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Author Topic: What to expect at a Coptic Orthdox Church?  (Read 4266 times) Average Rating: 0
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Truth_or_Bust
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« on: July 19, 2006, 07:57:49 AM »

Greetings,
I am going to be traveling in the Tampa Bay Florida area in about a month or so and found that there
is an Coptic Orthodox Church there.ÂÂ  I am thinking about attending.ÂÂ  

Being Russian Orthodox (ROCOR), what differences might I expect when visiting?  I noticed pews http://www.stgeorgetampa.org/4436/index.html in the pictures on the Church's website but was wondering what other differences I might expect (liturgical, etc.).  ÃƒÆ’‚Â

God Bless,
T
« Last Edit: July 19, 2006, 07:59:13 AM by Truth_or_Bust » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2006, 05:50:23 PM »

Beautiful liturgical language and tone, beautiful iconography, and getting turned away at the chalice. I was going to say something about the attractive women but i dont know if that would be appropriate.  let us know how your visit goes.
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2006, 05:56:10 PM »

I will post my review after I go.  I certainly was not expecting to be able to take communion, though.
When I first decided to become Orthodox it was with the fantasy that - seeing as I travel often - I would
be able to take communion at all of the different Orthodox Churches.  HA!  I learned quickly of the politics between the jurisdictions.  Having said that, I did get a warm invite from the local Serbian priest to attend his jurisdiction's Orthodox Church in that area.  I am planning on visiting both.
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2006, 08:08:11 PM »

Greetings,
I am going to be traveling in the Tampa Bay Florida area in about a month or so and found that there
is an Coptic Orthodox Church there.ÂÂ  I am thinking about attending.ÂÂ  

Being Russian Orthodox (ROCOR), what differences might I expect when visiting?  I noticed pews http://www.stgeorgetampa.org/4436/index.html in the pictures on the Church's website but was wondering what other differences I might expect (liturgical, etc.).  ÃƒÆ’‚Â

God Bless,
T

Usually no icon-screen; where there is one, it will have a large arched opening--no doors or curtains.ÂÂ  Much longer Divine Liturgy (at least 2 1/2 hrs.).ÂÂ  The music is very different to European ears; musical instrumentsÂÂ  that are very novel in appearance and sound.  Some prayers in English, some in Arabic, some in Coptic.  There will be a missal  with English on one side and phonetic pronunciation of the Arabic and Coptic in Latin letters.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2006, 08:09:59 PM by Steve Dennehy » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2006, 08:21:11 PM »

Usually no icon-screen; where there is one, it will have a large arched opening--no doors or curtains.ÂÂ

Every Coptic parish has an iconstasis, and curtains are always used. May I inquire into the basis of your assertion? Is it based on something you have personally witnessed, and if so, at which particular parish did you witness this?

Quote
musical instrumentsÂÂ  that are very novel in appearance and sound.ÂÂ  


The only instruments used during the Liturgy are the cymbals and the triangle, and they are more rhythmic than musical instruments.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2006, 08:22:16 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2006, 10:19:11 PM »

I've seen photographs of Coptic monasteries and churches in Egypt which do not have iconostasis but have rood screens similar to ones in France but with Coptic cross design rather than French Gothic design. Then there are rood screens with smaller icons bordering the top of the screen but not directly on it.





Maybe you are confsing coptic churches with syrian or armenian churches which have the more ancient open altar design...
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 07:44:23 PM »

Timos,

The photos you present show very peculiar and traditional types of iconstasis's, but they are iconstasis's nonetheless. As is clearly shown, there is a screen that separates the nave from sanctuary, and that screen has icons (placed exclusively at the top for those particular screens). As far as I'm aware, that pretty much fulfills the definition of an iconstasis.
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2006, 08:51:01 PM »

Other differences you will notice from EO Churches...

1. Men will sit on the Left and women on the right.

2. The Coptic Liturgy still retains the ancient Kiss of Peace.

3. Liturgical vestments are different...Much simpler in design than EO vestments.

4. At the end of Worship, the priest will throw blessed water on the worshippers. (shocked me the first time)

5. The Eucharish will be Body first, then Blood (the Body is not dipped in the chalice as in EO Churches)

6.  Icons, while present, are not displayed on stands around the temple for veneration of the day's Saints.  (you can do personal veneration if you choose.)

7.  Most of the time there is a Synaxarion reading along with the Epistle, Gospel, etc.

8. Part of TiAgpeya (Canonical Hours) is read at the beginning of the service.

9. Shoes are removed before approaching the altar.  You will see many who remove their shoes for the service, too.  This isn't absolutely required...taking them off when nearing the altar is.

If you're visiting in Tampa, expect to hear the liturgy in English and Coptic.  Depending on the Priest, there may be some Arabic translating of the english.
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2006, 10:15:08 PM »

Every Coptic parish has an iconstasis, and curtains are always used. May I inquire into the basis of your assertion? Is it based on something you have personally witnessed, and if so, at which particular parish did you witness this?
 

The only instruments used during the Liturgy are the cymbals and the triangle, and they are more rhythmic than musical instruments.

I have only been to one Coptic Church in my life-St Mary and Neva in Fairhaven, Mass.( or close by) and there were no curtains.  A beautiful church by the way, and a very devout priest. I have seen pictures of the sanctuaries of many Coptic parishes on the net, and none had icon screens in the sense of the large , massive, solid ones seen in Greek/Byzantine Rite Orthodox Churches.  I prefer the open iconscreen--no doors, no curtains.

My comment about the instruments was not meant as a criticism; I was just stating a fact--the music is very different from European music.
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2006, 01:03:25 AM »

Other differences you will notice from EO Churches...

1. Men will sit on the Left and women on the right.

2. The Coptic Liturgy still retains the ancient Kiss of Peace.

3. Liturgical vestments are different...Much simpler in design than EO vestments.

4. At the end of Worship, the priest will throw blessed water on the worshippers. (shocked me the first time)

7.ÂÂ  Most of the time there is a Synaxarion reading along with the Epistle, Gospel, etc.

8. Part of TiAgpeya (Canonical Hours) is read at the beginning of the service.

1. This is still the norm in many EO churches throughout Europe and the Near East as well as most if not all EO monasteries in North America.

2. The EO tradition still has the Kiss of Peace, it is done by the clergy most of the time but many parishes have it that all the people present do it.

3. I find that many Coptic priests will wear only the alb (white dress) and liturgical hat during Liturgy and not wear the stole (also during the administration of Holy Confession).

4. The blessing and sprinkling of holy water is also done a the end of liturgy, but it is not usually done on every sunday. It is done on all feast days and about once a month and the congregation can take some of it home in small bottles.

7. The Synaxarion in the EOC is read near the end of Orthros (the morning service immediately preceding Liturgy).

8. The Canonical Hours (the Horologion) is incorporated in the service during the morning Orthros service in the form of readings and chants for the day.

Our churches are very similar, we jist might do things in different order.
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2006, 05:08:21 PM »

Other differences you will notice from EO Churches...

6.ÂÂ  Icons, while present, are not displayed on stands around the temple for veneration of the day's Saints.ÂÂ  (you can do personal veneration if you choose.)
Our parish does this for major saints' days.  Right now, an icon of the Theotokos is displayed, for instance, or St. George on his feast as that's our parish's saint.

Glad to hear from another convert.  Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2006, 05:35:20 PM »

An iconstasis separates the sanctuary from the chancel / choir, or if there is no chancel, the nave.  The roodscreen separates the chancel/ choir from the nave and has a cross on or above it.  So you take communion behind a roodscreen but in front of an iconstasis.
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 01:14:42 AM »


1. Men will sit on the Left and women on the right.

Can someone tell me the origin of this tradition?  Being that in some other Orthodox Churches, it's the opposite - women on the left and men on the right.
I'm very curious.  Thank you
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2011, 11:07:34 AM »

In EO churches where the sexes are separated, the separation is based on the icons on either side of the Royal Doors:  men stand/sit on the right side (with the icon of Christ the Teacher), and women on the left (with the Theotokos and Child).
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 11:23:25 AM »

2. The EO tradition still has the Kiss of Peace, it is done by the clergy most of the time but many parishes have it that all the people present do it.

What's the Kiss of Peace? In my parish we congratulate people who have received Eucharist by kissing and saying "for the health of body and soul" and "for the Glory of God" while the choir sings "we have seen the true light". Is it that or something else?
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2011, 03:13:55 PM »

In EO churches where the sexes are separated, the separation is based on the icons on either side of the Royal Doors:  men stand/sit on the right side (with the icon of Christ the Teacher), and women on the left (with the Theotokos and Child).
Exactly, that is why I'm asking why in the Coptic churches it's the exact opposite - women on the right and men on the left.
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2011, 05:15:33 PM »

Greetings,
I am going to be traveling in the Tampa Bay Florida area in about a month or so and found that there
is an Coptic Orthodox Church there.ÂÂ  I am thinking about attending.ÂÂ  

Being Russian Orthodox (ROCOR), what differences might I expect when visiting?  I noticed pews http://www.stgeorgetampa.org/4436/index.html in the pictures on the Church's website but was wondering what other differences I might expect (liturgical, etc.).  ÃƒÆ’‚Â

God Bless,
T


When I visited one I noticed that you take your shoes off and the men sit or stand on one side while the women on the other side.
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2011, 08:22:29 PM »

I will post my review after I go.  I certainly was not expecting to be able to take communion, though.
When I first decided to become Orthodox it was with the fantasy that - seeing as I travel often - I would
be able to take communion at all of the different Orthodox Churches.  HA!  I learned quickly of the politics between the jurisdictions.

It's not like that. These are not simply squabbling jurisdictions. That much could be said about Constantinople and Moscow, perhaps. However, the Russian church and the Coptic church are historically divided into two entirely different communions; they are not sister jurisdictions as such.
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2011, 03:55:58 AM »

2. The EO tradition still has the Kiss of Peace, it is done by the clergy most of the time but many parishes have it that all the people present do it.

What's the Kiss of Peace? In my parish we congratulate people who have received Eucharist by kissing and saying "for the health of body and soul" and "for the Glory of God" while the choir sings "we have seen the true light". Is it that or something else?

No, it's the thing before the Creed.
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2011, 11:21:24 AM »

Usually no icon-screen; where there is one, it will have a large arched opening--no doors or curtains.ÂÂ

Every Coptic parish has an iconstasis, and curtains are always used. May I inquire into the basis of your assertion? Is it based on something you have personally witnessed, and if so, at which particular parish did you witness this?

Quote
musical instrumentsÂÂ  that are very novel in appearance and sound.ÂÂ  


The only instruments used during the Liturgy are the cymbals and the triangle, and they are more rhythmic than musical instruments.
Thank you for this; I did not know these instruments were used during liturgy.
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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2011, 11:37:20 AM »

2. The EO tradition still has the Kiss of Peace, it is done by the clergy most of the time but many parishes have it that all the people present do it.

What's the Kiss of Peace? In my parish we congratulate people who have received Eucharist by kissing and saying "for the health of body and soul" and "for the Glory of God" while the choir sings "we have seen the true light". Is it that or something else?

No, it's the thing before the Creed.

Apparently then the Kiss of Peace is not practised in the Finnish Church. At least among the laity. I don't know what the clergy do behind the iconostasis.

Anyway, thank you for the answer. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2011, 04:24:54 PM »

Apparently then the Kiss of Peace is not practised in the Finnish Church. At least among the laity.

I don't think I remember seeing the Kiss of Peace at the Russian OCA church I went to two weeks ago either.
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« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2011, 06:38:20 AM »

I don't think I remember seeing the Kiss of Peace at the Russian OCA church I went to two weeks ago either.

The kiss of peace is generally limited to the clergy in EO churches, except for a limited number of parishes (mainly in America) where they have made efforts to reinstate it.

It's interesting that the kiss in its original form has disappeared from all churches. Even in churches where it has been retained, it has turned into a hand-shake or something similar.
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« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2011, 07:43:56 AM »

I don't think I remember seeing the Kiss of Peace at the Russian OCA church I went to two weeks ago either.

The kiss of peace is generally limited to the clergy in EO churches, except for a limited number of parishes (mainly in America) where they have made efforts to reinstate it.

It's interesting that the kiss in its original form has disappeared from all churches. Even in churches where it has been retained, it has turned into a hand-shake or something similar.

Although the kiss of peace as practiced today in the Coptic tradition might loosely be classified as a "handshake" of sorts, its purpose is far from some sort of social "meet and greet" interlude. I am furthermore not entirely certain that the use of the hands in contemporary Coptic practice reflects some sort of compromise between a need to retain the general ritual and some modern concern to avoid direct kissing; for two reasons:

1) As a matter of common sense, there is no risk of the rite being improperly practiced given that males and females practice it strictly amongst their own gender. It is common in Egyptian culture for males to greet other males socially with a kiss on each cheek, and likewise for females.

2) The use of the hands appears to effectively convey a particular moral notion central to the general purpose of the kiss of peace. Before I elaborate on this point I think it'd be helpful to first detail the motions of the kiss of peace in Coptic practice:

Typically one turns to those in the immediate vicinity and extends both hands outwards perpendicularly and spaced a little. The respondent does likewise, and as he/she extends his/her own hands towards those of the other, he/she inserts one of his/her hands in between the two hands of the other (and thereby receives one of the other's hands in between his/her own). Both parties than clasp their hands tightly together, and then pull their hands inwards and away, until the enclasped hand of other is released. They then bring the fingertips of their clasped hands towards their lips whereupon they kiss them.

The symbolism of such a gesture was explained by a certain priest as follows: in clasping both sides of the other's hands with one's own two hands, one signifies an holistic embrace of the other, which is to say that one expresses acceptance of them along with their good qualities (symbolised by the smooth side of the hand i.e. the palm side) and their negative qualities (symbolised by the rougher side of the hand). In short, it is an expression of unconditional love.

In its liturgical context the kiss of peace signifies the need for us to be reconciled amongst ourselves before we can benefit from Christ's gift of reconciling us to God. If we are not willing to engage in loving fellowship with others because of their faults and weaknesses, then how can we expect Christ to lovingly indwell us, with all of our own faults and weaknesses, by partaking of His Holy Body and Precious Blood?
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« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2011, 07:53:01 AM »

In my own congregation many of the folk exchange a kiss of peace and the rest exchange the peace by embracing each others hands, not just shaking them.
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« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2011, 07:55:11 AM »

LOL! What he just said. Although many do exchange a kiss in my little Orthodox flock.
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« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2011, 11:08:51 AM »

In my parish (big GOA parish), we exchange the Kiss in a variety of ways, but quite respectfully, and, I think, without turning it into a social gabfest.
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« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2011, 10:53:23 PM »

I've seen photographs of Coptic monasteries and churches in Egypt which do not have iconostasis but have rood screens similar to ones in France but with Coptic cross design rather than French Gothic design. Then there are rood screens with smaller icons bordering the top of the screen but not directly on it.





Maybe you are confsing coptic churches with syrian or armenian churches which have the more ancient open altar design...

Ah.... are these "rood screens" really placed in the same place as in the West or taking the same form?
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« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2011, 11:21:00 PM »

It's interesting that the kiss in its original form has disappeared from all churches. Even in churches where it has been retained, it has turned into a hand-shake or something similar.

The Armenians still sort-of practice the kiss.
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« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2011, 11:11:27 AM »

I don't think I remember seeing the Kiss of Peace at the Russian OCA church I went to two weeks ago either.

The kiss of peace is generally limited to the clergy in EO churches, except for a limited number of parishes (mainly in America) where they have made efforts to reinstate it.

It's interesting that the kiss in its original form has disappeared from all churches. Even in churches where it has been retained, it has turned into a hand-shake or something similar.

Although the kiss of peace as practiced today in the Coptic tradition might loosely be classified as a "handshake" of sorts, its purpose is far from some sort of social "meet and greet" interlude. I am furthermore not entirely certain that the use of the hands in contemporary Coptic practice reflects some sort of compromise between a need to retain the general ritual and some modern concern to avoid direct kissing; for two reasons:

1) As a matter of common sense, there is no risk of the rite being improperly practiced given that males and females practice it strictly amongst their own gender. It is common in Egyptian culture for males to greet other males socially with a kiss on each cheek, and likewise for females. 2) The use of the hands appears to effectively convey a particular moral notion central to the general purpose of the kiss of peace. Before I elaborate on this point I think it'd be helpful to first detail the motions of the kiss of peace in Coptic practice:

Typically one turns to those in the immediate vicinity and extends both hands outwards perpendicularly and spaced a little. The respondent does likewise, and as he/she extends his/her own hands towards those of the other, he/she inserts one of his/her hands in between the two hands of the other (and thereby receives one of the other's hands in between his/her own). Both parties than clasp their hands tightly together, and then pull their hands inwards and away, until the enclasped hand of other is released. They then bring the fingertips of their clasped hands towards their lips whereupon they kiss them.

The symbolism of such a gesture was explained by a certain priest as follows: in clasping both sides of the other's hands with one's own two hands, one signifies an holistic embrace of the other, which is to say that one expresses acceptance of them along with their good qualities (symbolised by the smooth side of the hand i.e. the palm side) and their negative qualities (symbolised by the rougher side of the hand). In short, it is an expression of unconditional love.

In its liturgical context the kiss of peace signifies the need for us to be reconciled amongst ourselves before we can benefit from Christ's gift of reconciling us to God. If we are not willing to engage in loving fellowship with others because of their faults and weaknesses, then how can we expect Christ to lovingly indwell us, with all of our own faults and weaknesses, by partaking of His Holy Body and Precious Blood?
I personally don't feel confortable with kissing with whether male or famale. Not to mention what kind of kissing you have on your mind for there are all these different kinds of kissing. But thank you for letting us know the culture in egypt. I would like to know more about the culture in egypt and around the middle east in general for I think it is a wise thing to do.
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« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2011, 11:38:18 AM »

I will post my review after I go.  I certainly was not expecting to be able to take communion, though.
When I first decided to become Orthodox it was with the fantasy that - seeing as I travel often - I would
be able to take communion at all of the different Orthodox Churches.  HA!  I learned quickly of the politics between the jurisdictions.  Having said that, I did get a warm invite from the local Serbian priest to attend his jurisdiction's Orthodox Church in that area.  I am planning on visiting both.


The Coptic Church is part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, which is not in communion with the rest of the Eastern Orthodox. This is not a matter of jurisdictions. The Serbian Church you mentioned is in communion with the EO's.
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #31 on: February 14, 2011, 11:43:24 AM »

I don't think I remember seeing the Kiss of Peace at the Russian OCA church I went to two weeks ago either.

The kiss of peace is generally limited to the clergy in EO churches, except for a limited number of parishes (mainly in America) where they have made efforts to reinstate it.

It's interesting that the kiss in its original form has disappeared from all churches. Even in churches where it has been retained, it has turned into a hand-shake or something similar.

I find this dissapointing. Why do you think it was done away with? Because it can disturb the liturgy?
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