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Happy New Year - John Charmley - 03-01-2007

Dear Fellowship Members,

It will be the Feast of the Nativity on 7 January, but I hope that it is in order to wish you all a happy new year, since on the civil calendar it is now 2007!

I hope that for all of us it will be a time for spiritual growth.

In Christ,


- Michael Kennedy - 04-01-2007

Happy New Year John, and to everyone else in the Fellowship.
And just a note to say that the British Orthodox Church, by special dispensation of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, keeps the Feast of the Nativity on 25th December along with the majority of Christians in the West, and with the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greeks call this the 'new calendar' and I think they have followed it since the 1920s.
The British Orthodox Church keeps Great Lent and Pascha in line with the Coptic Orthodox calendar but everything else as in the West. It can be confusing and I usually ask Peter Farrington to put me right!
I too hope that 2007 will be a time of spiritual growth for us all and mark a continuing growth in our church.

The Feast of the Nativity - John Charmley - 04-01-2007

Dear Michael,

Given the rifts that the calendar issue has caused elsewhere, it seems to be a sign of the spiritual maturity of the Copts that Pope Shenouda has taken such a view and granted such a dispensation.

No disrespect to any other Orthodox Church, but His Holiness' attitude seems worlds apart from the narrow view so often taken elsewhere. Some of the material I have read on this issue on Eastern Orthodox sites seems very unChristian in its high-handed denunciation of others.

I wonder how far the Coptic attitude stems from never having been an Imperial Church, and therefore never succumbing to the temptations of power?

In Christ,


- Michael Kennedy - 05-01-2007

Dear John,
Yes, I think there is something in this and I am sure it explains a lot else about the Coptic Orthodox Church, for example the fact that they can be creative enough to recognise the Orthodoxy and historical authenticity of the former OCBI and welcome it into Patriarchate. And of course the fact that we are able to use the Liturgy of St James rather than the Coptic Liturgy of St Basil. Churches with an Imperial or simply establishment past might find such radical moves difficult to contemplate.
I wrote earlier that 'everything else (on the calendar) is as in the West' but in fact it is slightly more complicated than that, although I couldn't begin to explain it. But the fact remains that we are able to be fully part of the COC while retaining certain key cultural aspects, thus making us more effective in our mission to British people.

British and Orthodox - John Charmley - 05-01-2007

Dear Michael,

Thank you for this. Elsewhere Peter and I have been taking part in a discussion about Orthodoxy and (for want of a better word) ethnicity. Many Eastern Orthodox seem slightly 'off' even about the idea of having a Western Rite service, which has, after all been approved by the Moscow Patriarchy.

I quite understand, especially in places like America , where Orthodoxy and the diaspora culture are so intertwined, why there should be such an attachment to the liturgy in old Church Slavonic or old Greek, but by the same token, if Orthodoxy is to reestablish itself in this country amongst a large number of people, it is simply going to have to be in English - or not at all.

The Apostles decided all if this, after all, back in Acts 15 at the Council of Jerusalem, when St. Paul's views won the day.

I very much appreciate the way in which the Copts have been so eirenic and so willing to see the needs of mission in this country. Let us hope that 2007 sees further advances for this ancient, and successful, method.

In Christ,