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Remembering His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

To commemorate the second year of the passing to the Heavenly Kingdom of our beloved father His Holiness Pope Shenouda III , the 116th successor to St. Mark who guided the church for 40 years, his body was anointed in St. Bishoy's Monastery by His Grace Bishop Sarabamon, several other bishops and members of the clergy. 

May his prayers and intercessions be with us before Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

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New Regulations for Choosing the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch

I. A Historical Session

The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, under the auspices of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, agreed on new regulations for electing the Pope, who is the Patriarch of the See of St. Mark the Apostle, the Archbishop of Alexandria, and the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church worldwide.

In a special session that lasted seven hours, the Holy Synod voted on the following regulations which were presented by the Committee for Nominations. Each member of the Holy Synod voted on each of the 36 articles found in the new regulations. These 36 articles are organized into 6 chapters:

Chapter I contains Articles 1 and 2, which are basic articles. It also deals with the declaration of the vacancy of the Patriarchal See in Articles 3-5.

Chapter II deals with the formation and competence of a Special Committee to nominate the Pope as represented in Articles 6-7.

Chapter III deals with issues related to the nomination of the Pope as represented in Articles 8-12.

Chapter IV deals with the registration of voters in the nomination process as represented in Articles 13-18.

Chapter V deals with the regulations of the nomination process as represented in Articles 19-25.

Chapter VI presents general provisions in Articles 26-36.

II. Preparing the New Regulations

His Holiness Pope Tawadros II issued a papal decree to the Committee for Nominations headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Pakhomios to prepare new regulations to choose the Pope. It was this very Committee that managed the process of nomination and choosing the Pope after the departure of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of thrice-blessed memory.

The Committee held several meetings to examine the previous experiences of electing the Pope and the regulations of 1957, which needed revision. The Committee received proposals from the members of the Holy Synod and reviewed the process in other churches. It then clarified its goal of establishing new regulations that would be in agreement with the Canons of the Holy Church and the ancient Tradition while remaining compatible with modern realities, especially in light of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s global presence today.

After holding several sessions, the Committee sent five suggested versions of these regulations to the members of the Holy Synod for their review and comments. The Secretary of the Holy Synod compiled a suggested two proposals based on the work of the Committee and feedback from the members of the Holy Synod. From December 26-27, 2013, a special meeting of the Committee, the Secretary of the Holy Synod, and any member of the Holy Synod who wished to attend, was convened to reconcile the two proposals into one proposal that was presented to the Holy Synod at a general meeting on February 20, 2014. Members of the Holy Synod discussed and voted on each article separately until the new regulations were approved.

III. A Review of the New Regulations

Here are a few important points concerning the new regulations.

  1. Article 1 of the new regulations specify that they are used to choose the spiritual leadership of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and abroad, and as such, regulate a uniquely religious decision, as opposed to political or otherwise. Article 2 specifies that the Presidential Decree for the choice of the Patriarch is only an accreditation of the religious choice made by the Church through the providence of God in a public altar lot that occurs in Egypt between three nominees elected by the clergy and representatives of the laity.

  2. The new regulations settled the question of whether the altar lot should be used. It is now mandatory as a prerequisite in the process of choosing the Patriarch.

  3. Article 2 presented an ecclesiastically correct definition of the person and office of the Patriarch. It is the same definition mentioned in Article 49 and based on Canon 6 of the Ecumenical Council of Nicæa. It states, “The Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of the See of St. Mark for the Coptic Orthodox is the bishop of Alexandria and Cairo, and because he is the bishop of the great city of Alexandria, he is the Archbishop of the Episcopate of St. Mark according to the canons of the Holy Council of Nicæa.”In light of this definition, the regulations confirm that the choice of the Patriarch, the Archbishop of the Episcopate of St. Mark, is essentially the choice of the bishop of Alexandria. Accordingly, all of the canons related to choosing the bishop of a diocese, and in particular, transferring a bishop from one diocese to another, apply in the process of choosing the Patriarch.
    Article 8 limits the choice of nominees to monks and general bishops only. It prohibits the nomination of metropolitans and diocesan bishops except if it is an absolute necessity in conformity with the ecclesiastical canons. The new regulations reflect several ecclesiastical canons, which prohibit transferring a bishop from one diocese to another, such as Canon 15 of the Ecumenical Council of Nicæa, Canon 21 of the Council of Antioch of 341 A.D., Canon 1 of the Council of Sardica of 347 A.D., the canons of Pope Mikhail, the 46th Pope of Alexandria (c. 744-768 A.D.), and the decision of the Holy Synod of 1873 A.D. on this matter. The regulations also take into consideration the canons that permit the transfer of a bishop to another diocese in special circumstances, such as Canon 14 of the Holy Apostles.

  4. Article 15 of the new regulations deals with the question of who may participate in the process of choosing the Patriarch and expanded the participation of clergy and laity alike. It provides that all priests in Egypt and abroad who were ordained before the departure of the Patriarch may participate in the process. It also conferred a specific number of votes to laity in each diocese commensurate with the number of clergy in that diocese. Moreover, it provides that all priest-monks, official consecrated deacons, archdeacons, and deaconnesses may participate in the process. The same is true for the professors of official clerical schools. As for nuns, the new regulations permit ten percent of the nuns of each convent to participate in the process.

  5. Because of the geographical growth of the Coptic Orthodox Church worldwide, the new regulations enabled the formation of subcommittees to conduct the elections inside Egypt and abroad.

  6. The new regulations confirmed that the final list of nominees for Patriarch must include 5-7 candidates.They also provide for special circumstances in case the election could not take place with the requisite five candidates (e.g., the departure or withdrawal of one or more candidates). In this case, for example, the election would be held between the remaining candidates and the altar lot choose the Patriarch from the last three candidates. If it was impossible to reach three nominees for whatever reason, the altar lot would choose the Patriarch from the two candidates who received the most votes in the preceding election. If the nomination process produced only three names, there would be no election, and the altar lot would be held immediately. Finally, if the nomination process produced only one nominee for whatever reason, he would be immediately enthroned as Patriarch according to the will of God without election or altar lot.

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St. Mark Festival 2013

Hannah Saad.

On Saturday 14th December St Mary & Mina’s Church, Manchester hosted the 2013 Mahragan el Keraza festival. Youth from Manchester, Nottingham, North Wales and Birmingham took part in the festival. The theme of the festival was ‘Come To Me’; this theme featured in the anthem, the verses to memorize and the topics covered in the Bible Study. 

The day began with some snacks and tea and coffee in the hall, and then everyone went into church to get registered and for an introductory talk by Abouna Bishoy. Firstly, all age groups took the written test in the church (containing questions on the books of Samuel 1 and St. James). Then different age groups participated in different challenges: Coptic language, memorization of verses and a hymn (all different according to the age group).

All the activities and challenges were judged or marked by some of the servants and youth from each church.

Then at midday Birmingham and Wales presented their activities to the judges, a choir recital from Birmingham and a guitar solo from Wales. After the lunch break the tests for all age groups continued with everyone preforming excellently. Then came the time for Manchester and Nottingham to present there activities, a model of Jesus Christ on the cross from Manchester and a puppet show from Nottingham. 

Once all the marking had been done and the judges had made their decisions the certificates and trophies were given out to everyone that participated. 

A big thanks to everyone that participated and to all the youth and servants who helped organize the day. Thank you to HG Anba Missael, Abouna Bishoy, Abouna Youhanna, Abouna Peter, Abouna John and Abouna Antonious for all their prayers and help.

 

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"The Joy Of The Lord Is Your Strength" Youth Conference 2013

Samuel Saad.

carryingyourcross13

This winter’s youth conference was centered on the verse, “the Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10.” We were blessed to have HG Bishop Paul with us for the weekend and he actually spoke to us about a number of topics. We all benefitted from his fiery words and wonderful talks.

After registering on Friday we had our first talk from Sayedna. He discussed some methods for fighting temptation and the importance of preparation, quiet time etc. to guard against sin. We had a chance before and after the first talk to see old friends and make new ones before going to sleep.

Thanks to the servants we were awoken at 7am and encouraged to go and do our quiet time to start the day well and with the Lord. After finishing breakfast we were ‘guided’ towards the church by Sayedna sprinkling water on us. After some worship songs we began our second talk. His Grace spoke about how we deal with hardship and difficulty in our lives. He then focused on the story of Jacob, how God never forgot him, fulfilled his promises and how he gave Jacob the tough love that we sometimes need! After some prayers we had time for a break during which we had lunch. When we returned to the church Sayedna continued using Jacob as a practical example for us explaining why God allows suffering in our lives. We then split of into workshop groups, after the customary photo. Sayedna asked the leaders of the workshops to get to the root of the main barriers or obstacles to our spiritual development and what we believe makes sin so attractive to us. We had some really beneficial, honest discussions. After some more free time we did Asheya. Later on in the day after having dinner Sayedna discussed when and how the blessings God promised Jacob became a reality and how this can happen to us too. We then began a beautiful prayer meeting with some really heartfelt worship and fiery prayers. Once this was over we saw the Christmas video that some of the Birmingham youth had prepared and watched a play they had made for the conference about God’s awesome love which made him send his only Son. We then began the Tasbeha, finishing the praises around 2am.

Waking up was a struggle but the Holy Liturgy with His Grace Bishop Paul and Abouna Peter was beautiful. After having Holy Communion we went for breakfast before returning to the church for the last time. Here Sayedna gave us his final talk with advice on how to deal with repetitive sins effectively and guidance on how to maintain the zeal we had gained from the conference. He also talked about the difficulties of the ‘narrow road’ and how we can follow it and mentioned the summary of a good spiritual life in the book of Mathew Chapters 5-7, advising us against shallow Christianity and about decision making in life.

We then packed our bags, said our good byes and all too soon the conference was over. I thank HG Bishop Bishop Paul for his blessing and his amazing talks. We also thank HG Bishop Missael for allowing us to stay in the centre. Thank you to Abouna Youhanna and Abouna Peter for all their guidance and help. A big thank you must go to all the servants from Birmingham and elsewhere who made everything happen. We are also extremely grateful to the ladies in the kitchen who fed us brilliantly through the weekend working extremely hard. God bless all those involved and reward them.

All the lectures are available to listen to on our website

 

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Copts Got Talent and a Half 2013

Christina Baghdady.


copts got talent logoLet me paint you this picture: sunshine beating on your skin, clear blue skies, the autumn luscious colours glaring out into the beautiful Nottingham skyline...perfect scenery no? Scrap that! As the thunder, showers and all that nature could throw befell us at that moment, determined crowds travelled from all corners of the Midlands to attend the first Copts Got Talent in Midlands. 

The Judges lined up, the crowds calmed to embrace the talents of upcoming performers, the smell of good grub made its way from the kitchens into the hall – we were all hungry for talent and food and we were not to be disappointed.

Lights - Camera – ACTION!
Our charming presenters (Bish and Paolo) of the evening stepped onto the stage preparing us all for the evening ahead. The 5 Judges introduced themselves to all present, and were only too ready to unleash their wisdom (wrath) on the performers who dared to grace the stage before them.

And then – Action: An Eritrean choir group blessed the gathering with their heart-warming cultural praises to Our Heavenly Father and Mother. The night was going to be filled with Beloved unity in our Lord, embracing the talents God gave us.
On the other hand, the judges were only too ready to pour out sarcasm and their ‘true’ knowledge of the arts onto their victims. Mwahaha! Does this sound like a Halloween show? No...it is safe to say we did not have any X-Factor horrifyingly amusing auditions (although we would certainly welcome that next year ☺)and no performers were booed off the stage (although again, that would be quite amusing if that happened next year – possibly – all done in Christ’s Love of course ☺).

The singing, magic card tricks, self-defence class, football kick ups and all who walked the stage of fame got an all round thumbs up from the crowds and yes indeed-the judges too. We are a talented bunch who can sow the seeds God planted in us to reap fruit. And as Copts, I’m not just talking ordinary fruit like oranges and apples...no-no: I’m talking Mango’s, Guava, Balah, Asab (Sugar Cane) – all that goodness! God is in every beautiful thing on this universe so let’s embrace it and share and most importantly reap!

The food was great, too! I believe that deserves a separate side note altogether – many thanks to all those who participated in the making of such wonderful grub!

On a personal note, what was so beautiful about the evening was this sense of one-ness. A unity – a family...a family in Christ. No matter what lightly sarcastic comments were made by the judges to the performers (ok Simon’a’ Cowell may have been slightly more mean – and will be dealt with in confession ☺) this was an event that brought the diocese together one more time. It was an event that celebrated the diversity of the many talents Our Heavenly Father has so freely given us. It was an evening that will, God willing, be the first of many C.G.T.5’s in years to come and for the generations of our FAMILY to experience and be a part of.

Special thanks to all the organisers (Pete, Nancy, Paolo, Bish and anyone else I may not have mentioned) for this wonderful event and all their hard work that has gone into this Remember: You Were There at C.G.T.5 2013! And If you weren’t there, all the more reason for you to come along next year. Bring on 2014!

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