The Achievements of H.E. Metropolitan Serapion

Over the last 20 years, His Eminence has worked tirelessly in the spiritual formation of the Metropolis of Los Angeles, now a model diocese in the English-speaking world. Axios!

The Achievements of H.E. Metropolitan Serapion

His Eminence has spoken out several times against heterodox praxis:

The clergy of the Metropolis have also spoken out: http://returntoorthodoxy.com/coptic-experience-los-angeles/

His Eminence has also taken a number of positive actions to promote Orthodox spirituality within the Metropolis:

1. The establishment of female Ecclesiastical Choirs.
“From the beginning of my service in Los Angeles, I noticed that church choirs, as a service, were made up primarily of females who focused on singing Western [heterodox] songs, avoiding learning Coptic hymns as families paid more attention to their sons who were ordained as Psaltos (Chanters) in the Church. This affected the psychology of many girls who were in a sensitive age.
Thus, the idea of the Ecclesiastical Choir developed with the following goals:

  • Encouraging girls and female youth to learn, memorize and chant the hymns of the Church
  • Encouraging girls and female youth to attend Church services early and participate with the rest of the congregation in praise and the recitation of congregational responses
  • Encourage girls and female youth to dress appropriately in a special uniform that conforms to the ethics and spirit of the Church. Thus, ecclesiastical choir members cover their heads and wear white (symbolizing purity and holiness) and red (symbolizing the Holy Cross and the work of our Lord’s gift of salvation in our lives)”

- H.E. Metropolitan Serapion, http://lacopts.org/story/on-the-ecclesiastical-choir/

2. The establishment of American Coptic Orthodox “mission” parishes with strict adherence to Orthopraxy, while still implementing creative means of inculturation, e.g. chanting the Byzantine hymn Agni Parthene (O Virgin Pure) during the Distribution of the Holy Mysteries (https://www.youtube.com/user/stpaulochymns/videos).

“In one of the American “style” parishes, there was a disagreement about whether to get together and sing Evangelical songs in addition to the Liturgy. Did they argue until one side one [sic] and they became divided? No. Did they just pick one or the other for the sake of unity? No, clearly one answer is right. They asked their bishop to arbitrate their dispute. H.G. did not simply impose a decision. He asked each side to explain to him why they feel the way they do. After carefully listening to them and making sure he understood exactly what they were asking for, without quickly jumping to assumptions about what they wanted, H.G. answered them. He said that there are not two kinds of worship, each meeting different people’s needs. Orthodox worship is the Liturgy, and heterodox worship is a lie, an attempt by the evil one to distract people from the true worship in spirit and truth. H.G. did not allow the meetings to sing evangelical songs. Because H.G. is a wise pastor, everyone felt heard, considered, and respected. Because the group chose to submit to H.G. rather than striving for their own will, they remained united, and moved forward towards establishing Orthodoxy here.”
- A second-hand account of the establishment of “mission” parishes in Los Angeles by H.E. Metropolitan Serapion, http://returntoorthodoxy.com/bishop-youssef-coptic-orthodoxy-americans/

3. Pan-Orthodox spiritual days with strict adherence to Orthopraxy. When we gather with our Oriental and Eastern Orthodox brethren, the absence of a common rite may often tempt us to utilise Evangelical Protestant “praise and worship”.

Not so in the Metropolis of Los Angeles:
“The Sixth Annual Orthodox Day of Praise… With the permission of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Southern California and Hawaii, led by His Grace Bishop Serapion, this annual event brings together the various Orthodox churches from all over Southern California to present praises and hymns in many of their ancient languages and traditions.
The purpose of this gathering is sharing and uniting the Christian Orthodox Faith, celebrating, and praising God through singing. The event includes different Orthodox choir groups such as Armenian, Syrian, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Ethiopian, Indian, Antochian and many other churches who present songs and hymns from their traditions.”

http://lacopts.org/news/orthodox-day-of-praise-saturday-may-18/

4. Mandatory theological training for all servants.
His Eminence has always emphasised the importance of theological education. There is high theological literacy among the clergy of Los Angeles – the fruit of His Eminence’s 20 years of service in the Metropolis, where at least 10 clergy hold graduate-level theological qualifications. Now, Los Angeles is the first diocese beginning to enforce strict theological standards on all servants:
“St. Athanasius and St. Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School joyfully announces the launch of the Servants Preparation Program for the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii. This program is designed to provide existing and future servants of the Diocese with basic knowledge and fundamental building blocks for service.
This program consists of 10 courses that can be taken between 6 months and 2 years…
The total list of courses is as follows

  1. Old Testament I
  2. New Testament I
  3. Liturgical Studies I
  4. Patristics I
  5. Church History I
  6. Dogmatic Theology I
  7. Apologetics I
  8. Counseling or Youth Ministry
  9. Coptic Language
  10. Orthodox Spirituality

The above are survey courses intended to provide an overview of each subject matter. Consequently, students should not assume that higher level courses (e.g., Patristics II, Church History III) will meet this purpose.
Upon completion of the 10 courses, students will then sit for a comprehensive examination, which will be offered at least once per year.
Taking the courses and passing the examination does not guarantee the right to serve in any parish, but allows them to meet the minimum requirements to serve. This program is not intended to replace the current servants’ preparation programs in the various parishes of the Diocese, but to supplement them with the fundamental knowledge required for service. Servants also will need several hours of training and discipleship from experienced servants in each parish.
By the year 2020, all those serving in each parish church will be required to have passed this examination.”
http://actslibrary.org/blog/acts-launches-servants-preparation-program/