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Coptic Orthodox Church opens doors

Fri, Aug 21st 2015 10:50 am
Volunteers serve food at the 2010 Egyptian Festival hosted by Mary and St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church of the Greater Buffalo area, Wheatfield Street, North Tonawanda. This year's festival will take place Aug. 21 to 23. (Photos by Jill Keppeler)
Volunteers serve food at the 2010 Egyptian Festival hosted by Mary and St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church of the Greater Buffalo area, Wheatfield Street, North Tonawanda. This year's festival will take place Aug. 21 to 23. (Photos by Jill Keppeler)

Seventh annual festival will take place this weekend

It started as a way to welcome the surrounding community and educate the public on the history and traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Today, the Egyptian Festival presented by Mary and St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church of the Greater Buffalo area will mark its seventh year of food, tours, art and steady growth. The festival was moved from September to August this year to take advantage of summer weather and in honor of one of the feasts of St. Mary on Aug. 22.

"Time flies," said Father Mark Iskander, who leads the church in North Tonawanda. "It has grown over the years. More people from our church are getting involved. ... We have a fantastic group who works to get it together."

One popular feature of the festival is food, including such items as falafel, shawarma, stuffed grape leaves, pastries and more items.

"We always like to add more items on the food menu," Iskander said. "We try to expand the gifts corner, add more stuff for the kids."

The festival also features art and Christian gifts and children's activities. Tours of the church, a former Protestant church that is nearly 100 years old, will take place. They're also meant to give visitors an "idea of how the Coptic church started and who we are," Iskander said, "who are the Copts."

The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. St. Mark first came to preach Christianity in Egypt in the year 60 A.D. Coptic is the Greek name for Egypt.

St. Mary and St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church took over the building in 2003. Iskander said the festival, once planned as a way to get to know the neighbors, has become a popular feature for the neighborhood.

"Every year they ask us if we can do it twice a year instead of once a year," he said.

WHEN & WHERE

The seventh annual festival will take place Aug. 21-23 at St. Mary and St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church of the Greater Buffalo area, 350 Wheatfield St., North Tonawanda. Hours will be 4 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 21, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 22 and noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 23. For more information, call 716-515-8399 or visit www.stmarystmoses.com.

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