Bishop Andrew and Bishop Jo welcomed the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, to Guildford last night as part of his first pastoral visit to the UK – during which he has also met the Archbishop of Canterbury and HM The Queen.
After a visit to our local Coptic Church in Gomshall earlier in the day, His Holiness and his accompanying dignitaries were greeted by our bishops at a reception held at The Mandolay Hotel on London Road. Other representatives of the Guildford community there to welcome the Coptic Pope included Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux, who opened the welcoming speeches.
See more photos of the evening in our Flickr album
In her welcome speech to Pope Tawadros at the hotel reception, Bishop Jo spoke of her joy and the privilege of working with the Coptic Church locally, saying:
“Here in Guildford we serve alongside Fr Dawoud Anthony, Dr Albert Attalla and the good people of St Augustine’s Church in Gomshall. In a couple of weeks’ time we shall celebrate Pentecost together, with a shared pilgrimage, a festival of prayer and food, where along with millions of Christians across this country and around the world we shall pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Thank you for the signs of the Kingdom which are evident among your people, not least those who have made their home here. They are so welcome; indeed they are a gift.”
Read Bishop Jo’s full speech here.
Bishop Andrew echoed Bishop Jo’s sentiments of fellowship, presenting Pope Tawadros with a diocesan medal to represent the oneness of the whole Christian community:
“As a sign of that oneness I would like to present your holiness with this gift of a medal from the Diocese of Guildford. On one side is a picture of our Cathedral, which is built on Stag Hill, hence the stag beneath it. On the other is a picture of the angel who stands atop our Cathedral tower as a reminder of our need for God to watch over our community. This tiny gift – and the gracious hospitality of this evening – reminds us of our unity in Christ. We praise God for it, we treasure it, and we pray for our Coptic brothers and sisters in Egypt and throughout the world, just as we covet your prayers for us: that we might be rooted and grounded in the love of our crucified and risen Lord.”
Read Bishop Andrew’s full speech here.
In his speech of thanks, the Coptic Pope spoke of three key human needs: prayer, thankfulness and happiness, explaining that without prayer we can’t be thankful and without being thankful we cannot be happy. Using imagery of a cook in the monastery, up all night making the bread and praying throughout, “blending food with prayer and prayer with food”, he spoke of how our daily lives should blend continually with prayer: “Prayer in its substance is gratitude.”
According to its tradition, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria was established by the apostle Saint Mark in the middle of the 1st century. It has around 22 million members worldwide, with 20 million in Egypt. Pope Tawadros is the 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He presides from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.
Earlier in his UK visit, the Coptic Pope met with The Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, where they spent time discussing the situation of the Coptic Church in Egypt, and the challenges and opportunities facing both Coptic and Anglican Christians in the country, before attending Evensong together at Westminster Abbey. His Holiness also met with HM The Queen at Windsor Castle.