Almost exactly ten years on from his first historic visit there as Prince of Wales, King Charles returned to the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage this week. Over six hundred guests from the House of Lords and House of Commons, the Diplomatic Corps, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, humanitarian, and advocacy organisations, as well as ecumenical and interreligious guests, joined members of the UK’s Coptic Orthodox clergy and community.
His Majesty was introduced to The High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Liz Green, as well as the Mayor of Stevenage, Cllr. Myla Arceno, and other civic dignitaries, as well as faith leaders. He met volunteers from the Church's youth, advocacy and benevolent ministries, who presented the various services offered by the church in alignment with His Majesty’s Coronation pledge ‘to serve’.
Archbishop Angaelos, the leader of the UK’s 40,000 Coptic Orthodox Christians, presented King Charles with a fragment of stone from the Coptic Orthodox Altar in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which is believed to be at the site of Jesus’ empty tomb. He explained its significance in Christian history, and shared the universal message of hope and resurrection.
His Majesty spoke of his joy at returning to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after ten years, and concluded by wishing everyone a blessed Christmas.
Commenting on the visit, Archbishop Angaelos said:
“It was a true joy to welcome His Majesty back to our Centre and Cathedral during his Coronation Year. The response which we received from our community to attend a midweek morning service was overwhelming, and the genuine love and enthusiasm expressed was heartening. Seeing His Majesty move among the people and engage with them with such warmth and sincerity speaks to his commitment to being the servant King. He touched and left a lasting impression on the hearts of so many individuals and families within our community.
“We are very thankful to His Majesty for his visit, his time and genuine sincerity and warmth, and we pray a blessing upon him, the Nation and the Commonwealth and the world during this Advent period, which is a period of hope amidst many global challenges that are affecting so many at this time.”