Today at Abbasiya Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt a new patriarch was chosen to lead Egypt’s 8 million strong Coptic Orthodox Christians.
Three finalists were selected earlier in the year: Father Raphael Ava Mina, Bishop Tawadros, and Bishop Raphael. And while there was consensus on the three finalists the final decision was in the hands of a blindfolded child.
Only not really – because the Coptic Orthodox believe that God is sovereign and the choice is made by him. They leave it in the hands of a child so that their will does not interfere with God’s.
So amid incense and prayers, this blindfolded child walked up to a glass bowl and picked a name. Bishop Tawadros of Beheira was the winner of this unusual lottery.
While this may seem strange to western ears, this process is not random. Weeks ago a committee met and agreed on 17 potential names. This number was reduced to five and ultimately the three above were agreed on as the final candidates. A period of fasting began on Wednesday of this past week in preparation for the service held today.
An article written in Christianity Today earlier this week by Jayson Casper who blogs at A Sense of Belonging said this:
“It is easier to find biblical support for choosing by consensus than by lot,” said Atef al-Gindy, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo. “But I have observed the sincerity and genuine desire of Orthodox leaders to conduct a process that is clean and according to the will of God, seeking his guidance.”
This is an important decision, not just for Copts, but for all minority Christians in Egypt. The rights of minorities are a concern as Egypt continues to work out its politics internally and externally.
As for a child choosing….I like it. In fact, I wonder what it would be like if a child were to choose the November 6 election in the United States?! A Blindfolded child, free of political fray and disillusionment.
I appreciate that the initial process included consensus, that there was fasting and prayer ahead of time, and that there was really not a preference when it came to the final three — all three of them were agreed upon as leaders who could lead with wisdom and Godliness.
So a child chose – and Bishop Tawadros is now the new patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church. May God continue to bless the country of Egypt and may Christians living throughout Egypt have opportunity for freedom and growth.
- Tomorrow, God to Select the Next Coptic Orthodox Pope (asenseofbelonging.org)
- New pope selected (dailynewsegypt.com)