Though different from our evangelical congregations back in America, the Coptic community offered us a vibrant place of faith where the gospel was preached, people were healed, and members strengthened each other. We sat through large open-air services with lively worship led by a praise team. We also attended solemn masses in hushed Arabic tones. Led by a soft-spoken priest simply called Abouna (“Our Father”), we often felt like we were discovering the early church.
We found ourselves in a church that identifies strongly with ancient traditions. The 13-month Coptic calendar is marked by a specific liturgy for feasts; two-thirds of the Coptic year is spent in times of prayer and fasting. Icons from the past surrounded us, with more than one million saints recognized as having come out of the Egyptian church.