Support the Philos Project and the Coptic Leadership Initiative:

Learning about our neighbors


The Coptic Leadership Initiative is an education-based advocacy campaign that celebrates the Coptic community's most prominent contributions to Christianity and Egyptian culture. The campaign will launch the St. Mark's Eastern Christian Leadership Program, which will equip 20-30 outstanding young Eastern Christians from different national and denominational backgrounds with the leadership skills they need to advocate for pluralism and religious freedom in their home countries. 
Explore the page and make sure to check back regularly for further updates and resources!

Copts are a distinct ethnoreligious group, indigenous to Egypt, that constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East. The Coptic Church is one of the oldest Christian denominations in history, with roots tracing back to just ten years after the death of Christ. Before the Muslim conquest, Coptic Christians were the majority in Egypt for hundreds of years. 

Mark the Apostle brought Christianity to Alexandria, Egypt sometime between 42 and 62 AD. Alexandria soon became a vibrant hub for religion and theology. Many of the great early Christian philosophers—Clement, Pantaenus, Origen-- were trained at the Catechetical School of Alexandria, where the first system of Christian theology and Biblical exegesis was formed. Some of the most significant official doctrinal proclamations within Christianity, such as the belief that Jesus is One and equal with the Father, were promulgated by councils led by Coptic patriarchs in the fourth and fifth centuries. 


The largest church within the Coptic community in Egypt is the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The Coptic Orthodox Church considers itself a living extension of the apostolic church in life, spirituality, liturgies and dogmas. Unlike other denominations of Christianity, the Coptic Church never underwent any major reformations and thus has preserved many original traditions of the early Christians.  

Early Coptic leaders such as St. Athanasius (296-373) ardently defended what many Christians accept today as the concept of the Trinity. At the first ecumenical council in Nicaea in 325 AD, St. Athanasius debated against Arianism, which denies the divinity of Christ and considers Him a created being. Athanasius successfully defended the Trinitarian belief that Jesus is coeternal and consubstantial with the Father. Athanasius is also believed to be the author of the Nicene Creed, which is recited throughout many churches today.  

Coptic Christians practice the sacraments of baptism, chrismation, repentance and confession, the eucharist, unction of the sick, matrimony, and priesthood/holy orders. They have their own liturgy, ceremonial calendar, clerical hierarchy and pope. The Pope of the Coptic Church, currently; Pope Tawadros II, oversees matters of faith and pastoral care. He is highly regarded by all Copts but does not occupy any state of supremacy or infallibility. Unlike many Christians who operate on the Gregorian calendar, Copts follow the Julian calendar. This means that common holidays such as Christmas and Easter fall on different days for Copts than many other Christian denominations.  


As Christians, we care about the entire body of Christ; our brothers and sisters from every corner of the world.  

The Coptic Church received the nickname ‘Church of the Martyrs,’ because of the significant number of Copts historically who died for their faith. Today, Copts continue to face serious threats in Egypt. Because negative stereotypes of Copts are pervasive throughout Egyptian society, Copts lack necessary protections and rights to function as fully equal citizens. Persistent and deadly attacks on Coptic churches, homes and communities has killed hundreds of Copts in recent years. Currently, Egypt is #16 on the World Watch List for Islamic oppression against Christians.  

Perhaps more striking than the plight of the Coptic people, is their response to it. Countless Coptic testimonies of faith and endurance in the face of unspeakable evil serve as a reminder to Christians everywhere that there is something so uniquely powerful in the message of the Gospel; that Christ is utterly and completely worth living and dying for.  

In many ways, the Western Church is currently undergoing a crisis; an absence of awareness and respect for the origins of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Now is the time where the Western Church must look to the East, to the examples demonstrated by Copts, to rediscover our Christian roots. Our Coptic brothers and sisters represent a return to the heart of Christianity: loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind. 


Support The Philos Project to help us provide educational content on Copts and the other Christian communities of the Middle East.

Community Building

We want you to get involved with your local Coptic community. Learn more about their culture, faith and traditions, and share your own!


Copts are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. They also face a shocking amount of violence and persecution solely for their Christian faith. 

St. Mark's Project

Philos Fellow Mina Adelmalak is launching a project to equip young Coptic leaders to advocate for and  champion their rich history and culture. 



Mina was born and raised in Egypt and received a law degree from Ain Shams University in Egypt. He worked as a legal researcher for the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth (EULY), a Cairo-based, non-profit organization, which promotes classical liberalism among Egyptian youth. He supervised a program within EULY on the status of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

As a fellow for The Philos Project, Mina spearheads all activities focused on the Coptic people. He has a special initiative, St. Mark's Project, which is a leadership-building program for young Coptic adults.


 FAQ's on Coptic Christians

Since the majority of Christians in the United States and other western countries belong to western churches, knowledge and understanding of churches of Eastern traditions is often limited.

Curious how the Coptic Church differs not just from the Western Church, but from other Eastern traditions as well? Wondering how long the church and the people have been around for? Toggle the chart to find out! 

After you have finished reading through the FAQs, go deeper by exploring the interactive timeline, found below.   

How are Copts different from other Egyptians?

Coptic Christians have a distinct ethnoreligious identity. Copts are also indigenous to Egypt and inhabited the land, with their own language and culture, as a majority for hundreds of years until the Arab conquest in the seventh century. After the Arab conquest, many Copts were either killed or forced to convert to Islam. There has not been a Christian majority in Egypt since. Although it is an ongoing debate within the Coptic community itself, many Copts do not identify as Arab. Historically, they existed as a separate people and were only assimilated into Arab culture in Egypt after the seventh century conquest.  

How are Copts different from other Christians?

All Copts are Christians, but they vary in which denomination they belong to. Copts are most commonly members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, but many others are Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical.  

How large is the Coptic Church?

Estimates of the Coptic population in Egypt vary from around 10-20 million. According to World Atlas, there are 18 million Copts in Egypt and 1,243,000 in the diaspora. The largest number of Copts in the diaspora reside in the US, Kuwait, and Canada. 

How old is the Coptic Church?

Tradition holds that Mark the Apostle brought Christianity to Alexandria, Egypt sometime between 42 and 62 AD. 

Who is in charge of the Coptic Church?

The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the Pope of Alexandria. Currently, Pope Tawadros II holds this position. He was selected as the 118th pope on November 18, 2012.  

How can I learn more about the teachings and theology of the Coptic Church?

Explore our resources including the Coptic one pager, timeline, heroes profiles and other content related to the Coptic Leadership Initiative! Check out our map of Coptic churches in the US and stop by the nearest one near you to engage with the local Coptic community in your own neighborhood! 



Ready to learn more? Explore the resources provided below to dive even deeper.


Coming soon!


Head over to our Events page to view upcoming events centered on Coptic Christians. 

Mideast Briefing Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter that delivers the top stories on the Middle East, Middle Eastern Christians, and more.

Coptic Christians practice faith in peace on Long Island

Long Islanders with ties to Egypt feel grateful — blessed really — that they can practice their unique form of Christianity peacefully, unlike many of their fellow faithful in other parts of the world. Read More

Pope Tawadros II offers Eid al-Adha sentiments to Egypt’s Grand Imam

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb received on Sunday the Pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II, who offered felicitation for the occasion of Eid al-Adha and for the Imam’s return to his homeland following a successful therapeutic trip to Europe....

Pope Tawadros to meet with Gulf Coptic churches’ board members Friday

CAIRO - 2 August 2019: Pope Tawadros II, the Patriarch of Alexandria, is set to hold a meeting on Friday with board members of the Coptic churches in the Arab Gulf states on the sidelines of the conference of the priests of the Arabian Gulf, hosted by the monastery of...

Pi-Lampas hosts seminar on: The Coptic icon throughout the ages

The icons which adorn so many Coptic churches in Egypt and around the world, and which boast features that distinguish them as “Coptic icons”, have behind them a long history that goes hand in hand with the history of Egypt. A recent seminar tackled just that. Read...

Catholic church inaugurated in Menya

CAIRO - 28 July 2019: Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Ishaq inaugurated on Sunday Mar Gerges Church in Menya’s Nagaa al-Dek in the attendance of Ambassador of the Holy See Bruno Musaro, Menya Bishop Botros Fahim, and Sohag Bishop Basileous. Read More

Egyptian cave church adorned in Biblical arts

A long and arduous task which took this Polish artist more than two decades to carve. “Saint Simon encouraged me to do the sculpture work. I never thought I’d have talent and it’s not something I planned. It wasn’t even related to my studies or my work. I think God...

Egypt- Pope leads mass to mark 1st death anniversary of bishop Epiphanius

(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria on Monday led a Mass to commemorate the first death anniversary of bishop Epiphanius of St. Macarius Monastery who was killed on 29 July 2018. Read More

Egypt’s minister of culture inaugurates 3rd book fair of Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria

Egypt's Minister of Culture Inas Abdel-Dayem, along with Father Abram Emile, Deputy of the Pope Tawadros II and Deputy Patriarch of Alexandria inaugurated on Tuesday the Third Book Fair of Saint Mark's Church in Alexandria, which will last until 10 August. Read More

Coptic Church requests body of Ghanaian beheaded by Daesh in Libya in 2015

The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt has officially requested of the Libyan Embassy in Cairo that the body of the Ghanaian Matthew Ayariga should be shipped to Egypt, to be placed in the shrine built for the “Libya Martyrs” in the village of al-Our in Samalout, Minya,...

British Airways Suspends Flights to Cairo over Security Risks

A long and arduous task which took this Polish artist more than two decades to carve. “Saint Simon encouraged me to do the sculpture work. I never thought I’d have talent and it’s not something I planned. It wasn’t even related to my studies or my work. I think God...