The first meeting of the United Council for Egyptian Churches was held on Monday in Cairo between Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and representatives of Egypt's Episcopal, Evangelical, Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.
The council is mandated with coordinating between Egypt's churches, promoting unity between the followers of the Christian faith in Egypt and promoting Muslim-Christian dialogue. The council was officially launched on 9 February at the Evangelical Church in Cairo's Faggala district.
According to Coptic-Orthodox Bishop Bishoy, the council is the brainchild of late Coptic Pope Shenouda III, who had stressed the importance of "dialogue as called for by the Bible."
Monday's meeting, which took place at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo's Abbasiya district, was closed to journalists and media personnel, with the exception of some from Egypt's Coptic media.
According to Copts United, a news website devoted to the affairs of Egypt's Christian community, the church officials who attended the meeting voiced optimism as to the council's mandate, adding that they expected to face obstacles – which they planned to overcome – based on their differences.
Leadership of the council will rotate between the heads of the five churches, with the first term being headed by Coptic-Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.
Attendees at Monday's meeting also discussed means of finalising a draft of council bylaws.
Coptic-Christians in Egypt are estimated at around 5.13 million by official statistics agency CAPMAS. Coptic Church officials, for their part, say the number is between 15 and 18 million.