The Coptic Church is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, a group which includes the Ethiopian Church, the Syrian Jacobite Church, the Syrian Church of India, and the Armenian Church. The Oriental Orthodox Group has around 60 million members worldwide.
The Church in Egypt
The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Church in the Middle East, with about 12 million faithful in Egypt. At the end of the twentieth century, estimates ranged from 6 to 11 million; 6% (official estimate) to 20% (Church estimate) of the population, the majority living in the Upper Egyptian provincial capitals of Assiut and Minya, and in Cairo.
Despite their numbers, Copts play little part in the running of Egypt. Only one Christian has since been appointed provincial governor, and that was for a brief period of two years in the remote governorate of North Sinai. Not one has since held a key cabinet portfolio; not one has even been appointed mayor of a city or town. Currently, Copts are sorely underrepresented in parliament, occupying only seven of 454 seats.
Copts in Egypt complain that they still suffer discrimination in the workplace and restrictions on church construction. They are concerned that new electoral rules are benefiting Islamist parties but not increasing Coptic political representation.
– Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Christians Oppressed, The Wall Street Journal, 18/11/2005
The Church around the World
Under the leadership of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, there is an increasing number of monasteries and convents in the deserts of Egypt, as well as new monasteries being established abroad in America, Europe, and Australia.
The Coptic Church is a dynamic church, always looking at the needs of her children, and trying to satisfy them to her best ability. Over the past thirty years, the Church has spread all over the world. Since his enthronement in 1971, H.H. Pope Shenouda III has established over 150 churches abroad in Africa, Europe, America, South America, Canada, and Australia.
In 1995, H.H. Pope Shenouda IIII called His Grace Bishop Serapion as the bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii.
However, the Church of Alexandria is by no means introspective or exclusive. At an official level, under the guidance of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the Church takes an active role in trying to restore the unity of the Christian faith. The Church is actively involved in official and unofficial dialogues with the major Christian Churches denominations. Additionally, the Church is currently a member of the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, the All African Council of Churches, and other such international, regional and local bodies.
At a personal level, the Church promotes the peace, love and unity taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. She teaches her children to be holy, constructive, and peaceful members of society; and to have good relations with all of its members, regardless of race, color or creed, thus enabling us to be worthy ambassadors of Jesus Christ.