- Press Release on the union of Coptic and British Orthodox Churches
- On the Trail of Seven Coptic Monks in Ireland
- With Lynch to Holy Etchmiadzin
- The Coptic Orthodox Church under Islam
- Journey Into Artsakh
- Biographies of former BOC members
- The British Orthodox Church – Mission & Ministry
- The Fraction in The Coptic Orthodox Liturgy
- The Ministry of the Deacon in the Liturgy of Saint James
- The Divine Liturgy of Saint James
- An Introduction to the Liturgy of Saint James
- That They May be One – 3:2 St. Timothy Aelurus of Alexandria
- That They May be One – 3:1 St. Timothy Aelurus of Alexandria
- That They May be One – 2. The Humanity of Christ
- That They May Be One – 1. Reflections on Christian Unity
- New Age or Old Faith
- One Lord, One Faith: Why Orthodox don’t practice Open Communion
- Pope Shenoudas El Kosheh Declaration
- Christian Spirituality in a Changing World
- The Saints – Pattern of Christian Virtue
- Reconstructing Celtic Spirituality: Searching for a Western Early Church
NEWS FROM THE BRITISH ORTHODOX CHURCH
On 24 December, 2006 at St. Alban’s Church, Chatham, Callum Peter FARRINGTON was blessed as an Epsaltos at the hands of Abba Seraphim.
On 24 December, 2006 at St. Alban’s Church, Chatham, Don IDICULLA was blessed as an Epsaltos at the hands of Abba Seraphim.
Father Simon visits Brooklyn Shrine
During his recent family visit to the United States of America, Father Simon was able to visit the St. George’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Astoria, Brooklyn, New York and to venerate and receive the blessings of a miraculous icon of Saint Mary, Ever-Virgin and Mother of God. In 1994 holy oil miraculously flowed forth from this icon and Father Simon was given some of this oil by Father Luke Awad, one of the Coptic Orthodox priests there and has brought this back for the blessing of the British Orthodox faithful. During his visit to the Church, Father Simon was made extremely welcome by Father Luke and by all the people and was asked to pray the Evening Incense with them. Father Luke gave him his hand cross as a gift in memory of this wonderful occasion. Afterwards rather than allow him to get a cab back to Manhattan to rejoin his family, Father Luke had three of the young Coptic men drive Father Simon back. The kindness of both priest and people was overwhelming and fellowship with them was a joy and delight. Father Simon has given the holy oil to Abba Seraphim and it is to be divided among the British Orthodox priests so they may bless the people with it.
Abba Seraphim at Babingley
Abba Seraphim was the celebrant at St. Felix Church at Babingley on 11 February when he also baptised and chrismated John Charmley and committed him to the pastorship of that parish. Among those present was Subdeacon Peter Farrington with his son, Callum, from St. Alban’s British Orthodox Parish at Chatham. It was through John’s active membership of the British Orthodox Fellowship, of which Peter is the secretary, that he was brought led to make a commitment to Orthodoxy. Professor John Charmley is the Dean of the School of History at the University of East Anglia.
Abba Seraphim returns to Sweden
At the invitation of both the Coptic Orthodox Church in Stockholm and the ‘Desert Mass’ movement in the Swedish Church, Abba Seraphim visited Sweden 14-21 April. On 14 April he offered Evening Incense and preached on the call of the Apostle Peter before assisting Abuna Bachomios Demetry conduct a marriage. The next morning he baptised the six-month old Cyrillos Zuher Dib, celebrated the Liturgy at St. Mary & St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Midsommerkransen and preached on the Resurrection. On 16 April he travel led to Söädertalje where he was interviewed by Syroro Syriac TV for two programmes “Searchlight” and “Bread of Life” and met
with some of the Syriac Youth having care of the bookshop and library. In the evening he dined with the family of Benjamin Aktas, and met his new wife, Shareen. During the week he made a number of pastoral visits to members of the congregation. On 17 April, accompanied by Father Gunnar Lind, he lunched with Michael Ellnemyr and visited the offices of the Christian Council of Sweden (Sveriges Kristna Rad), where he held conversations with Father Misha Jaksic, the Orthodox Co-ordinator and the Rev. Sven-
Bernhard Fast, the General Secretary. On 18 April accompanied by Father Gunnar he visited Nya Slottel at Bjärka Säby, an eighteenth-century castle south of Linköping in Sweden. The castle is owned by the pentecostal congregation Sionförsamlingen in Linköping. They were received by Peter Halldorf and Abba Seraphim spoke on Holy Tradition before attending a Communion Service in the Upper Room of the castle, which took considerable inspiration from the Coptic Liturgy. Staying overnight at the castle, Abba Seraphim and Fr. Gunnar returned to Stockholm via Linkoping and Strängnäs Cathedrals. As in previous years he attended a celebration of the Desert Mass in the Svenska Kyrkan Högalids Församling in Stockholm where he gave a short talk on the “Ethos of Worship” before travelling for a short Retreat at the Marielund House on the island of Ekerö.
First Oriental Orthodox Festival
The first of what is likely to become an annual celebration of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the United Kingdom took place at St. George’s Cathedral, Stevenage, on 28 April 2007. The focus of the day was the celebration of the Divine Liturgy which was concelebrated by representatives of all the Oriental Orthodox Churches and combined traditional chants of all traditions in a great variety of the languages, although English was the principal one used. The Ethiopian liturgical dance and Paschal chants were a special delight. This was followed by a communal lunch featuring traditional dishes of all the member churches (the British Orthodox included Melton Mowbray pork pies followed by strawberries & cream !) In the afternoon Abba Seraphim gave a talk, “The Importance and Contribution of the Oriental Orthodox Churches today” which is available as a 35 page booklet from the British Orthodox Press.
The ‘Metromobile’ takes to the road
In order to facilitate Abba Seraphim’s ministry, especially to Norfolk, the church bought a Toyota Corolla automatic car at the end of April. Although Heathwood Gardens is normally a peaceful residential road, an arson attack on a car parked next to the Church car resulted in serious damage after only three months. However this was soon replaced with an almost identical Toyota Corolla. To ease the burden on Abba Seraphim, Trevor Maskery has proved an invaluable chauffeur.
New Central London venue inaugurated
On 13 May, Abba Seraphim celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. Mary-on-Paddington Green to mark the inauguration of a new Central London venue for the British Orthodox Church. Through the kind hospitality of the clergy at St. Mary’s, Orthodox worship will now be held one Sunday each month at 11.30 a.m. Services will continue at St. Thomas’ Church in Old Charlton on a different Sunday.
Service details will be posted in advance on http://www.britishorthodox.org/ and for Charlton at http://www.britishorthodox.org/ The present church dates from 1791.
Pilgrimage to Egypt
Abba Seraphim led an ecumenical group on Pilgrimage to Egypt for his thirty-first visit. These were Father Simon Smyth, Sister Deena (an Indian Orthodox nun currently living in Belfast), Father John Whooley (Catholic Priest at Shepherd’s Bush), Father Deacon Richard and Dr. Carol Downer (Greek Melkite), Robin Westwood (Cheltenham), Daniel Heale (archaeologist) and Viscountess Coke. Arriving in Cairo on Monday, 21 May they were met by Ibrahim (their regular driver) and Shenouda Mamdouh & his wife, Mary. That evening they dined together at St. Mark’s Church Centre in Nasr City.
The following day (22 May) they were joined by Father Arsanious Amba Boula and drove from Cairo to St. Anthony’s Monastery on the Red Sea in the Eastern Desert. They visited the monastery and admired the restored paintings before driving to nearby St. Paul’s monastery (Amba Boula). Here the clergy stayed at St. Paul’s monastery while the ladies and their spouses transferred to the nearby Zafarana Hotel, all as guests of the Abbot, His Grace Bishop Daniel.
Early the next morning (23 May) Mass was celebrated by Abba Seraphim in the chapel at the Shrine of St. Paul. After breakfast they left monastery and drove to Abaghia to visit Father Kyrillos, who has a fruitful ministry in a poor suburb among a Muslin majority. Later they visited the shrine of St. Mark in the undercroft of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbesseya. They attended His Holiness Pope Shenouda’s weekly lecture in the Cathedral and afterwards met him upon his return to the Patriarchate, where he blessed them all and distributed gifts. That evening they dined together at St. Mark’s Centre and met Metropolitan Marcos and Bishop Athanasios of the French Coptic Orthodox Church.
On 24 May they drove from Cairo to Alexandria, resting for coffee at the Cecil Hotel. After viewing Pompey’s Pillar and the Serapeum they visited the catacombs at Kom El Shofega and the amphitheatre at Kom El Dikka, followed by a fish lunch. Before leaving Alexandria they visited the Armenian Orthodox Church and were warmly received by the resident priest. They then drove to St. Mina’s monastery at Maryut (ancient Mareotis) where they visited the ancient ruins of old monastic shrine of St. Mina and the pilgrim city, which is now freed from the worse ravages of the rising water table. There are now monks living on this important archaeological site and the Mass and daily prayers are held regularly in a temporary wooden chapel within the site of the ancient shrine church. After dark they entered the new Cathedral to venerate the relics of St. Mina and the crypt tombs of Pope Kyrillos VI and his disciple, Bishop Mina Ava Mina. The party was entertained to dinner at St. Mina’s monastery and warmly received by Bishop Kyrillos, the Abbot of the monastery. After leaving St. Mina’s, they drove to the Vineyard (El-Karma) Retreat Centre at King Mariout, where they were received by Bishop Taodros of Damenhur.
After breakfast (25 May) at the Vineyard Centre they drove to the Syrian monastery (Abba Seraphim’s monastery) in the Wadi N’atrun and viewed the fine wall paintings uncovered in recent years as well as the tree of St. Ephraim the Syrian, before driving back to Cairo. Here Father John, Deacon Richard & Carol visited the Greek Melkite Archbishop, the Armenian Catholic Church in Cairo. Where they were received by Bishop Krikor Coussan. Later they visited the Armenian Orthodox Cathedral beforte rejoining the rest of the party at St. Athanasius Church next to St. Mark’s Centre in Nasr City to see the modern Coptic Ikons, where they were able to meet Tasoni Sawsun, the Pope’s iconographer.
On 26 May Abba Seraphim attended the annual plenary meeting of the Holy Synod whilst the rest of the party visited the Coptic Museum and Churches in Old Cairo (including the Hanging or Suspended Church). Here they were joined by Michael Jones (who had been responsible for the resatoration of the wall paintings at St. Anthony’s monastery) and his wife and, later, by Abba Seraphim. Evertyone lunched at St. George’s monastery and visited monastery church and shrine of St. George before going on to Prince Theodore’s Convent (Emir Tadros) in Harat ar-Rhun, where they were received by the Abbess (Mother Adrosis) and Mother Youhanna. The evening concluded with a short visited to the Bazaar in Khan-El-Khaleli.
On Pentecost Sunday, 27 May, Mass was celebrated by Abba Seraphim in upstairs Chapel of St. Youhanna at the ancient Church of St. Mina, Fum El Khalig, after which they took tea with Enginerr Emil Moroni. Lunch was taken in a restaurant at Maadi overlooking the Nile. In the evening they took a falucca trip at Maadi before visiting Miss Haifa, one of the first deaconesses ordained by Pope Shenouda.
The party returned to the United Kingdom on 28 May.
Father Anthony crosses the Border
On 20 May Father Anthony Clements celebrated his last service as Parish Priest at St. Mary & St. Felix, Babingley, before relocating with his family to the environs of Dumfries. Following the service there was a Reception at the Castle Rising Golf Club where valedictory speeches and presentations were made. Father Anthony has served the community as its priest since it joined the Orthodox Church in 1995. Abba Seraphim has now assumed the immediate pastorate of the church himself with Deacon Mark Saunders as the resident Deacon.
Study Day at Mickfield
The British Orthodox Fellowship organised a Study Day at St. Andrew’s Church at Mickfield in Suffolk on 9 June 2007. Following Morning Prayer Abba Seraphim spoke on the Origins and Ministry of the British Orthodox Church, Peter Farrington gave a very lucid talk on Christology and John Charmley offered a personal testimony of his journey to Orthodoxy. After a simple, but excellent lunch provided by Mark Wright, there followed Afternoon Prayer before Abba Seraphim answered questions and spoke of “Moving Forward” followed by Vespers after which the party adjourned to the village green for a cream tea.
Catechetical School Lectures
Abba Seraphim delivered a series of lectures, “An Introduction to the Councils of the Undivided Church” at St. Mary & St. Felix Church at Babingley on 3 June (The End of Persecution), 17 June (Nicaea, 325), 1 July (Constantinople, 381) and 15 July (Ephesus, 431). These have been under the auspices of the Glastonbury Catechetical School, the church’s body responsible for theological instruction. A second series on “Understanding the Liturgy of St. James” was held on 2 September (The Enarxis or Preparation), 16 September (The Great & Little Entrance) and will continue on 7 October (Consecration & Epiklesis) and 21 October (The Deacon in the Liturgy).
Accompanied by Father Simon Smyth and Subdeacon Paul Ashdown, Abba Seraphim attended the annual Glastonbury Pilgrimage on 16 June. Abba Seraphim and his clergy attended the celebration of the Divine Liturgy by Mitred Archpriest Benedict Ramsden of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh in St. Mary’s Chapel before joining the Procession through the town and attending the Anglican Liturgy in the Abbey Ruins. The Bishop of Plymouth was the celebrant and the Bishop of Horsham preached. Afterwards Abba Seraphim lunched with the Mayor and other dignitaries in the Town Hall.
Meeting of Prayer and Reflection
A Service of Prayer to Remember His Holiness Patriarch Antonios of Eritrea and all Christians currently imprisoned for their beliefs in Eritrea was held at St. Mary’s-on-Paddington Green in London on Wednesday evening, 27 June 2007.
The Oriental Orthodox Churches were represented by Abba Seraphim of the British Orthodox Church (who chaired the proceedings), Bishop Angaelos (Coptic Orthodox) and Archbishop Mar Athanasios Touma (Syriac Orthodox). There was a strong ecumenical representation with The Rev’d Bill Snelson, General Secretary of Churches Together in England; the Bishop of Woolwich (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessun) as well as Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Evangelical clergy present as well as representatives of Amnesty International, Aid to the Church in Need, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Human Rights Concern – Eritrea. A Report of the meeting, with extracts from an interview with Metropolitan Seraphim by Martin Plaut (Africa Editor) was broadcast on the BBC World Service programme “World Briefing” on 28 June.
A list of some 2,000 prisoners held in Eritrea, with many photographs, extended the length of the church’s altar rails, whilst two large pictures of Patriarch Antonios had pride of place.
In his opening remarks, Metropolitan Seraphim thanked people from diverse backgrounds for attending, stating that they were “all here because we love freedom and justice and hate oppression, especially the denial of the freedom to follow one’s conscience.” The Patriarch, as head of the majority Orthodox Church was clearly the most high-profile prisoner of conscience but his main offence appears to have been a refusal to condemn the Madhane Alem Sunday School movement or to condone the arrest and imprisonment of other religious leaders.
Many messages of support for this meeting had been received, but Abba Seraphim read a letter of greetings from the Diocese of North America of the Eritrean Tewahdo Orthodox Church saying that “we are encouraged beyond words to know that His Holiness is not forgotten during this time of great persecution in his life.” The service began with the Coptic Orthodox Prayer of Thanksgiving which, appropriately offered thanks to God “for every condition, and for all things and in all things.”
His Grace Bishop Angaelos spoke of his first encounter with the Eritrean Abbots, whilst serving as Pope Shenouda’s secretary at St. Bishoy’s Monastery. They had come to serve a long retreat prior to their ordination as bishops, after which they would become the nucleus for the Holy Synod of the new Eritrean Orthodox Church. Among these was the future Patriarch Antonios, a gentle and devout monk, whose qualities had led to his unanimous election as Eritrean Patriarch in 2005.
Lessons were read from Matthew V: 2-12 (Bill Snelson) and Romans VIII: 31-39 (Mark Hassell) and prayers were led by Father John Whooley (Catholic priest of Church of the Holy Ghost & St. Stephen, Shepherd’s Bush), the Bishop of Woolwich and Father Simon Smyth (British Orthodox priest of Christ the Saviour Church, Bournemouth) and candles were lit on the altar by the main participants to symbolise the light of hope for all those suffering Christians.
Pastor Gerald Gotzen from Torquay, spoke of his long relationship with Ethiopia and Eritrea and how he had cooperated with Patriarch Antonios in the distribution of Bilbles in Tigrinya when he was Bishop of Hamasien province. Visiting Asmara after the Patriarch had been placed under house arrest, Pastor Gerald happened to meet President Afwerki when he visited the hotel where he was staying. Greeted cordially by the President, he was asked if there was anything he needed, but when he asked to meet with the Patriarch, the President’s cordiality vanished and he was told it was “not possible.” From that moment he was shadowed by the secret police and two days later arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. Although he was denied access to legal representation or the British Embassy and the food and conditions were of the most basic, he was encouraged by the witness and behaviour of many of the other prisoners, many of whom had been imprisoned without trial or sentence for their religious belief. When he was eventually released on Palm Sunday and summarily deported, he was inspired by the text “The Lord sets the prisoners free” (Psalm 147: 7) and his love for Eritrea and its people were not diminished by his treatment.
Dr. Martin Hill from Amnesty International (Africa Programme) noted that although Eritrea had signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its record was one of the worst. Several thousand prisoners of conscience were detained incommunicado without charge or trial and the whereabouts of many political or religious prisoners, including journalists, were not known. Many were in effect victims of enforced disappearance. Many detainees were tortured. Prison conditions, including being held in underground cells or metal shipping containers, amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Virtually no medical treatment was provided.
Minority faith groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and over 35 evangelical Christian churches remained banned, their places of worship shut down and religious gatherings prohibited. Only the four main faiths in Eritrea were allowed to function – the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran (Mekane Yesus) Church and Islam. Dissenting groups within them were also repressed as were those who opposed government authority over them. Patriarch Antonios, head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, was stripped of his powers in mid-2005 and has been held under house arrest since then for protesting at the 2004 detention of three Orthodox priests and secret prison sentences imposed on them.
Elizabeth Chyrum of Human Rights Concern – Eritrea, spoke as an Eritrean human rights activist and outlined the breakdown of justice as an increasingly authoritarian government imposed its will on society. Even those who had distinguished themselves by fighting for independence were not free from persecution, whilst any dissent, even protests about low pay and conditions, was quelled with brutality. She spoke movingly of those who had been taken from their homes and imprisoned for years without any legal process and the steady suppression of human rights and the rule of law.
Bishop Christopher Chessun brought greetings from the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe (The Right Rev’d Geoffrey Rowell), who was also Anglican Co-Chairman of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, and spoke of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deep concern for the current situation in Eritrea.
The meeting concluded with the reading by Abba Seraphim of Abune Antonios’ letter protesting at his illegal and uncanonical removal from office, “No one can be above the law. Whoever tries to trample the law underfoot will himself end up being trampled over by the law. This is a veritable truth.” It was, stated Abba Seraphim, the one opportunity of hearing the authentic voice of the imprisoned Patriarch and it concluded with the prayer, “May God grant His peace to our Church. May God bless our country, Eritrea.”
A petition, addressed to the President of Eritrea, expressing grave concern about the treatment and welfare of Patriarch Antonios and deploring his removal from office without proper judicial and canonical process, was inaugurated at the end of the meeting. Copies may be obtained from the Committee to Remember Patriarch Antonios of Eritrea at 10 Heathwood Gardens, Charlton, London, SE7 8EP. An online version is also available at: abuneantonios.com
Abba Seraphim’s XXXth Anniversary
A Thanksgiving Liturgy was held at St. Thomas’s Church, Charlton, on 7 July to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Abba Seraphim Episcopal consecration (9 July 1977). In his address Abba Seraphim recalled the injunction from Ecclesiastes to “Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, not the years draw nigh” and expressed his thankfulness that the Lord had given him health and vigour these past three decades for the service of His Church and people. His choice of the Old Hundredth as the Gradual Hymn was because it expressed the sense of joy and privilege he had always experienced in being able to serve and worship the Creator “O enter then His gates with praise/Approach with Joy His courts unto” and also the choice of the Communion Hymn “Come ye faithful, raise the anthem” which speaks of the mystery of our liturgical worship here mirroring on earth the glory and wonders of the heavenly celebration.
Abba Seraphim was originally consecrated as a coadjutor to his predecessor who was also his mother’s cousin, an Edwardian but consecrated himself whilst the Allies were bombing Monte Cassino, so in reality his family had overseen the British Orthodox Church for the past 63 years !
In those three decades many co-workers had come and gone – some turned back and gave up – but others continued to the end. Some were invaluable supports to the Church and to him personally and he spoke especially of the late Bishop Ignatius Peter who was ordained priest the year in the year in which he was born, a godly man with a quiet Mancunian humour, beloved by everyone, who was instrumental with Abba Seraphim in establishing the Cusworth congregation and when he died left a generous bequest to the church which has financed much of our work and purchased the Chatham Church outright. Another (who died in the same year) was Archdeacon James Goddard, a former pupil of Abba Seraphim’s, whose professional skills as an accountant proved invaluable. He accompanied Abba Seraphim on most of his travels as his deacon and driver until illness took him from us prematurely, cutting short a promising future.
St. Paul told the Corinthians, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” Abba Seraphim was happy to give thanks to God for his mercies over three decades but preferred that the Thanksgiving Service should not be simply a celebration of Abba Seraphim, as without those co-workers in the past and those with him now, nothing would have been accomplished.
He recalled that when he was consecrated a bishop 30 years ago it was in a small church, which had drifted out of communion with its mother church and it fell to him, in 1994, to reunite us with one of the ancient Oriental Orthodox Patriarchates so that, although still a small diocese, the British Orthodox are united in full communion with their Orthodox brethren in Egypt, India, Syria, Armenia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and their diasporas – somewhere around 50 million believers.
The Church may be something which transcends all ages but it is called to witness to the faith in each generation. It is a truism to observe that life in Britain in 2007 is very different to how it was in 1977. The process of de-Christianisation that has been in our society since the Great War has certainly accelerated in recent years along with other significant social changes and at times Abba Seraphim confessed that he sometimes felt rather like a remnant from a civilisation which is in retreat. He then spoke of some of his concerns about problems currently facing our society.
A buffet reception followed the service in the church hall.
Work on Bournemouth Church
During the early part of 2007 long overdue cleaning and redecorating work began, culminating in two days one Friday and Saturday during Lent involving several of the congregation. This included two coats of emulsion to the pitched ceiling, the first time this had been redecorated since for over years. Where the ceiling above the upstairs vestry is still to be painted there is a very noticeable ‘before and after’ effect, the old somewhere between grey and black contrasting with the new white! Much work was undertaken in repainting the walls, in painting the dark blue woodwork a lighter shade of blue (matching the beautiful blue domes of many an island Greek Orthodox Church). Due to the discovery of severe defects in the roof, including a complete hole at one point, all further redecoration was put on hold until after the roof was repaired. The inside of the Church, even though unfinished, certainly looks cleaner and brighter than for a long time.
Several re-roofing estimates were obtained, all proving beyond the current funds. So two of the congregation, Nicolae Popu and Diana Radu undertook this work between them, stripping off the old slates and fixing new membrane, battens and slates. This husband and wife team worked wonderfully on this labour of love and were delighted to have been able to contribute to the Church in this way. Thankfully the re-roofing work was completed before the deluge of recent months. It has certainly been well tested and we are pleased to report no evidence of leaks despite the severe test. The ongoing internal works including electrical and additional storage cupboards as well as the decorations are now re-commencing.
Anniversary Celebration at Cusworth
To mark the 25th Anniversary of Archdeacon Alexander Astill’s ordination as Deacon (24 July 1982) a surprise celebration was organised by the clergy at the Church of St. Mark and St. Hubert at Cusworth. On behalf of the Bournemouth congregation, for which Archdeacon Alexander was originally ordained, Father Simon sent special greetings and Abba Seraphim also wrote commending his devoted service to the Church, both as a Deacon and as a committed member for the past forty years. He succeeded Archdeacon James Goddard as Archdeacon in 1993.
Abba Seraphim was among the speakers at the Annual Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, which was held at All Saints Pastoral Centre at London Colney: 13-17 August. The theme this year was “Scripture in the Church” and Abba Seraphim spoke on Scripture and Tradition. During the conference the participants visited St. Albans’s Abbey to venerate the relics of Britain’s Protomartyr and were prese nt for an address by the Dean of St. Albans (The Very Rev’d Dr. Jeffrey John) on “The Assumption and Scripture. Abba Seraphim’s talk has been published by the British Orthodox Press and is available as a booklet.
After several weeks of continuous rain, a dry spell arrived providentially to coincide with a workday at St. Felix, Babingley. Some eighteen “Babingley Volunteers” reported for duty and while the able-bodied busied themselves with preparing surfaces, painting window frames, strimming the long grass around the Church, cutting back overgrown shrubs and cleaning out the foundation ditches to refill with three tons of shingle, others kept up a constant supply of refreshments. The local congregation deeply appreciated the support of friends who so generously supported their efforts.
The deacons at St. Felix have also issued an Appeal for the Restoration of the leaded-glass windows:
“Prior to its use for Orthodox worship in May 2000, St. Felix Church suffered a period of neglect and vandalism which included damage to its windows. These are simple, attractive intersecting tracery with tinted lozenge-shaped leaded-lights. Although these have been repaired, there are three mainlight panels which have been replaced by plain glass whilst some twelve other smaller panes are cracked and damaged.
It is our desire to restore all these panes to their original condition, but as this is skilled work we will need to engage a stained-glass specialist rather than an ordinary glazier. The estimate we have received for this work to be completed is £1,500 – a relatively modest sum, but one which is currently beyond the means of our little congregation. We are issuing this appeal to our members and friends with the blessing of our Bishop, Abba Seraphim.” Donations can be sent to St. Felix Window Appeal, 56 Low Road, Congham, Norfolk, PE32 1AE. and cheques made payable to “Babingley Parish – British Orthodox Church”
For some years Alan Theodore de Quincey, an English member of the Eglise Copte Orthodoxe Française, has been a familiar and welcome face at British Orthodox services. It was, therefore, with great joy that we learned of his ordination as Deacon at the hands of Metropolitan Marcos of Toulon, assisted by Bishop Athanasios, on 15 August 2007 at the Ermitage Saint-Marc Fontanieu at Le-Revest-les-Eaux. By agreement between Abba Marcos and Abba Seraphim, Deacon Theodore will assist at the monthly Liturgy at St. Mary on Paddington Green when he is in London.
Another Service venue
On Saturday, 1 September Father Simon Smyth celebrated the Divine Liturgy at a new monthly venue in Christ Church, Sayers Common (just off the A23 between Brighton and Horsham). The Rev’ds David and Rebecca Swyer of this beautiful Anglican Church have been as helpful and welcoming as anyone could possibly have asked for and we are very grateful to them for their hospitality in allowing us to worship there once a month. The Bishop of Horsham to whom we are equally grateful and with whom we have long had good relations (he has episcopal oversight for Trotton where we have worshipped for fourteen years) expressed his delight at the prospect of Orthodox worship in another of his Churches. So there will be two Sussex Liturgies each month from September onwards – Sayers Common on the first Saturday and Trotton on the third Sunday.
Forthcoming dates and times for the new Sayers Common Liturgy are as follows:
Saturday 1st September Morning Incense 9.15, Divine Liturgy 10.00
Saturday 3rd November Morning Incense 9.15, Divine Liturgy 10.00
Saturday 1st December Morning Incense 9.15, Divine Liturgy 10.00
Saturday 5th January 2008 Morning Incense 9.15, Divine Liturgy 10.00
Abba Seraphim received Father Dr. Sergei Shirokov of the Centre for Mission Studies in Moscow at the Church Secretariat on 18 December, 2006.
Abba Seraphim was present at the funeral and burial of the late Dr. Judith Pinnington, who died suddenly on 7 December 2006 aged 71 years. The funeral was held in the Chapel of Westcott House, Cambridge, on 22 December 2006 and was conducted by Father Raphael Armour of the Russian Orthodox diocese of Sourozh. Abba Seraphim is the sole executor of Dr. Pinnington.
Father Sergius Scott represented Abba Service at a celebration of the Divine Liturgy by HG Thomas Mar Makarios on 1 January 2007 to mark the inauguration of the new North London congregation of the Indian Orthodox Church in St. Margaret’s Hall, Rectory Lane, Station Road, Edgware.
Abba Seraphim and Fr. Sergius Scott were present at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy marking the name day of His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira on 25 January 2007 and afterwards joined other guests for lunch with Archbishop Gregorios.
Abba Seraphim and Archbishop Athanasius of the Syrian Orthodox Church represented the Oriental Orthodox Churches at a banquet in honour of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, held at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, on 29 January.
Abba Seraphim and Fr. Sergius Scott attended “The Price of Freedom: practical implications of taking a stand for Christ” meeting organised by the Barnabas Fund at St. Mark’s Church, Kennington, on 2 February. Among the speakers were Nadia Eweida, the British airways employee suspended for wearing a cross necklace publicly and Pastor Daniel Scott from Australia who is awaiting re-trial accused of “vilifying Muslims.”
On 10 March, Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Fathers Sergius Scott, & Seraphim Mina attended Syrian Orthodox Vespers celebrated at Westminster Cathedral by Archbishop Athanasios, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Great Britain. Also present were Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira, Bishop Bernard Longley, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and Bishop Christopher Chessun of Woolwich.
Father Anthony Clements spoke on “The Coptic Tradition” at the Ecumenical Pilgrimage to Walsingham on 14 March and Abba Seraphim and other British Orthodox members from Babingley, attended services and meetings there on 15 March.
Abba Seraphim, Father Sergius Scott and Father Seraphim Mina attended the quarterly meetings of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches at Armenian House, Kensington, on 5 June.
Abba Seraphim attended the half-yearly meeting of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Forum at Notting Hill on 13 June.
Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Father Sergius Scott, attended the annual Patronal Festival at St. Alban’s, Holborn, at which the Bishop of Sheffield preached, on 20 June.