International Orthodox Christian News

International Coptic Mission Conference - Vision, Mission, & Strategy

On February 3 - 5, over 130 servants from the Coptic Mission countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia gathered together with His Grace Bishop Paul and 10 priests to conduct seminars, trainings, and workshops for the future of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa. The three-day conference was a time of spending long nights in prayer for God to lead the mission and give us His ideas, strategizing, and seeing a united vision for our churches. Also, the conference was full of fellowship, praise and worship, and many hugs and smiles all around. Truly, it was a wonderful way to unite our churches within Kenya and the other African countries. One year ago, the many tribal problems within Kenya were completely forgotten with different tribes working together for one purpose - to grow the Kingdom of God.

Many surrounding churches were also excited about this conference that they requested to join so that they can learn from our church in order to take it back to their churches. Over 70 visiting members from various churches, including Catholic, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant, came to learn and share ideas from their own churches. We learned a valuable lesson that we are all one body serving Jesus Christ without competition.

From our strategic planning sessions, we discussed the three stages of a member in the Coptic Orthodox Church, which are New Member, Mature Member, and Missionary. Once we bring in a new person, when they are ready, they will attend a Catechism course on the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Once baptized, the new member will move into the Mature Member stage. In this stage, we focused on creating a lively worship service for the member. This includes understanding the Liturgy and learning the songs of worship. Also, the member will create a loving and accepting church for other new members. As the member grows in the church, we will also focus on discipleship of that member. Through discipleship, there will be many things such as joining a pre-servant’s class, servant’s class, deacon’s class, and if applicable, the St. Athanasius Theological School in Maseno, Kenya. In the final stage in the growth of a church member, we are creating missionaries to go out, evangelize, share the Word of God, and serve Him.

The servants were excited to be a part of the vision and strategy planning. The servants came up with many creative ideas within each stage of a member’s growth during the group workshops. Further, the servants created steering committees to implement the strategies discussed as well reporting and follow-up for each area discussed.

The conference was an accomplishment to all those that prayed and worked so hard. Yet, it began even before the conference when H.G. Bishop Paul and all the priests had a planning and prayer time before the conference. This time was used for spiritual nourishment as the priests learned about the life of Joseph. Also, the priests came together to create this vision for the churches and to establish various curriculums for courses, such as catechism, pre-servants, servants, retreats and deacons classes. Although an exhausting time of late nights, preparation, and team meetings, the planning time proved to be a success.

Overall, the time together was truly fruitful and time of bonding, working together, sharing ideas, praying for our challenges, and uniting to create one vision and mission for all the churches in Africa under the leadership of our shepherd, H.G. Bishop Paul and through the prayers of our father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. We thank God for this opportunity and we ask the rest of the world to pray for us and the future of our church in creating strong leaders for the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa.


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