Egyptian Festival Returns To Howell

The Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church, located at 7 Church Road in Howell Township, drew a large crowd during their two weekend Egyptian Festival event. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  HOWELL – Food, beverages, conversations and a tour of the church were all part of a festive autumn event held recently at the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church.

  The church once again opened its doors to provide its two weekend long annual Egyptian Festival.

  Admission was free and parishioners of the church invited guests to take a tour of their house of worship. The church, located at 7 Church Road, opened in 2014.

  Large crowds came out during both weekends of the event. On the upper level of the large church building, Egyptian food was available for purchase including shish kabob, kofta, kobelba, baklava, and pastries, plus various beverages such as soft drinks, coffee, and sugar cane juice.

  There were vendor areas present on the upper floor as well as some children’s games. The event showcased the charm of ancient and modern Egypt and also served to educate the public about the Christians of Egypt.

  Among those who provide guided tours of the church was Father Suriel who previously explained to The Howell Times during a tour that the term “Coptic” is derived from the Greek “Aigyptos” meaning Egyptian.

  When the Arabs arrived in Egypt in the seventh century, they called the Egyptians “qibt” thus the Arabic word “qibt” came to mean both Egyptians and Christians. The term “Orthodoxy” refers to the presentation of the “original faith” by the Copts who, throughout the ages, defended the old creed against numerous attacks.

A large crowd congregates to enjoy this year’s Egyptian Festival at the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Howell. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  He noted the first Coptic Church in North America “was in 1968-69 and Father Gabriel came and it was actually in West Side New Jersey. New Jersey has a long history; Coptic Christians didn’t leave Egypt for 2,000 years until Pope Cyril VI started sending people out from Egypt to come to New Jersey and other areas of America and Australia.” He said that pope “reformed the church by one way, just prayer.”

  The church is adorned with various works of art as Coptic Christians gain wisdom and faith from various icons that tell a biblical story.

  Father Suriel said the artwork represents visual reminders of how everyone can recall their own personal failings and learn from them to become a better person. The church has a large youth group and he noted it was the role of the clergy to visit the members of their congregation who often call upon them for advice and support.

  The church has a special baptismal room, a separate chapel area from the church for smaller services. He said regular church services are done in English and Arabic depending on the audience and are translated through captioning on their video screens.

Members of the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church serve up some food to attendees of this year’s Egyptian Festival. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Another area of the church features a library of books concerning Coptic Christian history and text. Father Suriel said that in the church, the priesthood is not something that is sought but is something that comes to them. “I had to be asked by either a bishop or a priest to be ordained and I would have to say okay to it and they have to also ask my wife for her approval. I am married and have two kids.”

  He said being married and having a family is helpful “as we advise and sit with families and children and are asked to give advice from practical experience from our own lives.”

  For more information about the church visit