The Coptic Church & The Copts
Egypt was called in the Hieroglyphic language “Ha Ka Ptah” which means: “The House of the God Ptah”. Ptah was one of the old Egyptian deities who was revered by the Egyptians before Christianity. Greeks came to Egypt and found it hard to pronounce Ha Ka Ptah, so they called it “Haguyptos”. Then Arabs came to Egypt they pronounced it “Guypt” which had further derivatives in other languages, such as Egyptin, Egypt, Copt.
The Foundation of the Church
The church was established by St Mark the Evangelist, martyr and disciple in year 58 AD in the City of Alexandria, Egypt. St Mark wrote the second of the four Gospels. He was martyred in Egypt in by the hands of the pagans in year 67AD.
However, Egypt knew and met Christ earlier than this date when He chose Egypt to be his haven when He fled from Herod the king in His early childhood. The Holy Family stayed in Egypt for more than 3 years.
Since then the Coptic Church has played a major leading role in the history of Christianity. The Church of Alexandria led the first three ecumenical councils in the 4th & 5th centuries. Leaders like Athanasius, Dioscoros and Cyril are very well known in the Christian History.
The Coptic Church is the founder of the monastic way of life as St Anthony the Great is the father of all the monks and nuns in the world.
Time runs short if we wanted to talk about the martyrs, scholars, people of faith and saints. We will mention one significant event during the Fatimite period in the 10th century when the Copts where challenged to move a mountain in the outskirts of Cairo by the name of El-Mokattam. Through God’s Grace and the prayers and fasting of the people, the mountain moved 3 times and people could see the Sun from beneath.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is a member of the Oriental Orthodox Families of Churches. They, in addition to the Coptic, are, the Armenian Apostolic Church, The Syrian, The Ethiopian , The Eritrean and The Indian Orthodox Churches.
We believe like most of the rest of Christian Denominations in the Unity and Trinity of God the Creator and Almighty. Jesus Christ the Son of God is our Saviour and Redeemer and the Scripts with their authenticity and authority for Christian believes and dogmas.
We promote and preach the Orthodox traditions as we received them from the Apostles.
The hierarchy of the Church is composed of:
The Pope, currently is Pope Tawadros the II the 118th Pope and Patriarch of the City of Alexandria and the rest of the See of St Mark. He is one of the most distinguished Christian Leaders in the world.
The Synod is composed currently of more than 100 metropolitans and bishops. The Synod is the highest governing body of the Church. The Synod normally meets twice a year in Egypt.
Bishop Suriel the Bishop of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions. He gives pastoral care for Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, ACT, Tasmania, New Zealand, Fiji and Pakistan. He was born in Egypt, and at the age of 3 migrated together with his family to Sydney. He graduated from Sydney Uni with a B.Sc. and Dip of Ed. Degree in Maths. He went to Egypt 6 years after his graduation to become a monk. He served in Egypt, Honolulu and the USA. In Nov/Dec 1999, he was called Bishop for Melbourne & Affiliated region. In such a short period, HG established a new theological collage in Melbourne, many churches in the diocese. His Grace like all the other bishops and metropolitans is a member in the Holy Synod.
The Copts are very peaceful and peace making peoples. Meek, humble, down to earth, honest and of good values. At the same time, they are very energetic, active and sociable. They are committed, generous and determined.
The Copts are very well educated, holding and keeping very high positions in their professions and trades. One example of them is Dr Magdi Yakoub the distinguished open-heart surgeon.
The Copts in Australia
Around the middle of last century, the Copts started to migrate to Australia. However, the Church in Australia started only in 1970 AD when the first Coptic Orthodox priest arrived to Australia from Egypt.
In Australia and New Zealand there are more than 50 churches, 2 monasteries, 2 Theological Colleges, a Hostel, 2 Coptic Villages and 4 Schools, plus other associations and institutions.
The Copts in Perth
The Church in Perth started in the early 80’s with a number of about 25 families. The small community in Perth was served through monthly liturgies, celebrated by the priests in Sydney and Melbourne.
In 1990 they manage to establish their 1st permanent church, in East Vic Park.
In 2000 we managed to acquire a parcel of land in Wanneroo (5 Acres) to establish our second church in Perth Metropolitan region.
In addition to spiritual and pastoral services to these families, the Coptic Church is committed to provide cultural, educational, social and welfare services.
The Coptic Orthodox Church in WA extended her mission to places outside Perth and within WA.
The Church also started a missionary work in Asia in 1998.
The Church pays regular visits to prisons, hospitals, elderly hostels and schools.
In the past two decades the Copts in WA accomplished many achievements:
Establishing a new church in the Northern Suburbs.
Providing Spiritual, Social, Financial and Cultural Support Programs which extend to senior citizens, newly arrived migrants, the sick, people with mental disorders, carers, students, new couples, drug and alcohol addicts, and families in crises.
The Coptic Orthodox Church in WA is one of the founding members of the Association of Heads of Churches of WA, and the Conference of Churches of WA. It has established very good and strong ecumenical relations not only with other Oriental Orthodox Communities, but also with Other Orthodox Churches and Non-Orthodox Christians.
The Coptic Orthodox Church participates with the government in many joint programs and projects for the benefit of all Australians such as the joint venture project with the Department of Housing (HOMEWEST): Anba Abram Village to provide accommodation for the new migrants in Beechboro.
1950 First Copts to WA
1975 First Coptic Liturgy in WA
1987 First resident Monk Priest
1990 Purchasing of St Mary & Archangel Michael Church
1993 Visit of HH Pope Shenouda to Perth
1996 Ordination of Fr. Abram Abdelmalek for the church of St. Mary and Archangel Michael in Perth.
1998 St Mark Coptic School
1999 Anba Abram Village
1999 Parish Resource Centre for the Youth & Other Church Activities
1999 Ordination of Bishop Suriel
2000 St Mark and St George Church