Coptic church in Jersey City building $3.2M community center

The Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark in Jersey City was the first Coptic church in the United States, according to Wikipedia, and the parish of more than 650 families continues to grow with the ongoing construction of a $3.2 million community center.

"With God's grace, the construction of St. Mark Community Center is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of St. Mark Church in Jersey City," said the Rev. Abraam Sleman, St. Mark's pastor, whose congregation is located in a city which is home to the largest Coptic population in the United States.

The three-story community center, which will have a full-size basketball court on the top floor, will be open to the community to participate in church-planned activities and events such as Sunday school after liturgies, Bible study after vespers on Saturday evenings and periodic activities and services which will be announced on the church website at

English as a second language classes for Arabic speakers from Egypt will also be taught at the center located, at West Side and Ege avenues.

It will also feature classrooms for instructional enrichment, conference rooms, and a multipurpose room for large gatherings. Construction of the community center is aimed at providing a facility to enhance both spiritual and social growth, church officials said.

The church purchased several buildings at the community center's site between 1970 and 2004.

On June 8, a groundbreaking ceremony was held and a ribbon cutting was performed by Papal Vicar the Rev. Saraphim El-Soryani, the North American representative of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the 118th and current Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

On June 16, the buildings at the site were demolished to make way for the center.

"St. Mark's Church is now making a huge investment and commitment to the city of Jersey City and Ward B and undertaking the development of their new community center only amplifies their continued commitment to our community," Councilman Khemraj "Chico" Ramchal said.

"Our faith-based communities are an important asset to our neighborhoods in this ever changing world. St. Mark's Church has helped thousands of families and youth over the last 44 years. This jewel of a community center will enhance our southern end of the ward."

St. Mark's was established in 1970 as Coptic Christians fled Egypt to escape religious and political persecution.