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Creative Coptic Religious Leadership: The Strategies of Mother Irini
While religious leadership differs from other forms of leadership such as in the world of business and not-for-profit organisations (NGO’s), there is much overlap. For example, in religious as well as in non-religious settings, the most successful leaders are creative innovators who apply new strategies to get their message across, make it visible, and energize those working with them. In this presentation, I analyse some of the methods introduced by Mother Irini, the famous abbess of the Abu Saifein convent (d. 2006) who inspired the renewal of the monastic life for Coptic women. Nowadays, the new and innovative models of governance she introduced continue to be applied across the Coptic Church.
Nelly van Doorn-Harder is professor of Religious Studies at Wake Forest University, NC. She has produced numerous articles and books about the contemporary Coptic Church that focus, among others, on issues of gender, leadership, spirituality, and freedom of religion. Her latest book is the edited volume Copts in Context: Negotiating Identity, Tradition, and Modernity. (2017) Some of her other publications are: The Egyptian Church and Its Leadership from the Ottoman Period to the Present: The Modern Coptic Papacy (1798–2010) (2011, with Magdi Guirguis), Between Desert and City. The Coptic Orthodox Church Today (1997 & 2004), and Contemporary Coptic Nuns (1995). Apart from studying the Copts of Egypt, she has studied and published widely about Islam in Southeast Asia. One of her books in that area is Women Shaping Islam. Indonesian Muslim Women Reading the Qur’an (2006).