On Sunday 15 October 2017, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Assiut started implementing strict rules to ensure that members of the congregation enter church decently dressed. The Church had repeatedly issued statements requesting ‘the blessed congregation’, especially women and girls, to don decent clothes during worship and for special occasions such as feast eves and days, or christening and wedding ceremonies. Those in charge of the church had noticed an increase in the number of young men entering churches in shorts or torn jeans, and women wearing revealing clothes during celebrations.
The statement specifically targeted the churches with large congregations, such as the church of Archangel Michael and the church of St Mark. It referred to the Bible verse 1Peter 3:3 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
The Church’s decision was welcomed by the congregation who expressed their approval with applause when Anba Yu’annis, Bishop of Assiut, made the announcement last Tuesday at the church of Archangel Michael during his weekly sermon that was attended by more than 4,000 persons.
The Church scouts and guides, usually the ones in charge of implementing order in churches, have been assigned to organise the entry of congregation into churches. They are to warn worshippers whenever dress codes are not acceptable. In addition, the Church has arranged for short jackets and long skirts to be available at gates for any woman who needs to cover up.
16 October 2017