Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
www.suscopts.org
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In May 2011, I will be getting engaged to a Coptic Christian in his Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt. He and I have had many discussions about our faith, and I have done a lot of research and reading about Coptic Orthodoxy. We both feel it is important for our family to have the same faith, and to raise our future children with the same beliefs. After all I have learned, I feel 100% that Coptic Orthodoxy is the right faith for me and our family. I am seeking information on how to become Coptic and what steps I need to take to do so. Regarding me, I am Christian and accept our Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was raised Baptist, but I am currently not a member of a church, and have never been baptized.
 
The closest Coptic Church is located in a state in the SUS Diocese. However, it is about an hour and fifteen minutes from where I live. I would love to attend as often as possible, but I currently do not have a vehicle, so I will be relying on my father to take me. I would love your advice on what I should do? Is it okay to just go as often as I'm able or will this affect my being able to convert? This is very important to me, and I will try my hardest to attend regularly, but it might not be possible to go weekly due to the distance. Also, when I do go to the Church, is there anything in particular I should discuss with the Priest? My fiancée and I are planning to be engaged this May, and I know in order for this to happen, I will need to convert before the engagement ceremony. It is already February. Is this enough time for me to speak with a priest, learn more about Coptic Orthodoxy, and become a member of the faith?

I am very glad to hear that you are accepting the Coptic Orthodox faith on its own merit and not just for the sake of marriage. Your convictions in the faith will be of great strength for you and your future husband, your children in the future, and your entire household. It is important to read the Holy Scriptures together and individually, enjoy talks about spiritual things together, and attend as many church services and functions as you can. Thus, the churchwill become a majorpart of your lives. We cannot function without it. The church must also be in our homes. Invite the church priest, your family,friends, colleagues, and neighborsfor a monthly Holy Bible Study andconstruct your family and your home into a small church and a house of angels.

"Comparative Theology" by H. H. Pope Shenouda III is a very good resource especially for those converting from a Protestant background. The Baptist Church is known to be biblically inclined, but you will find that the Coptic Orthodox Church is far more enriching because it takes in all of the Holy Scriptures, not only specific verses, and is also inclusive of the Holy Books known as the Deuterocanonical Books.

"Introduction to the Coptic Church" by the Rev. Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty is also another great source to use for understanding the church's history through a quick synopsis of various eras of the Coptic Orthodox Church, its miraculous perseverance from its inception and until now, and its many significant contributions of faith, sound doctrine, the Divine Liturgies, and the saints of their time who helped sustain the church by their prayers.

"How to Benefit from the Holy Liturgy" by His Grace Bishop Mettaous reveals the depth and details of the Divine Liturgy. This book will help you understand the various symbols, rituals, readings, and the order of the three Divine Liturgies used in the church, so that you may fully participate and indeed benefit.

The steps into the Coptic Orthodox Church begin with faith and the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, immediately followed byChrismation (confirmation by the anointing of the Holy Myron Oil), and then followed by partaking of the Holy Eucharist (the holy body and precious blood of Christ). The night before Holy Baptism, you will be allowed to partake of the Holy Sacrament of Confession, so that with a pure conscience you may partake of the rest of the Holy Mysteries. Confession is revealing the hindrances in your life that interfere with the maturation of your spiritual life. One must reveal indiscretions,offenses, thoughts, desires, and deeds that are incongruent with God's will and the things that are pleasing to Him. Confession is also a renewaland a cleansing since Baptism is only performed once.I encourage you to continue to search through the various literature on the Diocese website, attend conferences and conventions, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. There is time for you to be baptized before May.

There are several pre-marital conferences each year in various locations throughout the Diocese. Please visit the Diocese website for more details. It is important that each couple attend at least one of these conferences before marriage.I am sure you will both benefit.

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