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News from the British Orthodox Church

Recent Ordinations

On 24 January 2005 at St. Thomas ’s Church, Old Charlton, London , Andrew CHADWICK was ordained Reader at the hands of Abba Seraphim.

On 17 February 2005 at the Monastery of Saint Menas (Deir Abu Mina), in Old Cairo (Fumm al-Khalig), Egypt, Timothy Athanasius John SUTTON was ordained Reader at the hands of Abba Seraphim.

On 17 April 2005 at St. Thomas ’s Church, Old Charlton, London , Andrew CHADWICK was ordained Subdeacon at the hands of Abba Seraphim.

On 30 April 2005 , Pascha Eve, at the Church of Christ the Saviour, Winton, Bournemouth , Nicolae POPA was ordained Reader at the hands of Abba Seraphim.

On 22 May 2005 at St. Thomas ’s Church, Old Charlton, London , James Ignatius STUART was ordained Reader at the hands of Abba Seraphim.

New Indian Orthodox Church consecrated

Saint Gregorius Indian Orthodox Church in Cranfield Road , Brockley, south-east London (see Glastonbury Review No. 108, p. 232) was finally consecrated in a series of festivities which culminated in a vigil, followed the next morning by a great celebration of the Holy Qurbana on New Year’s Day, 1 January 2005.

Presiding over the celebration was the diocesan bishop, His Grace Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios, who had come from his home in Buffalo . Clergy of the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean and Armenian Churches were vested and in the sanctuary including Abba Seraphim and Bishop Angaelos. There were also a number of other ecumenical guests, including several local clergy. The building had been splendidly transformed over the last few months and was now an impressive and worthy sanctuary. Afterwards a reception was organised in the spacious halls behind the Sanctuary.

Eritrean Christmas

On 6 January, accompanied by Fathers Sergius Scott and Simon Smyth, assisted by Deacon Seraphim Ava Mina, Subdeacon Paul Ashdown and Reader Edward Smyth, Abba Seraphim presided and preached at the St. Michael’s Eritrean Orthodox Church in Camberwell on 6 January, the Eve of the Feast of the Nativity (Old Style).

Indian Bishop at Secretariat

On 21 January His Grace Metropolitan Dr. Kuriakose Theophilose of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, accompanied by Father Eldhose Koungampillil, were received at the Church Secretariat at Charlton by Abba Seraphim. Dr. Kuriakose Theophilose is Professor of the Theological Seminary at Mulanthuruthy in Kerala as well as being the Metropolitan for the diocese of Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

Catholic Bishop at Babingley

The Right Rev’d Michael Evans, Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, was the guest preacher at the annual service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, at the Orthodox Church at Babingley, which was held under the auspices of ‘Churches Together in King’s Lynn. As iun previous years, the church was full for the service.

Great Vespers at Westminster

On 22 January Byzantine Great Vespers was held in Westminster Cathedral for the third consecutive year to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Presided over by Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira, assisted by Bishop Theodoritos of Nazianzos and with Bishop Basil of Sergievo preaching, the service took place in the presence of Their Majesties King Constantine XIII and Queen Anne-Marie of the Helenes. The choirs of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sophia in Moscow Road, Bayswater, both participated with much of the service sung in English. The Oriental Orthodox Churches were represented by Abba Seraphim and Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian; Fathers Snork Bagdassarian, Sergius Scott and Simon Smyth and Deacon Aziz Abdul-Nour. A reception was held afterwards in Vaughan House organised by the Society of St. Jon Chrysostom.

Golden Jubilee for Archbishop Gregorios

Abba Seraphim and Bishop Angaelos represented the Oriental Orthodox Churches at a Reception and Dinner given by the Association of Greek Orthodox Communities of Great Britain held at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, on 29 January, to honour Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. In his message of felicitation Abba Seraphim wrote, “Archbishop Gregorios has retained those invaluable and highly cherished qualities of humility, humour and humility which are the hallmarks of a Christian gentleman, whilst also maintaining the essential ministry of the faithful pastor and shepherd of his flock alongside fidelity to his monastic vocation.”

Pilgrimage to Egypt

Abba Seraphim was accompanied on his twenty-seventh visit to Egypt by a small party of British pilgrims: Father Simon Smyth with his wife Sheila and daughters, Fiona and Catherine; Shirley Huish, Tim & Leigh Sutton; John Crotty and John Weatherall. Arriving at Cairo airport on 12 February they were met by the indefatigable Shenouda Mamdouh and taken to St. Mark’s Centre in Nasr City by their regular driver, Ibrahim. The weather was slightly colder than London and people remarked that this was the coldest Amshir for forty years !

On 13 February the party visited the Egyptian Museum and the American University in Cairo bookshop before travelling to Old Cairo. Here they visited the Church of St. Barbara, the Ben Ezra Synagogue and St. George’s Convent. Here they met and lunched together with His Grace Bishop Sebastian of Ilfov, Episcopal Vicar of Bucharest, who was accompanied by Talaat Takla Mourkus, a Coptic deacon studying with the Romanian Orthodox Church. The convent was undergoing major renovation works, especially concerning drainage problems relating to the raised water level, which has afflicted much of Old Cairo. They inspected the renovation of the convent’s chapel and the tenth century mandậrah or Hall of Nuptials, which serves as the shrine of Saint George. Here the ancient foundations are temporarily exposed.

Taking leave of Mother Kyria they visited the Hanging Church (Al-Mu‘allaqah) and were greeted by Mr. Nashaat Nadeem, whose archive of Coptic photographs is always a joy to examine. After this the main party returned to Nasr City whilst Abba Seraphim, Father Simon and Shenouda Mamdouh visited Miss Helen Shalaby in an Elderly House at Heliopolis. Here they were joined by Monica Hannah, an archaeologist and Coptologist. Abba Seraphim also blessed the other residents, including a priest Father Babriel and his wife, and prayed for them. [Only a week later, on 21 February, Miss Helen Shalaby suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 89 years] From here Abba Seraphim and his companions drove to a hospital at Ard de Golf to pray for Mary Mina, the mother of Father Arsanious Amba Boula, returning to Nasr City for supper with the rest of the group.

On 14 February the entire group set off for the Fayoum, which Abba Seraphim had not visited since February 1994 (see issue No. 87, p. 140). First stopping at the Monastery of the Archangel Gabriel (al Malak) at Naqlun, Abba Seraphim remarked on the extensive construction work which had taken place over the past decade. He was also delighted to meet again with Father Arsanious (originally from Amba Bishoy monastery) whom he had known when he was parish priest at Kirkcaldy. From here the party travelled to the Fayoum Bishopric where they were

warmly received by Bishop Abram. After lunch they were able to inspect some of the bishopric’s very impressive activities – especially its thriving infant school, impressive nuptial halls and wedding dress workshop – and to pray at the shrine of St. Abba Abram (1829-1914), a former Bishop of Fayoum. The group then travelled to the Retreat House at Abu Talaat, near to Alexandria, where they stayed for the next two nights.

On 15 February they breakfasted at the Hotel Cecil in Alexandria before sightseeing in the town. Abba Seraphim visited the Greek Patriarchate to pay his respects to Patriarch Theodoros II (see below). After a fish lunch the group visited some of the ancient sites of the city including Pompey’s Pillar, the Serapeum and the catacomnbs of Kom El Shofiqa, before returning to Abu Talaat.

On 16 February they left Alexandria and drove to the Wadi El Na’trun, paying brief visits to St. Bishoy’s, the Syrian and Baramous monasteries as well as the cave of Pope Kyrillos VI, at the last of which they were greeted by His Grace Bishop Isithoros, the Abbot. Unfortunately, the heavy traffic on the approach to Cairo prevented their attending the Pope’s Wednesday evening lecture but they were afterwards able to greet His Holiness at the Patriarchate. Seeing the British members together the Pope quipped that it was an Anglo-Egyptian delegation.Whilst at the Patriarchate they were also able to greet His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, His Grace Bishop Antony of Scotland, Ireland & North East England and Father Antonious Thabit of St. Mark’s, Kensington.

On 17 February Abba Seraphim, assisted by Fathers Arsanious Amba Boula and Simon Smyth, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the ancient monastery of St. Menas, Fum El Khalig, during which Tim Sutton was ordained as a Reader. After greeting Father Gabriel, the parish priest, the party drove to St. Theodore’s Convent (Amir Tâdpos) at Hậrat ar Rûm, where they were greeted by the Abbess, Mother Adrosios and stayed for lunch. After shopping in Khan El Khalili, they visited the subterranean Church of the Holy Virgin (Al-‘Adhrâ’) at Hậrat Zuwailah to view the water damage caused by the raised water table, which is markedly worse with water pouring into the church and only kept in check by constant pumping. Afterwards they visited the nuns of the Convent of the Holy Virgin and Church of St. George, which overlooks it from the street level.

On 18 the group travelled to Saqquara, Dahshour and Giza to visit the various pyramids, assisted by Osama Naeem, who acted as their guide. Returning to Cairo, they called on an old friend, Miss Haifa at Heliopolis, before returning to St. Mark’s Centre, where they were joined at supper by Fr. Arsanious Amba Boula and Osama Kamel, who had come to take leave of Abba Seraphim. The group flew into London on 19 February.

Abba Seraphim received by Greek Patriarch

On 15 February Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Father Simon Smyth and some of the British Orthodox members visiting Alexandria , was received by His Beatitude Theodoros II, the newly elected Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. Patriarch Theodoros spoke of his love of Britain, the warm relations with the Coptic Orthodox Church, his desire to encourage the spread of Orthodoxy in Africa and to foster good ecumenical relations. Abba Seraphim spoke of the importance to all British Orthodox of the Joint Commission between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches because of the need to bear a united witness to Orthodoxy in a secular society. Patriarch Theodoros said he had heard of Abba Seraphim’s ministry from the Ecumenical Patriarch and assured him of always being welcome at the Greek Patriarchate.

Abba Seraphim was also able to congratulate His Grace Bishop George of Nilopolis , formerly Patriarchal Vicar in Alexandria , on his election as Metropolitan of Zimbabwe, the see held by Patriarch Theodoros prior to his election last October.

Death of Archpriest Sergei Hackel

Father Sergius Scott represented Abba Seraphim at the funeral of Archpriest Sergei Hackel held at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral at Ennismore Gardens , Kensington, on 18 February. Expressing his condolences to His Grace Bishop Basil of Sergievo, Abba Seraphim wrote, “On the occasions when I met Fr. Sergei at ecumenical gatherings I found him not only a most competent exponent of his subject, but also challenging and refreshingly frank. His principled and scrupulous consideration of issues was always tempered with a self-deprecating humour and a courteous charity derived from his own deep spirituality. He was a true scholar, a faithful pastor and an ornament to the priesthood. He is a great loss to the Orthodox Church in this country but I am sure his influence and witness, through his writings, will continue to bear fruit.”

Home to two congregations

With the blessing of Abba Seraphim and Thomas Mar Makarios, Malankara Orthodox Metropolitan of Canada and Europe , the Indian Orthodox community in Bournemouth will now have a monthly Liturgy at the Church of Christ the Saviour, Winton. This will be celebrated on the third Saturday in each month, the hours being prayed at 9.00 a.m. and the Liturgy at 9.30 a.m.

On 19 March. His Grace Philipos Mar Eusabius, Metropolitan of Thumpamon, presided at the Liturgy with a congregation of fifty. The bishop was profuse in expressing his gratitude to the Coptic Orthodox Church, to His Eminence Abba Seraphim and to Fr. Simon for the use of the Church. Fr Simon welcomed the bishop on behalf of Abba Seraphim, expressing British Orthodox joy at the blessing of His Grace being present in the Church of Christ the Saviour. He added that it was a delight to be able to offer something back to our Oriental Orthodox brethren for all the spiritual riches that we have received from them. Fr. Abraham Thomas celebrated the April Liturgy with, again, nearly fifty present.

Death of Pope John Paul II

In the United Kingdom , Father Sergius Scott represented Abba Seraphim at the Solemn Vespers of the Dead held at Westminster Cathedral on 4 April.

The previous evening Fr. Simon Smyth, accompanied by Shirley Huish, visited Fr Marcus Brisley, the Catholic parish priest for the Church of the Annunciation, Bournemouth (a long standing friend of the British Orthodox Church) to offer condolences. Later that evening he also managed a brief visit to Fr. Kevin Bidgood, parish priest at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Waterlooville to offer condolences and presented Fr Kevin with a photograph of Pope John Paul together with Pope Shenouda. Fr. Kevin had the photo placed next to one of Pope John Paul at the front of the Church. On Friday 8 th April Fr Simon visited Portsmouth Roman Catholic Cathedral to sign the book of condolences and attended a requiem mass celebrated by Fr. Kevin Bidgood at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Waterlooville that evening. On Sunday 10 th April Fr Simon and Sheila Smyth attended an ecumenical service in memory of Pope John Paul II at Portsmouth Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Ninetieth Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

Father Sergius Scott represented Abba Seraphim at a service held at St. Yegishé’s Armenian Church in London on Sunday, 24 April, the ninetieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In a message, which was read out at the service, Abba Seraphim said:

“The 90 th Anniversary of the sorrowful events of 1915 is especially significant for our family of Oriental Orthodox Churches for, whilst the heaviest burden fell on the Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman EWmpirew, we know that the many Syrian Orthodox Christians also suffered a similar fate. As these two historic nations stood together in proclaiming the Orthodox Faith, so they fell together under the cruel hand of Godless men.

There can be little doubt that those who died suffered as martyrs, because it was their love and faithfulness for the Christian faith which has always distinguished the entire Armenian people. It is also significant that the fierce destruction focussed so greatly on the churches and Christian symbols, thus exemplifying the motivation of the perpetrators of this great evil.

Yet through the Providence of God they were thwarted in their desiree to utterly expunge an ancient preople from their historicx homeland and today the Armenian Church and nationb bears a strong witness to the world.

Had the world taken proper note of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, it might have been more prepared to withstand the inherent evils of the Nazi incitement against the Jews and of still more recent genocides. That failure to face up to inhumanity or to reject all intolerance of national and religious integrity, is something to be recognised and overcome.

Our common humanity remains diminished when it fails to repent and seek forgiveness. As in the early age of the Christian Church, however, the blood of the martyrs became the seeds of a new life. The rebirth of the Armenian nation and the renewal of the Church’s Apostolic witness in our own time, are signs of hope to all who suffer and an assurance of the tender mercies of God.”

On 15 June Abba Seraphim was among the ecumenical guests who attended another commemorative service at St. Margaret’s, Westminster , organised by the British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group at which His Excellency Vartan Oskanian, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia , delivered the main address.

Snippets

On 7 January Abba Seraphim blessed the home of Marian Shehata

On 11 January Abba Seraphim, assisted by Fathers Sergius Scott and Michael Robson, officiated at the Forty Day Requiem service for the late mother of Martha Mulugeta-Berihun, which was held in the seventeenth century chapel at Morden College , Blackheath.

Father Anthony Clements participated in the Second Ecumenical Pilgrimage to Walsingham during 8-11 March at which His Grace Bishop Angaelos spoke on the place of Mary in the Coptic Church.

On 22 June, accompanied by Father Sergius Scott, Abba Seraphim attended the Patronal Day festivities at St. Alban’s Church, Holborn, at which Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford was the preacher.

Abba Seraphim offered his apologies for not attending the meeting of the Holy Synod at Pentecost due to family commitments.




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