However, the congregation received city permission to build not only the fellowship hall, which houses the temporary worship hall and offices, but also an education building now under construction and a future church sanctuary, according to Father Bishoy Bastawros, the pastor.
When Bishop Serapion was appointed to head the newly created Southern California diocese, the prelate, who turns 47 next week, headed Pope Shenouda's department for ecumenical and social affairs.
He was an appropriate choice for Southern California, said a Coptic priest in Bellflower at the time. "Most of our leaders are professional people--engineers, architects, physicians--and we needed a bishop that everyone could respect," said Father Bishoy Mikhail. "We couldn't have had a spiritual bumpkin from the hinterlands."
By coming to Los Angeles and being based at St. Mary's Coptic Church in Highland Park, Bishop Serapion--who like other bishops in the Orthodox tradition must remain unmarried--was also reunited with four siblings.
Three of his brothers live in the San Fernando Valley and another in Huntington Beach.
While conceding the attraction of being near his family, he quipped that he really has many more brothers than that. "For a monk, all people are brothers and sisters," he said.