2016 saw the third annual CONAFA tournament take place in Nottingham. Teams had prepared and were ready to go; with a total of 11 teams, and with God's grace, it promised to be a great tournament.
Unfortunately, the Republic of Ireland were unable to make the tournament this year, however – we were thrilled to welcome debutants St. Mary & St. George, East London.
As per usual, the tournament kicked off early on Saturday morning with a group prayer and photo; shortly followed by kick-off; with the favourites and previous 2015 winners Brighton looking particularly strong. That said, each team showed a fantastic level of teamwork and effort as the day went on.
As the group matches progressed, it became more and more apparent who would make the knockout stages, in this case, St. Mary & St Mina, Manchester and St. Mary & Archangel Michael, Golders Green from group A, and St Antony, Rotherham, and St. Mary & St. Abraam, Brighton from group B.
Sunday morning arrived, which was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend; the liturgy. Everyone gathered together in fellowship, in Christ's name to pray together and thank God for the weekend so far.
Before we knew it, it was the semi-finals; in one match Golders Green vs Brighton, and in the other match an all-northern affair with Rotherham vs Manchester. Both games were decided with a single goal, going in the favour of Manchester and Brighton. The final had great expectations, and rightly so – a thrilling encounter of 2 extremely determined and talented teams. The encounter was so close that the deciding goal came only a few minutes before the final whistle, in the favour of underdogs Manchester!
The final whistle blew, and the CONAFA tournament was coming to an end. Three different winners in as many years can only suggest an extremely high and competitive level, which was certainly shown by all participating players and teams this year.
The CONAFA board would like to thank all those who made the effort to come to Nottingham, in particular the team captains and representatives; had it not been for all of you, the tournament would not have happened.
On the weekend of the 18th of December we had our first Coptic hymns conference with Mr George Kyrillos as the main speaker. Needless to say that I was looking forward to it as it would be a great opportunity to learn about the hymns of the church, our Coptic hymns.
On Friday we had a crash course on musical notation and Copticalphabet to bring us up to scratch to be able to learn the hymns. By Friday evening I now know the difference between a minim and a quaver, but although my Coptic vastly improved I have yet to master the letters with multiple sounds (). With the basics done we started our first of seven hymns Osperin.
Before any hymns we had workshops to dissect the five aspects of each hymn, or their dimensions. The dimensions covered the doctrine, historical, ritual, spiritual and musical facet of each hymn. This gave us a greater understanding to fully appreciate each hymn, especially why it was sung in that specific tune, and when it was said during the Divine Liturgy.
Saturday was our full day for hymns and by the end we had covered a further four. The conference carried on after the Divine Liturgy on Sunday at the centre, so we had another surge of people joining us for the remaining three Hymns. Over the two days we had covered Epshios Efnoti, Owniyato, Onof Emoo Maria, Amin Ton Thanaton, and finally Eparthenos. In between, there was a sketch to entertain us and a treasure hunt culminating with lunch in the hall. A worthy prize for our toils.
Finally on Monday the beautiful weekend conference was rounded to a close with a concert preforming the greatest hits from the weekend by our very own youth. It was a lovely concert that showcased the excellent talent and hard work of our performers. It left the multitude who attended amazed to the wonderful treasure we have in our Coptic church, yearning for more.
We pray that is the start of a long running series at our church leaning about our Coptic hymns. We thank Mr George Kyrillos and his wife Dr Maha Fawzy for a great conference and we are eagerly looking forward to another one.
The recordings of the talks, hymns, concert and sketch are available along with the photos on the diocese website.
It was great to have H.G. Bishop Paul back again with us for another conference. This year we had the conference on the weekend of the 4th of December. The theme of the conference was salvation and “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” Hebrews 2:3.
Upon arriving we were given the welcome pack by the organised registration team. The first of Bishop Paul’s talks started on Friday and of course we can't forget the gifts he came with from Kenya giving them out to any and all answers. The first talk set the mood for the weekend and it was on how great is our salvation and how it is an expensive unconditional gift, given to us all for free.
Nice and early on Saturday we had a Divine Litrugy to celebrate the feast of St Philopateer Mercurius (Abu Sefein). Through the day we had a few talks from His Grace and an entertaining 5 minute sketch, group discussion and hymns with prayers to complement the talks. The talks covered many topics; including how through the deception of the devil and through temptation of false joys and sins, we are enslaved and made lame losing our salvation. But that the Grace of God is greater than our weakness and through God we can be victorious like Joshua. That I can do all through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) if I take the helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17) and trust the Lord. The group work allowed us to sit together and discuss the themes of the day and whether we are in God’s plan or have strayed like Samson. Coming up with interesting points, plans and ideas that we could use in the future.
Sunday concluded the conference with a morning mass, quite time and the final talk from Bishop Paul in which he stressed on the importance of trusting the Lord fully for everything in our lives and our plans and not to look for joy elsewhere.
I would highly recommend to watch / listen to the talks available on the website as they are great. We thank H.G.Bishop Paul for a great conference and we eagerly look forward for another one.
With great joy, the Diocese announces three ordinations by the laying of hands by His Grace Bishop Missael which took place on Sunday 22nd November 2015 at the Coptic Centre.
Fr. John was ordained as a hegumen by His Grace Bishop Missael; Fr. John has served the Church of St. Mary & St. Abaskhyroun in North wales since his ordination in 2008.
Dr. Mokhlis Mina was elevated to the rank of Archdeacon, being ordained on the Church of St. Mary & Archangel Michael in Solihull by His Grace.
His Grace also elevated Chanter Keith Bailey to the rank of Reader on the Church of St. Mary & St. Abu-Sefein in the Coptic Centre.
We thank His Grace Bishop Missael and ask the Lord to keep him in widening the diocese and the appointment of new servants. We pray that the Lord may bless the service of each one for many years to come.