Rachel Loewen

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies


Ellen Badone




In 1965, the first Coptic Orthodox church in Canada was established in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) by Abuna Marcos, the first Coptic priest sent to minister to the Coptic diaspora in North America. Until the 1980s, the Coptic community in the GT A concentrated on the needs of the new immigrants arriving from Egypt. At present, however, the Coptic Church has had to re-ascertain its position in the Coptic community and Canadian society. The needs and desires of the second generation are now focused upon.

This thesis examines the adaptations made by the Coptic community in the GT A as it faces the issues of language and intermarriage. Strategies of adaptation include the process of separating the community's Egyptian or ethnic identity from its religious identity and the construction of authenticity through reference to the community's Pharaonic heritage, apostolic foundation and the history of the Council of Chalcedon. Until recently, the Coptic Church did mission work only in Africa. However, with the founding of the first missionizing Coptic church in North America, located in the GTA, the Church is taking on a new adaptive strategy: missionization. Through outreach to non-Copts and non-Egyptian converts, the Coptic Orthodox Church is ensuring its survival in the diaspora.

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