Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Message from His Grace

"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:4-8).

"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10).

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

I am writing to share with you my plans for developing and expanding education in the SUS Diocese. These ideas stem from my aspirations for our educational programs to adopt a holistic approach to the individual and to produce true disciples of Christ.

I have observed a striking difference in our young professionals who work for corporations which invest in their human development. These young people, who have been trained in critical thinking, team work, and time management, are more mature and have better analytical, organizational and communication skills than their peers. They import the skills they learned at the office into their spiritual lives and their service. They benefit themselves and those around them. I too want to invest in human development. I want our educational programs to enrich the whole individual; to nurture their spiritual as well as their mental, psychological, emotional and social development to their fullest potential.

Regarding spiritual development, many of you have heard me discuss the differences among 'pupils', 'students', and 'disciples'. Our educational programs have been remarkably successful in producing very knowledgeable students. Now I want our "students" to graduate from learning Orthodox Christianity to living Orthodox Christianity. I want our educational programs to produce true disciples of Christ: individuals who accept and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The considerable needs of the congregation are surpassed only by the zeal of the servants. As a result of the servants' labors, the SUS Diocese educational programs have accomplished many great achievements in a relatively short period of time. I am extremely proud of the quality of our educational programs. The seriousness, strength, and unsurpassed love of the servants encourage me to aim higher.

Incorporating human development and discipleship into our educational programs is not a simple task. And I will not add to already overloaded responsibilities without providing additional resources. For this reason I have formed a board of education: to serve the SUS Diocese's educational programs so that administrators and instructors can focus on their mission.

The SUS board of education will provide oversight and integration of all educational programs - while respecting the autonomy of each of the educational programs and offer the resources, support and infrastructure our educational teams need to continue their progress. The SUS board of education will organize, but not necessarily centralize, the academic, administrative, finance and information technology functions.

Working in partnership, the educational programs and the board of education will assess where we are, where we need to go, and, most importantly, how to get there. Together, all the servants will implement a work plan, address challenges and as with all successful organizations, we will continually review progress and strive for improvements to assure ongoing highest possible quality educational programs. Through cooperation and collaboration we will be able to realize human development and discipleship in our educational programs and much more.

May we all men and women learn to be servants of the Lord not looking for an office or a title but with all humility serve one another as brothers and sisters, members of the Body of Christ. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit Who indwells in us make us trustworthy to minister to others, to deliver God's message and to be called the helper of all.

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States