Our diocese's second Apologetics seminar was held at St. Mary and Archangel Michael in Solihull on the 28th of March 2015. The theme of this seminar was "Pain and Suffering" in preparation for our Lord's Holy Passion Week that is celebrated 4-12 of April.
The seminar started off with an introductory talk about how an Almighty and All-loving and Good God could allow for so much suffering and evil in the world. The next talk discussed in more detail what came to be known as the "Impossible Trinity" (Inconsistent Triad) and how Christ's Passion has given a new vision and meaning to the suffering of man.
We were also blessed to have a comprehensive talk from our beloved Fr. Peter Farrington, a priest of the British Orthodox Church, who also answered many questions on this topic. The final talk focused more on the hidden blessings and treasures that we could gain from enduring pain.
We all have learned so much from these wonderful talks and discussions, and it was a great opportunity to get some satisfying answers on so many questions that we are asked outside the church or that we ask ourselves so very often.
After the success of the 2014 edition of the Coptic Orthodox National Annual Football Association tournament (CONAFA), 2015 was always going to be an interesting year, with the news that the second edition of the tournament will be taking place.
Last year, nine teams gathered together in fellowship with Christ; this year a record eleven teams entered the tournament, making this the biggest Coptic football tournament to ever take place in the UK. This excitement was evident when the news confirmed that the Coptic Churches in the Republic of Ireland were prepared to travel to England to take part in the tournament.
The hosts of CONAFA, St. Mary & St. George Nottingham, finalists of the 2014 edition, were out to try and go one step further and lift the trophy in their own back yard. Expectations for the Nottingham team had risen after having unexpectedly won the 2014 COFTA tournament, annually held in Stevenage.
The only previous winners of the tournament, St. Mark’s of Kensington, London - were out to defend their title. Other teams included the likes of St. Mary & St. Mina, Manchester, a team who were very much looking forward to CONAFA. St. Mary & St. Mark, Birmingham were another northern team to enter, having been drawn in a group alongside a number of good sides. St. Mary & Archangel Michael, Golders Green – semi-finalists from last year’s COFTA tournament were also present representing the South. Other teams included St. Mary & St. Shenouda, Croydon, St. Antony, Rotherham as well as the Eritrean Orthodox team. No tournament would be complete without the hosts of the annual COFTA tournament, Stevenage, who lined up in Group B alongside a number of solid teams.
The new editions to this years tournament, were (as mentioned) the Republic of Ireland, and St. Mary & St. Abraam, Brighton – who had previously set a record of 4 years without losing a single match; until September.
Saturday was an exhausting day for many players. With eleven teams present, a large number of games had to be played. With St. Mary & St. George, Nottingham and St. Mary & Archangel Michael progressing from group A, and St. Mary & St. Abraam, Brighton and St. Mary & St. Mina, Manchester progressing from group B, the semi-finals on Sunday were extremely well set up.
A fully-packed liturgy on Sunday morning was a perfect example of what the weekend is all about; with gathering together in one body in Christ being the whole point of the weekend.
The matches on Sunday went ahead on schedule with Brighton and Golders Green progressing into the final, with the favourites, Brighton winning after a narrow 1-0 victory.
Regardless of how far each team made it in the tournament, there was a real sense of fellowship among everyone. It was a pleasure to see such a good level of discipline and fellowship throughout the weekend and we are hoping CONAFA will be back in 2016 with even more familiar faces!
Special thanks should go out to all the representatives and captains for organising their teams, as it would not have happened without your dedication and hard work.
On the 13th-15th March 2015 the Diocese held its first evangelism event in the third annual Servants Retreat.
The programme included talks from Fr Bishoy, Fr Youhanna, Fr Peter, Dr Rafat Saad, Dr Fahmy Hanna, worship, midnight praises, a private Liturgy on Saturday and a Liturgy on Sunday with His Grace Bishop Missael.
All talks circulated around evangelism, Fr Bishoy and Fr Youhanna focused on the necessity of evangelism and how we should approach preaching, as well as the benefits. Fr Bishoy answered questions regarding obstacles we may face when evangelising. Fr Youhanna presented to us character studies of Joseph and Daniel - how they changed the world and how we also can do the same. Dr Rafat Saad focused on the book of Acts as the book contains the details of Jesus’s preaching and how he told his disciples to preach and spread the word of God. Dr Fahmy Hanna tackled the debate of Christianity vs Science explaining how they do not contradict but in fact, go hand in hand. Fr Peter concluded the weekend by talking about how we witness to Christ.
The conference allowed each Church in the Diocese to come together in fellowship and gain a new perspective on Evangelism. Not only did the importance of taking small steps shine through, it also became clear that a lot of the time our actions speak louder than words. Through our approach to life and our attempts to love as Jesus does; everyone around us will see that we are true reflections of Christ. It is not necessarily through our own knowledge and actions we evangelise but through the grace of God and the Holy Spirit inside of us that the word of God shines from within us. Though we may face challenges in our evangelism, particularly with those who wish just to argue for fear of having to believe in and answer to God, it is in Christ we shall find strength. It is our duty to bring Christ to man, not man to Christ.
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II announced the inclusion of the 21 Coptic New Martyrs of Libya in the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church today. Every year, they will be commemorated on 8 Amshir in the Coptic calendar, which corresponds to 15 February in the Gregorian calendar, the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
Axios, Axios, Axios!
This beautiful icon, which is also featured on the front page (modified), was drawn by Tony Rezk. May the Lord reward his talents.