SAINT MINA'S PROJECT FOR AGRICULTURE AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS IN TANTA - EGYPT
THE GOAL OF THE PROJECT:
The more eminent and the higher goal is to take care
of the needy and the poor throughout the diocese. This can be met by: putting
them to work and or giving them from the animal products, fruits and vegetables, thus
fulfilling the needs.
The diocese offer animal products on a regular basis especially on feasts of;
Nativity and Easter. This costs us at least 20 fully grown calves, and that is the start of the project.
The diocese offer animal products on a regular basis especially on feasts of; Nativity and Easter. This costs us at least 20 fully grown calves, and that is the start of the project.
OTHER GOALS ARE:
Egypt, repeatedly was mentioned in the Old Testament in so many prophecies by Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel the prophets.
In the first century, the Egyptians or as later were known as Copts, got their Christian Church established by St. Mark, who himself was from North Africa originally. Our church was one of the first few Christian churches of the world.
The church that exists today, is the same church that was established almost two thousands years by St. Mark who wrote the Gospel of St. Mark. He was considered the first bishop of the church and the present Patriarch , Pope Shenouda III, is the 117th pope of Egypt, or the 116th in succession to St. Mark. The church is also known as the Church of Alexandria the seat of St. Mark See.
The Egyptians spoke always Egyptian for thousands of years, till just only few centuries ago. During the Pharaonic time, they used Hieroglyphic figures in writing. When Egypt was occupied by the Greek, hundreds of years before Christ, the Egyptians found that the Greek alphabet was much easier than using Hieroglyphic, so they adopted the Greek alphabet for writing, after adding seven letters to adapt to some Egyptian pronunciations which were not found in the Greek alphabet. It is interesting to mention here that the Russians, also used the Greek letters hundreds years later. The language thus although Egyptian, yet was written with Greek letters. Egypt was invaded in the year 641 AD, by the Arabs who came from the Arabian Peninsula. The Egyptians continued to use their Egyptian language, which now became known to the Arabs as the Coptic language. For centuries the Egyptians were identified as "Copts". Gradually the Coptic language began to be less spoken by the 16th century. The churches kept their services and prayers in Coptic so it wouldn't be abolished completely. Few villages and some families continued to use the language in their homes up to the last century. As the number of Christians "Copts" who converted to Islam was on the rise for various reasons, the Muslim population became the majority along the years. Those who afforded to pay the religious tax "Gizyah", kept their faith, but had to learn Arabic so they can work and deal with the government. Lately there was a revival in the interest to learn and study Coptic, the language of their forefathers, among the new generation as Arabic was introduced in the churches for prayers since most of the people couldn't speak or understand Coptic. Many Coptic churches have classes to teach Coptic. Fortunately many prestigious universities world wide have departments for Egyptology and teach the Coptic language. In Egypt the High Institute of Coptic Studies and Clerical Colleges do teach Coptic, but none of the Egyptian universities at this time is known to offer such programs.
In the slang spoken Arabic in Egypt, there are numerous Coptic words that make it difficult to be understood by the Arabic speaking people in the countries of the Middle East, outside Egypt.Accordingly the Copts speak Arabic, in their every day dealings with life, but when they attend their churches, most of the prayers are read and repeated in Coptic, exactly as it was, since the first century.
The Egyptian "Coptic" Orthodox Church since the day it was established, has walked through hard times. Egypt has a unique geographical site along the Eastern Mediterranean Basin between Africa, Europe and Asia and many foreign powers were eager to occupy it. The history of the church is full of events of persecution and difficulties. When the church was found by St. Mark, Egypt was then occupied by the pagan Byzantine Empire. The church suffered a lot and thousands of its children were martyred. That was in the last part of the third century. Following the massive killing, that was so severe and traumatic the Egyptians began a new calendar called "The Martyr's calendar" ..The first day of the year begins in the month of September and is called the "Feast of Nayrouz". September, 1996 AD coincided with the year 1713 AM, the year of the Martyrs.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Byzantine Empire, the Egyptian Church got some relief, but not for long. After The Egyptian Church was leading the other churches in the Ecumenical Councils, being the guardian of Christianity, it found itself a victim of political plot in the Chalcedon Council and was unjustifiably called a Monophysitic church by the Western Churches. The Church of Alexandria "Egypt" became completely isolated. This was political than anything else and our church was attacked by the Western Churches. The Coptic Church has never believed in Monophysitism the way it was portrayed in the Council of Chalcedon! In that Council, monophysitism meant believing in one nature. Copts believe that the Lord is perfect in His divinity, and He is perfect in His humanity, but His divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word", which was reiterated by Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Copts, thus, believe in two natures "human" and "divine"that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye".
Now after centuries of mistrust and after it was tainted as heretic, the Western Churches came back to their sense and realized that there was no reason for the schism. We, the Copts are confident that unity between the churches will come sooner than later. In 641, when Egypt was invaded by the Arabs from the Arabian peninsula, were not met by any resistance. All the Egyptians then, were Christians, who suffered from the Byzantine rule and thought that the Muslims would be less hateful to them. The Muslim rule extended for centuries and the center of power changed from Arabia to Baghdad to Damascus and later Egypt became a part of the Ottoman Empire. There were periods when the Copts suffered from insane rulers like El Hakem Be-Amr Ellah, to more tolerant rulers. In the late 19th century the British occupied Egypt for over eighty years. Unfortunately, Britain, though a Christian country, adopted a malicious policy in Egypt based on "divide & rule" and widened the gap between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority in Egypt. It implanted theories that would divide the country and some of these principles are still felt in our time, equally unfair to the Copts, like some of the laws that still are in effect from the Ottoman's era.
It is of interest to mention that the seal of the Coptic Patriarchate in Egypt which is written in Coptic, does not name it as the Coptic Patriarchate, but rather "The Patriarchate of "Kimi" which is the old name of Egypt.
UNIVERSAL OR LOCAL CHURCH ?
The Egyptian church till recently, just less than thirty years ago, was limited to Egypt beside a diocese in Sudan, Jerusalem and an affiliated church in Ethiopia. It has a formal title which includes the five Western Cities in North Africa, with no real churches that support the title. With the grace of God, in the last thirty years, the Coptic Church has become a universal church. There are now many Coptic churches that belongs to the See of St. Mark, in most of the European countries, United States of America, Canada. Australia, Africa and the Middle East. The British Orthodox Church and two dioceses in France joined the Coptic Church. Many Coptic Bishops have been seated in many regions in the world. Monasteries were established too in USA and Europe and many Clerical colleges were opened. The prestigious St. Shenouda Society, in Los Angeles California, earned the respect of the universities in Europe and the States with the tireless effort of its president Mr. Hany Takla and translated numerous ancient Coptic manuscripts and exhibited the treasures of the past.