Coptic Bishop Speaking at McMurry

By PHILIP LeMASTERS

With the support of the Lilly Fellows Program and the Abilene Interfaith Council, the Department of Religion and Philosophy of McMurry University is sponsoring three lectures on “Coptic-Muslim Interactions Across the Centuries” Feb. 7 and 8.

The lectures will be presented by Bishop Anba Suriel, Ph.D. Bishop Suriel serves in the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles and participates regularly in interfaith dialogues toward the end of better under understanding between religious communities. He will speak in Matthews Auditorium in Old Main on the McMurry campus at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 and at 3 and 7 p.m. Feb. 8. The public is invited to the free lectures.

Click on the links below for livestreaming:

2/7   7 p.m.:  Copts and Muslims:  From Early Islam to the Ottoman Period
https://youtu.be/Kx5yE7TYbiY

2/8   3 p.m.:  Copts and Muslims in the Early Nationalist Movement (1879-1919)
https://youtu.be/u9rbA_m0XuU
2/8   7 p.m.:  Cooperation or Co-existence?  Modern Developments in the 20th and 21st Centuries Between Copts and Muslims
https://youtu.be/osJeY5PiShE

Bishop Anba Suriel,

His Feb. 7 lecture will be on “Copts and Muslims:  From Early Islam to the Ottoman Period.”  His Feb. 8 lectures will begin at 3 and 7 p.m. The afternoon talk will be on “Copts and Muslims in the Early Nationalist Movement (1879-1919),” and the evening lecture will be on “Cooperation or Coexistence? Modern Developments in the 20th and 21st Centuries Between Copts and Muslims.” 

For most American Christians, interaction and dialogue with Muslims is something new. That is certainly not the case for the Christians of Egypt, the vast majority of whom are members of the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church. The word “Coptic” means “Egyptian,” and the Church has been an integral part of the country for two thousand years. St. Mark is traditionally credited with bringing the gospel to Egypt in the first century. Islam came to Egypt in the 7th century, but the country remained majority Christian for hundreds of years. Now perhaps 10 percent of Egyptians are Christian with the remaining 90 percent of the population being Muslim. 

Coptic Christians seek peace and mutual understanding with their neighbors and sponsor clinics and schools that serve their fellow Egyptians, regardless of religious identity. In doing so, they provide a model of dialogue and service that exemplifies the love of Jesus Christ. Everyone is welcome to learn about how Coptic Christians have interacted with Islam from Bishop Suriel’s upcoming lectures. 

Dr.  Philip LeMasters is professor of religion at McMurry University and priest of Saint Luke Orthodox Christian Church, Abilene.  

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