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The Coptic Church - The Clergy Order

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The Clergy Order

The Coptic Orthodox Church's clergy is headed by the Pope of Alexandria. The Pope of the Coptic Church, although highly regarded by all Copts, does not enjoy any state of supremacy or infallibility. There are Metropolitans and Bishops who oversee the priests ordained in their dioceses. There are also General Bishops who are overseeing general aspects in the Coptic Church, i.e. Bishop of Youth or Bishop of Ecumenical & Social Services. The Pope, Metropolitans and Bishops must be monks; they are all members of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod (Council), which meets regularly to oversee matters of faith and pastoral care of the Church. The direct pastoral responsibility of Coptic congregations falls on Priests, who must be married and commonly have attended the Catechetical School before being ordained. Today, there are over 60 Coptic Bishops governing dioceses inside Egypt as well as dioceses outside Egypt, such as in the United States, England, France, Australia, West Africa, Jerusalem and many others. "Deacon" is a Greek word, meaning “servant” in Syrian. The deacon’s responsibility is to help the priest or bishop perform the religious ministry. The first church appointed seven deacons who were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to help in service, “The twelve summoned the multitude of disciples and said: ‘Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business’” (Acts 6:2,3).

Outline of the clergy order:

  1. Patriarch (Pope)
  2. Metropolitan
  3. Bishop
  4. Hegumen (Archpriest)
  5. Priest
  6. Archdeacon (Leader of Deacons)
  7. Deacon
  8. Epideacon (Assistan-Deacon)
  9. Ognostis (Reader)
  10. Epsaltos (Hymnist)


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