The Coptic Orthodox Church
Welcome to the St Mary and St Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church website. We are a Coptic Parish based in Croydon, South London. If you are new to the Coptic Church, Orthodoxy or Christianity in general we invite you to explore our website learn about how we practice the Christian faith and hopefully we can encourage you to come visit us soon.
As Egyptians we have always had a strong association and a sense of pride with our great and ancient history. This extends beyond the pharaohs of ancient history and includes Christianity, which has had a powerful presence in Egypt since St. Mark the Apostle introduced the Faith to Alexandria in the 1st century. Despite strong resistance to his message (he was martyred by pagans on the streets of Alexandria) and harsh persecution the Church managed to thrive and flourish remaining largely unchanged throughout the centuries. Today we are a minority in an Islamic nation but still number at least 15 million in Egypt and 3 million throughout the world including the UK, Europe, Australia and America. This is not including the almost 50 million in our sister churches (Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches).
Being able to trace our practice of Christianity so far back means we can say confidently that the faith as passed from Our Lord Himself to the Apostles and then to us has not been lost, diluted or misinterpreted along the way. Hence we call ourselves an Apostolic Church.
Our identity lies in the word Coptic as “Copt” is derived from “Gypt” which stems from the Greek word “Agyptus” meaning Egyptian. Also Coptic was the language spoken by the native Egyptians at the time Christianity was introduced. Many ancient teachers wrote in Coptic such as St Shenouda (our parish saint). One of the oldest copies of the Bible is written in Coptic. We even still pray in Coptic following the same rites, hymns and tunes for 1,900 years. Doing so gives us a strong sense of unity not just with each other all over the world but with the victorious church in Paradise where we know hundreds of thousands of saints are living who also prayed the same prayers in the same language.
Our Contribution to the Christian World
In all our rich history, rites and traditions it is important to know that everything we do is based on a complete and detailed understanding of the bible. The School of Alexandria played a major role in developing the study of the bible and theology with great Fathers writing and teaching the whole world such as Clement, Gregory and Origen.
We played a key role in the development of a proper understanding of the nature of Christ and God as the Holy Trinity. This occurred in the first three ecumenical councils. The Council of Nicea in particular produced the Nicean Creed, which we still uphold as our sound declaration of the true faith. It was one of our most famous popes who is credited worldwide for his role in developing the creed, St Athanasius the Apostolic.
It was in Egypt that a very strange and powerful practice of Christianity emerged. Monasticism became very popular in the deserts of Egypt as people realized there was an intense joy to gain from abandoning the world in pursuit of a completely spiritual life. St Anthony the Great is considered the father of all monasticism and from him many great desert fathers emerged and the whole world soon saw the appeal and followed suit. To this day the monastic life is very active in our church it brings true spirituality to our church, all of our Bishops and modern Popes have been monks.
We truly hope you will enjoy learning about our church this website is full of information, great links and videos and we pray you consider visiting us soon.
Our Church finds itself mixed with the Egyptian culture, this may seem initially like a barrier to people of different backgrounds but over the almost 30 years we have been in the UK we have proven to ourselves that the Church is very adaptable to all cultures and many people of all backgrounds have benefited and enjoyed becoming Coptic Orthodox.