Purposes of the Writing Competition

The purposes of the competition are to promote greater interest in the writings and of the Fathers generally, and to encourage individual exploration and scholarship within writings of the Fathers. The ultimate hope of His Eminence Metropolitan Serapion, and of this competition, is that individuals will devote their lives to learning the Fathers for the benefit of God’s kingdom and the Coptic Orthodox Church.


Students may then focus on any one of the following prompts:

Prompt 1: On a hot summer afternoon, your doorbell rang, you opened to see two pleasant individuals who introduced themselves as members of the church of Jehovah. They expressed their belief in the Lord Christ as “not equal to the Father, but rather: God’s creation.” Caught by surprise and recognizing that you are speaking to members of a cult, you recited the words of the Creed “Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True, Begotten not created, of One Essence with the Father.” They were not convinced because they claimed, the Creed is not “scripture.” You felt frustrated and decided to look for a comprehensive answer after they left. You were told by your father of confession to read The First Discourse Against the Arians by St. Athanasius found in https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/28161.htm. Considering time, honor, nature, and subordination as the main elements of orthodoxy vs. cult in regards to our belief in the Lord, articulate parallels between this cult and Arianism. Furthermore, in the spirit of love and truth articulate an answer to these two individuals or others that you might come across. (This can not be simply quotations but after absorbing the material write your comprehensive reply.)

Prompt 2: On your college campus, you were stopped by two pleasant individuals who handed you a small publication from their church. As you read through it, you felt uncomfortable by their belief in the Holy Spirit. After leaving them, the words of the Creed: “Who [The Holy Spirit] is with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified” were sounding in your mind. You decided to look for a comprehensive answer to what we believe in as Orthodox in regards to the Holy Spirit. You were told by your father of confession to read The Letter to Serapion By St. Athanasius found https://www.amazon.com/Serapion-Holy-Spirit-Saint-Athanasius/dp/149742433X and in other publications (some are free). After reading it, you decided to present it to your youth group. The priest in the church asked you to write your comprehensive understanding of the church’s faith in the Holy Spirit from the Creed and the writing of St. Athanasius before presenting it. (This can not be simply quotations but after absorbing the material write your comprehensive reply.)

Prompt 3: Anyone who reads the book of Exodus is overwhelmed by the love and the care of God to His people and saints. St. John Chrysostom himself during his exile in the mountains of Armenia, and shortly before his departure was overwhelmed by the providence of God, he wrote his thoughts on the topic and currently published in https://www.amazon.com/Providence-God-St-John-Chrysostom/dp/1887904549/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=on+the+providence+of+God&qid=1625153724&sr=8-2 After reading these beautiful contemplations, write your own thoughts on the subject of God’s providence from the book of Exodus, the writings of St. John Chrysostom, and the events taking place in your life during the last year.

Categories and Requirements

The competition is limited to participants competing at the High School or College level in the Youth Spiritual Competition.

Participants should submit one essay, 5-7 pages in length single-spaced (or 10-12 pages in length double-spaced), including footnotes or endnotes, using twelve-point font (Times New Roman) and one-inch margins. Footnotes should be in ten-point type. Footnotes and citations should be according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) formation.


Besides using the material posted on the YSC, youth are encouraged to seek out resources that are sound in Orthodoxy and in line with the Coptic Orthodox faith. Prizes will be awarded on the basis of your synthesis of information and creativity.


Winners will be awarded $500 towards a certificate course at St. Athanasius and St. Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School (ACTS). The name of the winner(s) in each category will be posted online on the YSC website.


The competition is open to all participants of high school or undergraduate age (freshman in high school through age 25). College graduates 25 years of age or under may still participate in the College team. A participant does not need to be competing in the YSC Competition in order to submit an entry for the Writing Competition.

Entry information

Entries for the competition must be submitted by July 26, 2020 via email to the YSC Committee at info@ysc-keraza.org. Winners will be notified at the YSC Competition.

The contestant’s name and other identifying markings such as school name or church name are not to be on any copy of the submitted entry. Entries must be accompanied by a separate piece of paper listing the individual’s name, contact information, Father of Confession, and church parish. An individual working for the competition will assign a random number to each entry and will record this number on all copies of each submission. The contestant’s identity, and church will not be known to any of the Competition judges. One copy of the entry must be submitted in Word Perfect or Word format. Each entrant may submit only one entry.


Each entry shall be the original work of a single individual. Jointly authored submissions are not eligible. Submissions previously submitted for ACTS course credit, or submissions of a significantly similar paper submitted for ACTS course credit are not eligible.

Essay Submissions: The author must perform all the key tasks of reading the required text, selecting the topic, researching it, analyzing it, formulating positions and arguments, and writing and revising the paper for himself or herself. The author may inform another of the progress he or she has made in performing these tasks and accept a reasonable amount of responsive advice from academicians or theologians in the field, but the author must avoid collaboration with others altogether. The final product should reflect the author’s own ideas and work and not those of others.

Criteria and Judging

All entries will be judged anonymously, under the guidance of His Eminence Metropolitan Serapion, His Grace Bishop Abraham, and His Grace Bishop Kyrillos, The YSC Committee reserves the right not to award any prizes if it is determined that no entries are of sufficient quality to merit selection that year.
Entries will be judged based on the following criteria:

• Originality and creativity of topic treatment;
• Quality of analysis;
• Quality of research and authority provided; and
• Technical quality of writing, including organization, grammar, syntax, and form.