Coptic Church of the Annunciation: Behold, the burden of Egypt, the Lord rides upon a swift cloud, He shall come to Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence. In that day there shall be an altar to the lord in the midst of the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 19:1)
Dress modestly. Speak quietly and reverently.
The Coptic Church of the Annunciation is found down the main street of Nazareth near the Greek Orthodox Annunciation Church and Mary’s Well. Traveling down this simple street in the market section of “old” Nazareth will yield the eye-catching bright orange or red dome and two steeples topped with pyramid like shapes. Uniquely Egyptian in appearance, this site is quite a find among the other churches throughout Nazareth.
Next to this one-of-a-kind structure, there are also living courters which house the parish priests. Within the Coptic Church of the Annunciation there is a reception hall. Along one of its walls are paintings of the former Coptic patriarchs, and on the other wall is a brass plate engraved with the image of the White Mosque. Behind the mosque is a large parking lot that was originally intended for a school but will eventually become a gathering place for the local Coptic community.
The Coptic denomination was presumably started when Mark (from the Bible) brought the story of Jesus to Egypt. A Coptic man named Suleiman visited Nazareth in 1840 with an Egyptian military expedition. He then returned a few years later with his family and settled in Nazareth. All three hundred to four hundred of the Coptics living in Nazareth are original descendants of Suleiman and his wife and go by the family name Qupti (Copt).
Suleiman was given Ottoman land by the ruler of Egypt, who at the time also owned much land in Palestine. The family settled there, southeast of Mary’s Well. Eventually, a family quarter emerged. Now this section of Nazareth is known as the Aqbat (Coptic) Quarter.
For years, the Coptic Christians worshiped with the Greek Orthodox or the Greek Catholic churches in town. Then in the 1930s, the Coptic families donated some of the land in the Aqbat Quarter for the building of a church. The building of the Coptic Church of the Annunciation was completed in 1951, and the first service had 300 in attendance! During the inaugural service, the Coptic Archbishop thanked the Israeli government for providing building materials. This was a huge gesture, as Egypt and Israel were enemies at the time.
The Coptic community purchased adjacent land from a Muslim family with intent to build a school. Instead, it is currently being used as a parking lot, but will later become a community center to further solidify the Coptic community in Nazareth. With its distinctively Egyptian architecture, the Coptic Church of the Annunciation is a delight to see and will add variety to any Christian’s tour of Nazareth churches.