Sunday, February 10, 2008

Coptic Church, Stevenage. 8.30 am 10/02/08

Sunrise is undoubtedly the best part of the day, so as we travelled into a raising sun this morning I was expecting glorious things.

The Coptic Church is described as the Egyptian Othodox Church, so the service was performed in Arabic, sung and spoken English. It did feel like we were toruists in a foreign land at some points, but like St Hugh's we have our traditions when setting up for church, they did too.

Arriving at the church site you are greeted with a huge mozaic of Jesus and angels (the exact same mozaic is behind the altar table). Walking in through big wooden doors and then some nice glass ones, noticing that the nativity scene was up in the foyer.

In this church the patterns all match, the etched glass, the celing, the lectern, the panneling on the back wall. Was good to see that there was some continuity throughout. This place is a Cathedral, with LCD screens, a balcony, and a side room for baptism. Marble flooring made my shoes a lot louder than they are on the carpet at St Hugh's. Oh and did I mention the icons? No, well it'd be hard to miss them. They are quite huge.

We were welcomed with a very polite smile and a few questions from (what seemed to be) the second in command. Then when the preist had finished, a student read the first reading of the day in garbled English. Then we had the brief history before being lead to the side room.

An hour long ceremony commenced, which was the blessing of the water, and reading of scriptures, then baptism itself and confirmation.

**this bit I didn't understand, I need to find out what confirmation means to the coptic church, in order to understand why they have it done on the same day**

Baptism is by full immersion which the girls didn't like at all. The leader/preist guy wasn't pushy but he had a scary beard and getting your head pushed under water isn't nice even if you have been warned! Oh and only the parents renounce the devil (to the west) and confirm their faith in Christ (to the east).

Ther service for the regular members of the congregation was about to start, so we headed back to St Hugh's. Pleased with the experience and wishing the parents luck as they had another 4 hours or half-english/half-arabic to sit through in order for their children to take first communion. Boy I hope I get to see the parents this week to share with them.

Long winded, yes, but then the church has never been short. Where God guides we go... I'll keep trying to get around to other churches this year, it's an experience!