially like what you have to say about clumsy ethnic identities. What would you say is the right balance of ethnic identity? Or is that the wrong question altogether? It seems to me that it is the youth who are driving the changes in the Coptic Church right now and the older generation is either lets it happen or just participates in it.

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