Some background on the BOC - Printable Version
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Some background on the BOC - Paul Harrison - 18-09-2006 09:29 PM
I have a question about the current staus of the BOC. How many members do you currently have? You have explained that you are full members of the Coptic Orthodox Church and that Abba Seraphim holds a position as a full Metropolitan within the church. I notice from the internet that the Coptic Orthodox Church itself has a presence here in the UK. Is there much contact and liaison between yourselves and them?
I realise that their ministry is probably primarily to ex-patriate Egyptian and other Arab Christians wheras yours is to hearken back to the Orthodox roots of British Christianity, but as members of the same church I would presume you are in quite regular contact. The beautiful place they have near Stevenage would seem an ideal setting for team building and conferences.
- admin - 19-09-2006 10:25 AM
We have good relations with the Coptic Orthodox churches here in the UK, and with the other Oriental Orthodox churches, because there are representatives of all of the churches here as well. Indeed in my own church at Chatham we have a Syrian English convert, and some Indian Orthodox.
The centre at Stevenage is very impressive and Abba Seraphim, some of our clergy, and other Fellowship members were able to be there a weekend or two ago for that event. When the Coptic church at Margate was consecrated by Pope Shenouda I was there with my priest and some of our people.
In fact whenever Pope Shenouda comes to England and holds a clergy conference all of the clergy of the British Orthodox Church are expected to attend, as clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
I have been discussing with a young Copt the possibility of setting up a British Orthodox mission in the town where he lives. He is keen to work with us to be doing mission among British people in our own way of working.
I am sure the contacts could be better, but they will get better when we are ourselves a larger Church. At the moment we are a couple of hundred members and adherents. But we are working to plant at least two new communities every year and we are seeing this happening, so I am sure that as we grow we will be able to do more.
For myself, I am a subdeacon at Chatham and I have a priest, Father Michael, and a fellow subdeacon. We have about 12 people regularly each week, with another 6 or 8 people that come once or twice a month. At Easter we are full to capacity with other friends and family. If my fellow subdeacon is away on holiday then I need to make sure I am available every Sunday to serve with my priest, so it is hard to visit other communities. Indeed now I am working so much with the Fellowship I will be out and about supporting Fellowship groups, so I will have even less time to visit other Oriental Orthodox communities.
But just yesterday I was at Minster at a Roman Catholic - Oriental Orthodox conference and Archbishop Yohannes of the Syrian Orthodox was there. I greeted him and he remembered me from a conference in Sweden last year, and he immediately asked after Abba Seraphim, and I ended up giving him Abba Seraphim's mobile number so he could call him.
Likewise Abba Seraphim and the British Orthodox have warm relations with the Eritrean Orthodox community in Camberwell and Abba Seraphim, clergy and lay folk often attend the liturgy there for feasts, indeed Abba Seraphim is sometimes asked by the Eritrean bishops, who are not resident in Britain, to perform some episcopal function.
Sometimes some of our clergy celebrated the liturgy at Kirkcaldy in Scotland when they were without a priest, and one of our priests has the Coptic bishop +Angaelos as his father of confession. In fact in the Doncaster area there are both British Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox communities and these seem to support each other.
So I guess the relationships are good, but when everyone is busy it is hard to stop what you are busy doing and go and visit other folk.
There is an Oriental Orthodox Council of Churches, which of course Abba Seraphim is a member of, and I think that in the future that could be organised to do more in the way of practical expressions of unity among all Oriental Orthodox.
Does this help?
BOC and Copts - John Charmley - 20-09-2006 08:01 PM
Having been fortunate enough to have been at the opening of the Cathedral of St. George, I was struck by the good relations between the BOC and the Copts. The latter seem genuinely pleased that we wish to share the Faith they have so bravely guarded. There is none of the ethnic exclusivity I have encountered with some Eastern Orthodox.
When I contacted the Coptic Chaplain at my university to tell him that Abba Seraphim was coming locally to give a talk, he simply asked me for the details and said that he and his congregation were interested in coming.
It may be that this is a rose-tinted view, but I can only speak as I find, and that is as described.