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Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Coptic Church underwent phases of new development. In 1853, Pope Cyril IV established the first modern Coptic school, including the first Egyptian school for girls. He also founded a printing press, which was the second national press in the country, the first having been established by the government at an earlier date. Pope Cyril IV entertained very friendly relations with other Churches, to the extent that when the Greek patriarch in Egypt had to absent himself for a long time outside the country, he left his Church under the guidance of the Coptic Patriarch.
The Theological College of the School of Alexandria was re established in 1893. It began its new history with five students, one of whom was later to become its dean. Today, it has campuses in Alexandria, Cairo, various dioceses throughout Egypt, New Jersey and Los Angeles, Australia, and now in the United Kingdom, where potential clergymen and other qualified men and women are taught, among other subjects, Christian theology, history, and Coptic language and art.
Today, the Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Church in the Middle East, with about 10 million faithful in Egypt. There is an increasing number in monasteries and convents in the deserts of Egypt, and an increasing number of well-educated young men and women who are consecrating their lives to the ministry as parish priests, monks, nuns, deacons and deaconesses.
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Church comprises over eighty metropolitans and bishops, headed by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. The Coptic Church is an active member of the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, the All Africa Conference of Churches, and many other such bodies in many countries around the world. It was the founding member of the Middle East Council of Churches in 1974.
As head of the oldest Church in Africa, Pope Shenouda was keen to extend the Apostolic Mission of Saint Mark across all Africa. In June 1976, His Holiness ordained Bishop Antonious Markos to commence missionary work among the African tribes in Kenya. Today there are 14 Coptic churches, two monasteries and a vocational center in Kenya, as well as churches in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
Outside Egypt, there are over sixty churches in the United States, as well as two theological colleges and a monastery in California, whilst in Canada, there are fifteen churches. In Europe, there are forty-one churches across eleven countries. There now exist: Saint Anthony's Monastery in Frankfurt, Saint Shenouda s Monastery in Milan, a new monastery in France, a retreat center in Birmingham, and a Church Center and Theological College in Stevenage.
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, being a great ambassador for the Coptic Church, and Christendom in general, is currently president of the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches.
In this same spirit, the Coptic Church is currently engaged in either official or unofficial dialogues with most Christian denominations, continuing its work for unity and the reuniting of the one, holy, universal Church.
* Statistics used in this page are constantly changing due to the growing and expanding nature of the Church and its activities, and thus, the figures used are those available at the time of the compilation of this book.
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