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This was especially helpful because the worship service / liturgy switches between English, Coptic, and Arabic as the Priest feels appropriate. Basil) has three columns that parallel the three languages. They were ok with small kids wandering around and being silly, and okay with people interacting with each other throughout the service.
This broke a major stereotype I had when I walked in. In what ways does the environment enhance/distract from worship? Orthodox to the max 🙂 What I mean by this is that the room contained icons everywhere.
The church could also be described as a family environment. I saw babies, kids, teens, young adults, young families, middle-agers, grandparents, and the elderly.
They are nit together by their unique culture and unique approach to Christian faith and practice. I think this was the only couple there that was not both Egyptian.
This church is nearly homogenous in its ethnic category.
After this first half of the service, came the sermon (mentioned above). Note the level of participation in worship: Was the congregation predominantly active or passive? What was the role of the worship leader or leaders?What environmental aids and symbols have been used? These were icons of saints, biblical characters, and Jesus.It was like I was stepping into the third century in many ways.Interestingly, young girls are allowed near the altar (as they have not had a period yet) and technically, old women who are post-menopausal are also allowed back there.So much more I could say about gender mutuality but this gives an adequate picture.
The reason is that women are ritualistically viewed as unclean because they have a menstrual cycle.