On Friday 4th November Father Simon travelled to Manchester in order to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Saturday 5th November with the Eritrean Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour who currently have no priest and are dependent on visiting clergy so they can enjoy the occasional Liturgy from time to time. And enjoy is very much the right word for this Eritrean congregation who approached the holy communion in such devoutness and celebrated with such joy and enthusiasm. He was supported by Archdeacon Alexander who travelled from Sheffield on the day, assisted also by the Eritrean deacons present. The congregation was almost overwhelming in their expressions of appreciation for the visiting British Orthodox clergy.
Sunday afternoon 6th November saw Father Simon back in Portsmouth for the baptism of Paul Theodore Maties where he was assisted by Subdeacons Edward Smyth and Nicolae Popu and Reader Daniel Malyon. The British Orthodox congregation of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black was swelled by the many family and friends who came to support young Paul and his parents, Oana and Ovidiu, travelling from Scotland, France, Germany, their native Romania and even from as far as the United States. It was good to see such wonderful support for a baptism.
In a brief sermon Father Simon made reference to his Manchester visit the day before explaining how the congregation could not have celebrated the Liturgy without an ordained priest, then recalled the time several years before in Trotton Church one cold January when all the members were sick with flu and he as an ordained priest without a congregation could not celebrate. There must always be a congregation, however small (“where to or three are gathered together”) and the ordained priest has no more authority to celebrate without a congregation than the congregation without an ordained priest. Young Paul Theodore might not yet understand the theology of priesthood but by his baptism and chrismation he had just been incorporated into the priesthood of all believers and when Father Simon next celebrated the Liturgy he would not be celebrating it for Paul but with him, even as with every other Church member present.