Jersey City, New Jersey
The Coptic Orthodox Church was among the last major eastern churches to be established in the United States. Nevertheless America is now home to the largest Coptic Egyptian community in the world outside of Egypt, with the largest cluster located in and around Jersey City, New Jersey. St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Jersey City was the first in the United States and for the last half-century has been the heart of the Coptic community.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest branches of Christianity, with roots dating back to St. Mark the Evangelist in the 1st century. It broke away from the other Catholic Orthodox churchs in the 5th century, acknowledging their own bishop in Alexandria as Pope. The Coptic Orthodox Church, which is in communion with several other churches in Asia, is the largest church in the Middle East and continues to maintain their papacy in Egypt.
During the late 1940s, as the European empires were forced to withdraw from their colonies in the Middle East, persecution of Coptic Christians began to increase. Coptics subsequently began to withdraw from the area, especially Egypt, with most coming to Europe and North America.
The first Coptic church in the New World was established in Toronto in 1964. This became the base from which Coptic Christianity spread to Canada and the United States. A few years later the first parish in the United States was established at Jersey City.
St. Mark’s Church was consecrated in 1970, and it quickly became the spiritual center for the fast growing Coptic community in New Jersey. It was famously visited in 1977 by Shenouda III, the Coptic Pope of Alexandria.
The St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church stands on the site which was once home to a 19th-century Methodist-Episcopoal structure. The new building, completed in the late 1960s, is a combination of traditional Coptic styles and modern architecture. Its twin bell towers give it the appearance more of a small cathedral than a church, and its tan-and-brick coloration makes it a neighborhood standout.
St. Mark’s is located northwest of the old city center of Jersey City, approximately five miles west of Manhattan across the Hudson River. As of this writing no additional visitor information was available. Web: www.saintmark.com (official website).