Services in Singapore for Copts started in 2002

Father Jonathan Ishak flew in from Australia to lead the Singapore Coptic community in prayer during their Easter service at the Armenian Church.
Father Jonathan Ishak flew in from Australia to lead the Singapore Coptic community in prayer during their Easter service at the Armenian Church.ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

The Copts, or Egyptian Christians, usually gather once a month for services at the Armenian Church in Hill Street. Their group, comprising about 10 to 15 expatriate families who hail from the fields of medicine, IT, oil and shipping, is a small one and always in flux since they are not based in Singapore for long.

There were no services in Singapore for the Copts until 2002, when the late Egyptian Pope Shenouda the Third decreed that the Coptic Church in Singapore come under the jurisdiction of the Coptic diocese in Australia. It meant the establishment of structured services here, where a priest from Australia flies in to conduct services on the first weekend of each month at the Armenian Church here. A nominal rent is paid for the premises.

This Easter, Father Jonathan Ishak flew in from Australia and performed a short re-enactment of Christ's resurrection. Lights dimmed, a deacon, acting as Jesus, knocked on the door. The priest asked who it was and the deacon answered: "Christ."

This was followed by joyful hymns celebrating Jesus' resurrection. A deacon is one of the orders of clergy assisting in the service. Church representative Sami Aziz, 63, an engineer and banker who has been based here since 1998, said: "Coptic Christianity is old and traditional and Easter is the crux of the religion so we are very elaborate in our services."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2016, with the headline 'Services in S'pore for Copts started in 2002'. Print Edition | Subscribe