- The Passing of a Much Loved Pope
- Reflections on the Passing of H.H. Pope Shenouda
- Here, There and Everywhere
- News from the Mother Church
- Oriental Orthodox Church News
- Further New Developments in Glastonbury Archaeology
- An Apostle of ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’
- Circumcision and the Copts
- An Orthodox View of the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Alter Orbis
- Book Reviews
HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
News of the Church from divers Quarters
Part 1: The British Orthodox Church
On 5 May 2012 Daniel Martin Malyon was ordained Subdeacon at the London Mission of SS. George & Paul the Hermit, worshipping in St. George-in-the-East, Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, London, at the hands of Abba Seraphim.
On 1 July 2012 James Antony Kelly was ordained Subdeacon at the Church of Christ the Saviour, Winton, Bournemouth, Dorset, at the hands of Abba Seraphim.
On 1 July 2012 Anthony John Holland (Angony-Paul in religion) was ordained Subdeacon at the Church of Christ the Saviour, Winton, Bournemouth, Dorset, at the hands of Abba Seraphim.
St. Sarkis Patronal Festival
On 4 February the Armenian Parish of St. Sarkis in Kensington celebrated its Patronal Festival with an Ecumenical Service for Peace. Among the dignitaries attending were Her Excellency Mrs. Karine Kazinian, who took up her position as Armenian Ambassador to the Court of St. James last September but has quickly become a popular figure with the Armenian community here and Her Worship the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (Councillor Julie Mills). Among the clergy attending were Abba Seraphim, His Grace Bishop Angaelos and His Eminence Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate) as well as priests from the Catholic Church, the Church of England and the Church in Wales.
After welcoming the ecumenical guests, His Grace Bishop Vahan spoke about the life of St. Sarkis and his example of service and the pursuit of truth and peace. It has become a tradition at this annual celebration to honour the service of one of the long-serving members of the Armenian community and this year Mr. Armenag Topalian, who has served in various positions for some four decades and recently retired from his term as a Trustee of the Church (2004-2012) received a public citation of thanks.
Also attending from the British Orthodox Church were Deacon Theodore de Quincey and Reader Daniel Malyon (pictured with Bishop Vahan and Abba Seraphim). The occasion also marks the eightieth anniversary of the church’s consecration (11 January 1923).
Abba Seraphim visits Portsmouth Parish
On 11 February Abba Seraphim visited the Portsmouth Parish of St. Mary & St. Moses the Black, which worships in St. Faith’s Church, Cresswell Street. There was a good attendance with representatives of the Bournemouth Parish and Southampton community and it proved a busy day, as prior to the Divine Liturgy Father Simon Smyth had baptised three children, whom Abba Seraphim welcomed into fellowship. On presenting them with neck crosses he reminded them of the importance of the cross as a witness to our faith and spoke of the ancient tradition among Copts and others of having their children tatooed with a cross on their wrists.
The congregation was also delighted to welcome Abba Seraphim’s mother, Joyce Edwards, who had accompanied him and is now fully recovered from her mini-stroke. At the conclusion of the service they enjoyed a fellowship meal together provided by the family of the newly baptised children. After leaving the church Abba Seraphim went to inspect a local property which the parish is considering purchasing for their own use as they have been actively searching for suitable premises for some months.
Father Silas visits London
On 20 February Father Silas Spear flew into London on a stop-over for his traditional three-month visit to St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Kitchener, Ontario, where he assists Father Athanasius Iskander. Abba Seraphim was at the airport to meet him and take him back to the Church Secretariat at Charlton. After a brief rest he accompanied Abba Seraphim and Father Peter Farrington to the meeting at St. George’s-in-the-East at Shadwell. On 21 February Father Silas accompanied Abba Seraphim to Morden College at Blackheath to visit Father Michael Robson, who was delighted to see him. Whilst there Father Silas also visited the College Chapel and met with Father Nick Woodcock, the College chaplain.
New London Mission launched
On 20 February, at the historic Church of St. George’s-in-the-East, Abba Seraphim announced the launch of a new London Mission by the British Orthodox Church. Although services have been held in the Charlton and Blackheath area of south-east London since December 1972, it was always hoped to organise something in a more central location. Having investigated various possible venues and prayed that something appropriate would become available, the Parish priest of St. George’s (Canon Michael Ainsworth) and the church’s PCC had generously offered their facilities for Orthodox use.
Believing this to be a providential arrangement and being anxious to respond to the increasing number of requests by enquirers and seekers, Abba Seraphim, assisted by Father Peter Farrington, have committed themselves to provide monthly liturgies as well as monthly meetings for study and instruction in Orthodox faith and spirituality.
In his address Father Peter spoke of the nineteenth century mission of Father Bryan King, the Rector of St. George’s at that time, whose ministry to the poor and wretched in the notorious Ratcliffe Highway and Docklands environs provoked the 1859-60 Ritualism Riots. There are parallels with our own time and he hoped that our Orthodox ministry would build on the Catholic vision of sacrifice and service. It was our strong desire not merely to bring Orthodox worship and spirituality to the area for the edification of Orthodox Christians but to engage with and reach out to the local people and their needs. He desired that Orthodox would share in the ministry already being undertaken by other local Christian communities.
Abba Seraphim hoped that this mission would be an eirenic one of pan-Orthodox cooperation, demonstrating the universality of Orthodoxy as well as the richness of its local traditions. He welcomed the neighbouring outreach and ministry in the City of London, also beginning next month, under the oversight of His Grace Bishop Angaelos and the Coptic Youth and believed that this was no mere coincidence but an evangelistic impulse of the Holy Spirit. The two ministries would not only be united by a common faith but also in prayerful support of each other.
Abba Seraphim preaches at Greenwich
At the invitation of the Chaplain, The Rev’d Jeremy Frost, Abba Seraphim preached at the Choral Eucharist at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel at Greenwich on 4 March. The College is now part of the University of Greenwich but the Chapel, which was constructed by Thomas Ripley to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren, was the last major part of the Royal Hospital for Seamen to be built. Following a disastrous fire in 1779, it was redecorated by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart in the Greek revival style, and today is a fine example of a complete neoclassical interior.
The Chapel is dedicated to SS Peter & Paul, and is full of naval symbols, intended to remind the residents of the Royal Hospital for Seamen, who worshipped there daily, of their former lives. One of Abba Seraphim’s ancestors, Joseph Potter (1769-1855), who was decorated for his part in the fierce naval Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1797) was a pensioner at Greenwich Hospital 1842-1855.
Abba Seraphim preached on the Gospel of the day, Mark VIII: 31-38 on the theme of taking up one’s cross.
St. Dunstan’s Bells
Abba Seraphim joined the congregation of the Guild Church of St. Dunstan’s-in-the-West on 14 March for the service of The Solemn Consecration of the New Ring of Ten Bells, which was performed by the Lord Bishop of London (The Rt. Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres). Although the ceremony is quite a rarity, the Bishop of London admitted that this was the third set of bells he had consecrated in the City of London in recent years (St. Magnus the Martyr in 2009 & St. Michael’s, Cornhill in 2011).
Although it took place within the Lenten season, the ceremony had a festive feel to it, with Psalm 150 sung in Grandsire Triples and a newly composed Festal Te Deum by Stuart Murray Turnbull. The bells, decorated with white ribbons and trailing ivy, were displayed in the sanctuary as the bishop and clergy, in gold vestments processed into the church to the strains of J.M. Neale’s “Christ in Made the Sure Foundation”. Following the old Pontificale Romanum the bells were each sprinkled with Holy Water, before being named by their sponsors, anointed with Oil of Catechesis, consecrated with Chrism and solemnly censed. Not only were they censed on the outside but a long-handled chafing dish was used to incense the interiors. The bells will now be hung and it is intended that they will first ring on 5 June when H.M. The Queen enters the City of London on her way to St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Service of Thanksgiving.
The service was followed by a reception generously hosted by Hoare’s Bank in Fleet Street.
Apart from being one of the ecumenical guests, Abba Seraphim’s had a number of reasons for his interest in the service: St. Dunstan was Abbot of Glastonbury; Abba Seraphim is a direct male descendant of the celebrated thirteenth century Kentish bell-founder, Stephen Norton; whilst another of his ancestors, Samuel Hugh Newman, was baptised in old St. Dunstan’s on 25 October 1798.
Abba Seraphim attends Citizenship Ceremony
Abba Seraphim was present at the Town Hall in Woolwich on 15 March when Michel Wahba and his wife Marynet Bassily received their Certificates of Naturalisation from the Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London & Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the Royal Borough of Greenwich (Colonel Cyril Young, TD, DL, FRCOG). During the Citizenship Ceremony those seeking naturalisation swear allegiance to H.M. The Queen and promise to uphold the laws and values of the United Kingdom. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the National Anthem. Both Michel and Marynet are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, although neither was born in Egypt, Marynet having been born in Abu Dhabi and Michel in Kuwait. They now live in Thamesmead, so regularly attend the services at Charlton.
In conversation after the ceremony, Colonel Young spoke warmly of his visits to Egypt and his respect for the Coptic Orthodox Church. Since 1984 he has served as trustee of the Bible Lands Fellowship, giving as one of his reasons for being involved “is that I feel as Western Christians we need to understand that we are not the ‘original’ Christians and learn from those who still live in the Middle East.”
New bishops for Anglican Diocese of Southwark
As a result of Abba Seraphim’s absence in Egypt following the sudden death of H.H. Pope Shenouda, he was obliged to cancel a number of important engagements. One of these was the consecration of two new suffragen bishops for the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, which took place at Southwark Cathedral on 21 March. He was represented, however, by his Secretary, Mr. Trevor Maskery, who conveyed greetings on Abba Seraphim’s behalf to the new bishops as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Southwark.
The new bishops, The Right Rev’d Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Woolwich, and The Right Rev’d Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, were consecrated in Southwark Cathedral, in the presence of a large congregation. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was principal consecrator, movingly spoke of the death of H.H. Pope Shenouda, and offered condolences to His Grace Bishop Angaelos, who also had been unable to attend.
At the reception, which followed at Lambeth Palace, Mr. Maskery observed to the new bishops that as the British Orthodox Church’s secretariat is based in Charlton in south-east London, we felt it was important to welcome both Bishops to their new sees and hopefully begin a close working relationship with them, just as we have shared the same with the Bishop of Southwark during his previous ministry as Bishop of Woolwich and continue to do so.
The Archbishop of Canterbury discussed with Mr Maskery the departure of the Pope and the future of the Coptic people. He held them in his prayers. The Bishop of Southwark expressed the same views and expressed his sorrow at the death of Pope Shenouda and said that he would be representing the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Memorial Service to be held at St. George’s Cathedral in Stevenage.
Pope Shenouda commemorated
British Orthodox churches and congregations joined with the rest of the Coptic Patriarchate in remembering Pope Shenouda during the traditional forty days of mourning. In the Church of Christ the Saviour, Bournemouth, the photographs of our beloved patriarch, His Holiness Pope Shenouda, were veiled in black with lighted candles and a cross placed in front. The tone of sadness and loss that Father Simon had heard from so many the previous evening as he had ’phoned to tell them the news could not be hidden during the Sunday Divine Liturgy. At the conclusion of the Liturgy the hymn “For all the saints who from their labours rest” was sung with real meaning and depth of feeling by the congregation.
Father Simon then stood before the veiled photograph and read an extract from His Holiness’ book The Release of the Spirit: “What can we say about the father bishops each of whom will be asked by God about nearly two hundred thousands or more whether priests or lay-men? …pray for them earnestly that God may help them carry out their duties… Remember how the holy monks used to escape from this position because of its fearful responsibility. And when one of them was taken by force and ordained as bishop he cried out weeping before God and saying, ‘O Lord, you know that I left the world and went to the monastery to seek my own salvation.. But now I return to the world though I have not attained salvation yet and is required to save others also… What about our fathers the Patriarchs, each one of whom God will ask about ten million in Egypt and much more in” the West and around the world. “My brethren, you ought to pray for every Patriarch that he may be able to perform his duties and give a good reply to God when He asks him about his own soul and the souls of the bishops, priests, deacons, monks and laymen… and about keeping the church laws and spreading the Orthodox faith all over the world… do not look to God’s ministers and to those who hold any responsibilities just like spectators praising them when they do good and condemning them when they do wrong… You rather pray for them…” The morning worship ended with the Memorial Service and the singing of
“Give rest, O Christ, Thou light of Light Eternal”:
“Though o’er the grave, for loved ones, still we sorrow,
Yet we may commune with them while we’re waiting,
And, in the joyful hope of that ‘tomorrow’:
Sing Alleluia !”
The Portsmouth Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black was represented by Reader James Kelly who spoke briefly and movingly of meeting Pope Shenouda in Egypt in late 2010. The Southampton Mission of Saint Polycarp was represented by Mary Goodchild. Both in Southampton and Portsmouth the congregations also veiled photos of Pope Shenouda in black and lit candles before them for their Memorial Services.
At Doncaster, Pope Shenouda III was remembered in prayers at the Sunday Liturgy of the Church at Cusworth, as were the people of Egypt and the authorities tasked with governing the Church until a new Pope is elected. After the Liturgy special memorial prayers were also offered for the repose of our late Pope’s soul. Although the Babingley, Norfolk, congregation had to cancel its Sunday Raising of Incense and Divine Liturgy service, due to Abba Seraphim leaving for Cairo, a prayer service was held for His Holiness lead by Deacons Mark Saunders and Deacon Christopher Barnes.
The congregation of St. Alban and St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Chatham prayed for the repose of His Holiness during the Liturgy, and then offered prayers for him after the Liturgy in the form of the Memorial prayer service.
Memorial Service for His Holiness Pope Shenouda III was held at St. George’s Cathedral, Stevenage, on 24 March. Bishop Angaelos officiated and clergy of both the Oriental Orthodox and other traditions officiated. Abba Seraphim and Archbishop Athanasios (Syriac Orthodox Church) chanted the psalms; the Bishop of Southwark (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum) read the Pauline Epistle and a message from The Archbishop of Canterbury; Abba Seraphim also chanted the Psali Adam and gave the Final Benediction. Among the bishops present were His Eminence Archbishop Antonios (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) and His Grace Bishop Elisey (Russian Orthodox Church) whilst the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Roman Catholic Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church were represented by priests. There were also a number of Coptic Orthodox priests who participated in the service. The British Orthodox Church was also represented by Father Simon Smyth, Father Seraphim Mina, Father Peter Farrington, Deacon Mark Saunders, Deacon Christopher Barnes and a number of subdeacons, readers and laity. There was a large congregation including state and civic leaders and all present were invited to sign the Book of Condolence for His Holiness.
On 25 April, as the Coptic Orthodox Church solemnly marked the fortieth day after the death of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III with prayers throughout the world, and a Special Service in St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, the British Orthodox Church throughout the United Kingdom joined them in this solemn commemoration.
In a letter sent to His Eminence Metropolitan Pachomios, the Patriarchal locum tenens, Abba Seraphim wrote, ”As today marks the fortieth day after the death of our beloved father, Pope Shenouda III, I wanted to assure you that the clergy and people of the British Orthodox stand alongside their brethren in Egypt in prayers for his repose. He was to us a very special father when he welcomed the British Orthodox Church back to its roots in the Oriental Orthodox family of churches and gave us encouragement and support for our mission to bring the Orthodox Faith to the British people. For this reason he will always have a very special place in our hearts.
As the Church now prepares herself for the task of discerning the Lord’s will for the future and finding a new shepherd to sit upon the Throne of St. Mark, we assure you of our prayers for the heavy responsibilities you have been given, asking that Almighty God will grant you strength and wisdom in the exercise of your duties. Once again, our prayers are joined with our brethren in Egypt that the widowhood of the Church of Alexandria will not be long and that we may enjoy the blessing of a new Pope chosen by the hand of God.”
On the eve of the fortieth day, Abba Seraphim gave a special interview about Pope Shenouda, which is now available on British Orthodox TV.
London Mission opens with a baptism
The first Liturgy to be celebrated for the new British Orthodox London Mission of SS. George & Paul the Hermit was preceded by a baptism.
On 31 March at St. George-in-the-East, Shadwell, Abba Seraphim baptised, Athanasios, the infant son of Father Yonas Tesheme, one of the priests of the Eritrean Orthodox Diocese of Europe.
During the Liturgy Abba Seraphim was assisted in the sanctuary by Fathers Simon Smyth, Peter Farrington, Seraphim Mina and Yonas Tesheme with Subdeacon Michael Kennedy and Reader Daniel Malyon.
Abba Seraphim preached on a text from the Gospel of the Day, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark X: 46-52). Canon Michael Ainsworth, Rector of St. George’s, joined the congregation and Abba Seraphim publicly expressed his thanks to him and St. George’s Church Council for their hospitality. The congregation was a happy mix of British, Coptic & Eritrean Orthodox as well as visitors. Afterwards there was a lively time of fellowship with tea, coffee, biscuits and Ambasha.
Acting Armenian Patriarch to Greenwich
On 27 March Abba Seraphim was delighted to welcome His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, General Vicar (Acting Patriarch) of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople to the British Orthodox Church Secretariat at Charlton and to take him on a tour of some of the religious and historical sites of Greenwich. His Eminence was visiting London for a few days and was accompanied by Father John Whooley, with whom he was staying during his visit. Accompanied by Mr Trevor Maskery, Abba Seraphim met the Archbishop at Greenwich Pier and the party lunched together before touring Greenwich.
The first site was St. Alphege’s Parish Church, where they prayed at the memorial marking the place of the saint’s martyrdom a thousand years ago. After this they visited the Old Royal Naval College (now Greenwich University) beginning with the Painted Hall and concluding with the fine chapel, where they were received by the chaplain, Rev’d Jeremy Frost. They then drove into Greenwich Park to view the Royal Observatory and the fine views across London. After this they drove to Charlton where Abba Seraphim introduced Archbishop Aram to his three resident aquatic Van Cats: Hripsime, Shoushan and Senekerim. They later discussed matters of mutual interest, before dining together in the evening.
The British Orthodox Church and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople have long enjoyed warm relations and since the illness and incapacity of Patriarch Mesrob II, Archbishop Aram has served as Acting Patriarch. Abba Seraphim will be visiting Istanbul this summer and Archbishop Aram assured him of a warm welcomed at the Patriarchate in Kumkapi.
Father Simon lectures at Moorlands Bible College
At the request of Alistair McKitterick, Tutor and Lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies, Father Simon Smyth returned once again to Moorlands Bible College, on 21March, to give an illustrated lecture on iconography. This was the fourth time he had lectured on this subject. He was gratified to meet in reception a student who had now graduated with a First Class Honours degree present at last year’s lecture and had clearly enjoyed it, explaining that his highest mark was for the Spirituality module which included iconography.
The lecture considered many aspects of iconography including the apparent prohibition on images in the Ten Commandments. Father Simon explained that these verses in Exodus must be understood in the light and context of other Old Testament verses which showed that there were images of cherubim on the very Ark of the Covenant itself, on the veil or curtain of the Holy of Holies, on the doors, the walls, the furnishings and there were two huge cherubim in the sanctuary, then added that Orthodox Christians also love to see images or icons of angels when we worship and there was an audible intake of breath and a soft “Wow!” from one of the students at the next illustration, from the ceiling of an Ethiopian Church:
The lecture continued that Orthodox go further than the Old Testament worshippers, “we dare to depict not only the angels who worship God but even God Whom they worship…” and so began a consideration of Christology, that as God had become physical and material so physical or material icons declared and proclaimed the truth of the Incarnation.
There was a detailed analysis of a modern Coptic icon of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, explaining the significance of the halo (sign of divinity), the cross within the halo (it is the Crucified One Who is God), the Alpha and Omega, the seven-branched candlestick, the sun, moon and stars, the four incorporeal creatures, His throne heaven, the earth His footstool – and the one finger raised in blessing, one finger with three joints symbolic of the Holy Trinity, One God yet Three Persons and also symbolic of the true Christology of our Oriental Orthodox Christian Faith in the One Nature of God the Word Incarnate.
Several students commented how helpful they had found the lecture, especially the emphasis on Christology being at the heart of our Orthodox Faith, how what we believe about Christ informs what we then believe about everything else.
On 19 April, Father Peter Farrington participated in the Evangelical-Orthodox Dialogue, sponsored by the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius. The meeting took place at the Fellowship house in Oxford, adjacent to the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity and the Annunciation.
Each meeting of the Dialogue consists of a presentation on a theme of interest by alternately an Evangelical and Orthodox speaker or participant, followed by questions and discussion, a shared buffet lunch, and closing with prayer. The meeting which took place last week was concerned with the subject of mission, and an evangelical speaker, Canon Mark Oxbrow, spoke about the Evangelical understanding and practice of mission. His interesting lecture was followed by a period of honest questions and answers which did not shy away from the difficult relationship between some Evangelical mission organisations and Orthodox communities.
Father Peter greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet with Eastern Orthodox clergy and laity, as well as Evangelicals who have a commitment to dialogue with Orthodox Christians. Almost the first person that he spoke with turned out to have a background in the Plymouth Brethren, as does Father Peter. Other participants included the former principal of the bible college that Father Peter attended when he was himself an Evangelical.
The meeting was entirely positive and worthwhile, and Father Peter is looking forward to the next meeting of the Dialogue in October when an Orthodox participant will speak about mission from the Orthodox perspective.
Holy Week & Pascha
The traditional services of Holy Week and Pascha were observed by the British Orthodox churches and missions during the past week and reports indicate that they were all well supported. Father Simon Smyth reported that services were held in the three South Coast communities of Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth from Palm Sunday evening to Holy Wednesday but thereafter came together at the Church in Bournemouth for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Pascha Eve. Representing the local ‘Churches Together’ Father Robin Nash, priest in charge of St. Luke Winton, joined the local congregation for the Paschal Liturgy when he read the Pauline Epistle. On Holy Pascha, Father Simon held a forenoon service and administered Holy Communion to those who had been unable to attend the late night Liturgy, before conducting the usual Memorial prayers around the Orthodox graves in Winton Cemetery.
Abba Seraphim visited the Chatham Church on Holy Thursday, where he performed the Laquan Footwashing and celebrated the Liturgy before travelling to Babingley to preside at the Good Friday prayer and the Paschal Vigil and Liturgy, which took place at sunset, earlier than at Bournemouth, Chatham and Cusworth, which all began at 10.00 p.m. Before the Paschal Vigil Abba Seraphim baptised and chrismated Richard Tawn at St. Felix Church and, dressed in his white chrisom robe and having been given the new name of George, he was joyfully able to receive his first communion and warmly welcomed to fellowship. Abba Seraphim returned to London early on Pascha morning where he took the sacrament to Father Michael Robson at Morden College and to other elderly and sick members who had been unable to attend a liturgy the previous night.
Abba Seraphim, Father Simon Smyth, Father David Seeds and Father Peter all preached on the Resurrection during their respective liturgies but in Bournemouth and Portsmouth the local deacons also took responsibility for preaching during Holy Week. Always popular is the Good Friday Burial Service, where rose petals, herbs and spices are reverently offered by the women, who assist the clergy in preparing the cross for ‘burial’ and its transfer into the sanctuary.
The services at Chatham and Cusworth were also well supported by their local congregations and all churches reported that they were joined by other ethnic Orthodox who were unable to attend their own churches. Although refreshments were provided in all churches following the Paschal Liturgy, many also brought baskets with traditional paschal dishes to have them blessed before returning with them to their homes. Dyed and chocolate eggs were distributed among all the worshippers and always prove very popular with the children.
The fact that Holy Pascha falls within the forty days of mourning for the death of Pope Shenouda undoubtedly contributed to a reflective spirit in all the churches, and the prayers which are normally made for his life were now changed to those for his repose, but also for many this highlighted the common hope of the Resurrection which we all share and the deep joy we feel in proclaiming that Christ is Risen.
End of Bright Week celebrated in Glastonbury
To mark the end of Bright Week, Abba Seraphim celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Glastonbury Abbey on 21 April. This was held in St. Patrick’s Chapel, which was built in 1512 by Abbot Richard Bere as a chapel for the women’s almshouses contiguous to the abbey. The Chapel underwent restoration in 2009-2010 with a new stained glass window by Wayne Ricketts and murals designed by Fleur Kelly, a local artist. This was made possible by a grant of £49,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Abba Seraphim was assisted by Father Simon Smyth, who preached, Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown and Reader Daniel Malyon and those attending represented British Orthodox members from the South Coast and West Country (Bristol, Glastonbury, Portsmouth and Southampton). At the conclusion of the Liturgy Subdeacon Wulfric conducted the worshippers round the Abbey ruins briefly highlighting some of the most significant historical and architectural features.
Saint Alphege Millennium
As the British Orthodox Church Secretariat is in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Abba Seraphim was delighted to join in the celebrations of our local martyr, Saint Aphege. St. Alphege was Archbishop of Canterbury 1005-1012, having previously served as Abbot of Bath and Bishop of Winchester as a protégé of St. Dunstan. When the Vikings attacked and burned Canterbury, they took Alphege prisoner and attempted to ransom him for a huge sum of money. Declining to place his flock under this burden, he refused to be ransomed and was slaughtered during a drunken feast in the Viking encampment at Greenwich, where the parish church dedicated to him now stands.
Joining the pilgrims for a commissioning service at Southwark Cathedral at midday, led by the Bishop of Southwark (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum), Abba Seraphim and the other pilgrims set off for Greenwich during heavy rain. Accompanying the main party were the Bishop of Bergen (The Right Rev’d Halvor Nordhaug) and representatives of the Scandinavian Churches in London. At this point they were also joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury and boarded a specially chartered pilgrim boat to travel to Greenwich by water. By the time they reached Greenwich the heavy showers were subsiding and the pilgrims were met at Greenwich Pier by various civic dignitaries led by His Worship the Mayor of Greenwich (Councillor Jim Gilman).
The first stop was at St. Alphege Primary School where the pupils greeted them with heartily sung songs and the Archbishop spoke to the pupils about the message of St. Alphege. The procession formed-up led by the pupils in home-made Viking longships which the Archbishop helped to steer through the town centre to the Parish Church. Here there was an Anglo-Saxon encampment by the Regia Anglorum who greeted the pilgrims.
The festivities concluded with a Solemn Eucharist in St. Alphege’s Parish Church, at which the Archbishop presided and preached. The entire day was a very worthy commemoration of St. Alphege and brought together a diverse mix of pilgrims who had all come to honour his memory and perpetuate his message of the real worth of every human soul.
Following the successful commemoration of the Millennium of the Martyrdom of St. Alphege at Southwark and Greenwich in April, the celebrations of “Alphest 1000″, with the motto ‘Remember & Rejoice’ concluded with a National Pilgrimage to Canterbury and Ecumenical Vespers. This was held on 9 June, the day following the feast of the translation of St Alphege’s body from St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, to Canterbury. By contrast with the celebrations in April, the day was warm and sunny.
Presiding at the service was the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Rowan Williams) and Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Church Unity since 2010. At the conclusion of the service, a tribute of red roses was placed at the altar steps and the Archbishop and Cardinal lit candles in honour of St. Alphege. Abba Seraphim, Father Peter Farrington and Subdeacon Daniel Malyon from the British Orthodox Church were seated in the Presbytery, as were representatives of the Byzantine churches, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church as well as the many Anglican parishes dedicated to St. Alphege.
First ordination at London Mission
On 5 May, during the regular monthly celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the British Orthodox London Mission of SS. George & Paul the Hermit at St. George-in-the-East, Shadwell, Abba Seraphim ordained Daniel Malyon as a Subdeacon. Daniel is a member of the BOC Portsmouth Parish but whilst teaching near St. Albans, has been serving as a Reader attached to the Secretariat staff, so has been serving with Abba Seraphim at Babingley, Charlton and Shadwell. A graduate in theology, he is currently studying for his Master’s degree in Orthodox Theology at the University of Winchester.
Assisting Abba Seraphim at the Liturgy were Fathers Simon Smyth and Peter Farrington as well as Deacon Theodore de Quincey. They were joined by two of Daniel’s fellow Readers from Portsmouth, James Kelly and Anthony-Paul Holland.
Father Abraham visits BOC Secretariat
On 2 May, during a brief visit to the United Kingdom, Father Abraham Thomas, Secretary of the Department of Ecumenical Relations of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, accompanied by Father Thomas P. John, Parish Priest of St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church at Brockley, paid a fraternal call on Abba Seraphim at the Church Secretariat at Charlton. Over lunch they were able to discuss matters of common interest as well as renew an old friendship dating back to when Father Abraham served as Parish Priest in London.
Abba Seraphim meets with Mar Gregorios of Aleppo
On 26 April, Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, dined with Abba Seraphim in London. Mar Gregorios had recently attended a meeting of politicians and other leaders in Liechtenstein to explore ways of resolving the problems in Syria. As a spokesman of the Syriac Orthodox Church who has long worked for good inter-communal relations, he is anxious to explore all peaceful options. Both hierarchs, who have been friends for a number of years, were able to share their insights into current political and religious developments in the Middle East as well as discussing issues of common interest, including research into church history.
Colloquium on Indian Christianity
London’s Warburg Institute hosted a lively colloquium on Indian Christianity 25 & 26 April under the title “Apostles and Heresiarchs. Representations of Early Christianity in 16th-17th Century India.” Abba Seraphim was among those who attended to listen to a number of scholars examine the crucial period when, in the wake of Portuguese colonialism, the Synod of Diamper (1599) subjugated the ancient Church of Malabar to the See of Rome. Of foremost interest was the evidence of the survival of a significant number of ancient theological and liturgical texts, previously believed to have been destroyed. Professor Istvan Perczel of Budapest,who has been among a dedicated team who have collected, digitalised and catalogued over 1000 Syriac and Garshuni Malayalam manuscripts, spoke about the significance of these. Later papers on Portuguese missionary activities, and the interrelationship of the local and Portuguese clergy, provided deeper understanding on not just the theological and personal issues of the time but also economic and cultural factors.
Father Seraphim Mina to become General Priest
Through his work with the Barnabas Fund, Father Seraphim Mina works closely with a number of Egyptian dioceses and has often assisted in ministering to Arabic-speaking Copts outside the United Kingdom as well as assisting at a number of Coptic Churches in Britain. Feeling himself called to develop this ministry further, he discussed with both Abba Seraphim and Metropolitan Pachomios, the locum tenens, the possibility of transferring from the British Orthodox Church to become a General Priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Abba Seraphim stated that he was very happy to bless him to do this as he believes it will provide him with a much better opportunity for service and a fuller ministry and he told Metropolitan Pachomios that during his time with the British Orthodox Church Father Seraphim has been a very faithful and good priest and the people love him a lot. “He has a deep pastoral heart and his gentle love for the people helps to draw many to God; whilst the wide experience he has gained in many spheres has given him wisdom and good judgement.” Abba Seraphim noted that Father Seraphim came originally from the Coptic Church (having served with H.G. Bishop David in America), so the British Orthodox Church was simply returning him back with gratitude for the work he had done with us. Pope Shenouda always explained that the British and the Coptic Orthodox was one church; and the ties of respect and affection which have been forged with Father Seraphim throughout this time will endure. In reply Metropolitan Pachomios wrote that he was very thankful to Abba Seraphim for his expression of love and co-operation in the Church and prayed that the Lord would bless his activities for His glory. On 6 June Abba Seraphim duly signed the Canonical Release and Letters Commendatory commending Father Seraphim to the pastoral oversight of Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Church.
British Orthodox Synod Statement on the Papal Election
A Statement from the Clergy Synod of the Diocese of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate on the selection of the Patriarch of Alexandria.
At the Clergy Synod of the British Orthodox Church held on Wednesday 30th May 2012, at the Church Secretariat in London, under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury, the members of the Synod considered with great care and attention the statement issued by His Grace Bishop Serapion, of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii, together with his Clergy Synod, meeting on Thursday 3rd May and Tuesday 8th May, 2012 and concerning the selection of diocesan bishops as candidates for election as the Patriarch of Alexandria.
The Synod, finding itself in complete agreement with the explanation of the canons and traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate found in the statement issued by the Diocese of Los Angeles, wishes to express its own view that the canons and traditions lead us to understand that the translation of a diocesan bishop to the Patriarchate of Alexandria should be avoided outside of the most serious circumstances, and that the present election does not represent such a serious circumstance.
It is therefore our humble and respectful opinion that a diocesan bishop should not be considered for election to the Patriarchate of Alexandria at this time.
We pray for the peace of the Church and that the Lord may repose the soul of our beloved father, the thrice-blessed Pope Abba Shenouda III, with his saints, and to appoint for us a shepherd who will attend to His people in purity and righteousness.
Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of H.M. The Queenm
The British Orthodox Church has marked the Diamond Jubilee of H.M. The Queen with a special thanksgiving prayer used in all its churches and missions,
“Almighty God, who rulest over all the kingdoms of the world, and dost order them according to thy good pleasure: We yield Thee unfeigned thanks, for that Thou wast pleased, as at this time, to set Thy Servant our Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH, upon the Throne of this Realm. Let Thy wisdom be her guide, and let Thine arm strengthen her; let truth and justice, holiness and righteousness, peace and charity, abound in her days; direct all her counsels and endeavours to Thy glory, and the welfare of her subjects; give us grace to obey her cheerfully for conscience sake, and let her always possess the hearts of her people; let her reign be long and prosperous, and crown her with everlasting life in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
At its recent meeting, the Synod of the British Orthodox Church also sent a Loyal Address to Her Majesty:
“We, Your Majesty’s faithful subjects, the Metropolitan and Priests, together with the officers of the British Orthodox Church, assembled in Synod in London on this thirtieth day of May, in the Year of our Lord 2012, desire to assure Your Majesty of our loyalty and devotion to Your Person and to Your Throne on the occasion of the national celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Your Majesty’s Accession.
Throughout these sixty years Your Majesty has maintained a steadfast witness to the Christian Faith as well as setting us all an admirable example of fidelity to the precepts of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The support and encouragement shown by Your Majesty for the diverse pastoral and charitable activities undertaken by the churches has provided a constant and powerful witness in a changing society which has edified and encouraged us all.
Your Majesty’s example of self-sacrifice, lifelong commitment to the service of the common good and unwavering witness to the abiding significance of spiritual values has strengthened the witness of all Christians as they endeavour to show the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world in which they live.
The British Orthodox Church, having the privilege to worship in St. Felix Chapel at Babingley, a property on the Sandringham Estate, which Your Majesty has graciously permitted us to use for our worship since 2001, has an especial reason to be grateful for Your Majesty’s support and munificence.
In all the liturgical services of the British Orthodox Church it has been our joyful duty to pray for Your Majesty and all the Reigning House but it is with heartfelt devotion that our congregations throughout the United Kingdom now celebrate with special thanksgiving this auspicious anniversary, continuing to beseech Almighty God to grant health, happiness and Many Years to Your Majesty, to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and all the Royal Family.
Metropolitan of Glastonbury
Hegoumenos Simon Smyth
Chairman of the Priests’ Council
Father Peter Farrington
Secretary of the British Orthodox Synod”
In response to a congratulatory message sent to H.M. The Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, Her Majesty sent the following reply to Abba Seraphim:
I send my grateful thanks to the Metropolitan, Priests and Officers of the British Orthodox Church, for their kind message of congratulations, sent on the occasion of the Sixtieth Anniversary of my Accession to the Throne.
In return, please accept my good wishes for a most memorable and enjoyable Diamond Jubilee Year.
5 July 2012
Ten Years is Too Long
On 17 May, what has sadly become the annual Protest Vigil at the Eritrean Embassy in Islington, London , appropriately took as its motto, “Ten Years is too long.” As on previous occasions the protesters took up their position on the pavement opposite the embassy. They represented a wide rank of Christian denominations as well as of several human rights groups (Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International, Release Eritrea, Church on Chains, Human Rights Concern Eritrea) who came together to pray for the persecuted Christians of Eritrea and their government. A large number of the banners portrayed His Holiness Abune Antonios, the imprisoned Patriarch of Eritrea. Abba Seraphim was joined by the Bishop of Southwark (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum), Father Yonas Tesheme (Sheffield) and Deacon Joannes Gebrehiwet (Manchester) with a number of other deacons representing the Eritrean Orthodox Diocese of Europe. Speakers and Prayers were led by Abba Seraphim, Andy Dipper (Release International), Dr. Berhane Ashmelesh (Release Eritrea), David Turner (Church in Chains), Elsa Chyrum (Human Rights Concern Eritrea), Selam Kidane (Release Eritrea), Dr. Khataza Gondwe (CSW). At the end of the vigil a letter, signed on behalf of the whole group by Abba Seraphim and Bishop Christopher, was delivered to the Ambassador. The two bishops and Dr. Berhane were kept waiting at the door and when the Metropolitan Police tried to find an Embassy official to whom they could deliver it, they were at first ignored and then rudely shouted at and told to go away. Eventually the police delivered the letter on their behalf.
Bishop Makarios visits the Eritrean Community in UK
During a visit to the clergy and faithful of the new Eritrean Orthodox Diocese of Europe in the UK, His Grace met with Abba Seraphim in London. On 12 June following pastoral visits to his communities in Manchester and Birmingham, Bishop Makarios was greeted at Euston Station by Abba Seraphim who accompanied him to Southwark Cathedral, where they were welcomed by the Bishop of Southwark (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum). Accompanying Bishop Makarios were Father Teklemariam (Frankfurt) the likekahnat (hegumen) of the European diocese, Father Habtom Ftuwi (Manchester), Deacon John Gebrehewit (Manchester), Deacon Teklit Eyob (London), Deacon Habtom Tesfahuney (Birmingham) and Deacon Robel Fessahaye (Birmingham). After showing them some of the highlights of Southwark Cathedral, Bishop Christopher entertained his visitors to tea and discussed the issues related to the current situation of Christians in Eritrea. After an exchange of gifts, prayers were said for Eritrea and especially Patriarch Antonios in his imprisonment. The two bishops and their party joined Bishop Christopher at Choral Evensong, which was led by Canon Paul Saunders, the Sub-Deacon & Canon Pastor.
In the evening Abba Seraphim entertained Bishop Makarios and his clergy to supper at the Church Secretariat at Charlton, where they were joined by Subdeacon Daniel Malyon and James Carr. Bishop Makarios stayed overnight at the Secretariat.
On 13 June Abba Seraphim and Bishop Makarios and his party visited the Old Naval College at Greenwich, where they viewed the Painted Hall and the Chapel and were received by the Rev’d Jeremy Frost, the chaplain. In the afternoon they visited St. John’s Church, Walham Green, Fulham, where they were welcomed by Father Mark Osborne, the priest-in-charge. On Saturday, 16 June Bishop Makarios inaugurated Eritrean Orthodox worship in this church with a service commemorating Eritreans who have died in recent wars.
Bishop Makarios’s visit followed his attendance at recent meetings of the Holy Synod in Cairo where he was recognised as the sole canonical representative of the Eritrean diaspora rather than the government controlled hierarchy in Asmara.
2012 Glastonbury Pilgrimage
After a pause last year, the Glastonbury Pilgrimage resumed its annual commemoration at Glastonbury Abbey this year on 16 June. Abba Seraphim was the Orthodox celebrant in the morning in the abbey’s undercroft, assisted by Father Simon Smyth, Deacon John Stuart, Subdeacons Paul Ashdown and Daniel Malyon and Readers Anthony-Paul Holland and James Kelly.
Although the weather was blustery and threatening, the rain providentially held off and did not disrupt any of the pilgrimage. The Anglican Liturgy followed the Orthodox Liturgy at noon. The principal celebrant was the Bishop of Beverley (The Right Rev’d Martyn Jarrett) and the preacher was the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (The Right Rev’d Jonathan Baker) who preached an eirenic sermon about our Lord’s kingship, rich in patristic as well as historical references to St. Dunstan and the English coronation service. At its conclusion the Bishop of Plymouth (The Right Revd John Ford), who is also of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association, specifically welcomed Abba Seraphim and his clergy. After lunch Abba Seraphim and his clergy joined in the Procession of Witness through the centre of Glastonbury.
Ordinations at Bournemouth
During his recent visit to the Bournemouth Parish of Christ the Saviour on 1 July, Abba Seraphim ordained two new subdeacons for the Portsmouth Parish, James Anthony Kelly and Anthony-Paul Holland. During the Liturgy Abba Seraphim was assisted by Father Simon Smyth and Subdeacon Daniel Malyon. Preaching to a full church on the Sunday Gospel (Luke X: 1-20) he draw parallels between our Lord’s commission to the LXX and the present mission of the church. Following the Liturgy Abba Seraphim chaired a parish meeting to explain the electoral process for choosing a new Pope & Patriarch, answered questions from the congregation and passed on Metropolitan Bakhomios’s invitation to all church members to express their opinion on the selection of the future patriarch.
Abba Seraphim was pleased to welcome to Bournemouth, Archimandrite Deiniol of the Wales Orthodox Mission of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who attended the Divine Liturgy. Afterwards Fr. Deiniol was able to chat to most of the people present.
Britain & the Early Church
Abba Seraphim was among a number of distinguished speakers at a day conference entitled, “Britain and the Early Church. Exploring the origins of British Christianity”, presented under the auspices of the Fellowship of Saint Alban & St. Sergius. The lectures were held at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton in 14 July. A number of Orthodox jurisdictions were represented: Father Chrysostom MacDonnell (Antiochian Orthodox Deanery) spoke on “After the Romans Left”, tracing the cultural and religious growth of the Insular Church; Father John Nankivell (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira) led a discussion exposing the ‘myth’ of Celtic Christianity whilst Father Andrew Phillips (Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia) gave an extensive historical overview in ”The Saints of the Isles and the Isles of the Saints.” Academic contributions were made by Professor Paul Cavill of the University of Nottingham, who spoke on the “Veneration of the Cross in England” from its Constantinian origins; whilst Professor Michelle Brown of the University of London highlighted many exciting discoveries about cross-cultural links from ancient manuscripts. Abba Seraphim concluded with a talk, “Alter Orbis: British Christianity & the Roman Imperium.” In his welcome to those attending, Father Stephen Platt, General Secretary of the Fellowship, commended Angelos Stanway, who had planned and organised the day single-handedly. Members of the British Orthodox Parish at Portsmouth and Southampton Mission showed their support by attending.
Half-Yearly Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Forum meets
On 16 July the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum held its half-yearly meeting at St. John’s Church, Notting Hill. Chaired jointly by The Right Rev’d Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Europe, and His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church. This meeting had a very good attendance with the Anglican Bishops of Southwark and Reading also present as well as Metropolitan Seraphim (British Orthodox Church), Archbishop Athanasios Dawood (Syriac Orthodox Church) and Bishop Mathews Mar Thimothios (Malankara Orthodox Church) as well as other Anglican and Oriental Orthodox clergy who are members of the Forum. The Revd Roger Paul, National Adviser (Unity-in-Mission), Council for Christian Unity, spoke to the Forum about the role of the CCU and its relationship with AOORF. The main body of the meeting comprised detailed reports on the current situation of all the member churches with particular consideration of events in Egypt and Syria, as well as a report on the recent meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England.
Abba Seraphim visits Armenian Patriarchate
On 26 July Abba Seraphim visited His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, General Vicar (Acting Patriarch) of the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople at the Patriarchate in Kumkapi, Istanbul, accompanied by Mr. Trevor Maskery and Archimandrite Deiniol of the Wales Orthodox Mission, who was visiting the city at the same time. This was in return for Archbishop Aram’s visit to the British Orthodox Secretariat at Charlton in March. They were able to discuss a number of matters of common interest, including the progress of the Papal election and the current health of His Beatitude Patriarch Mesrob II, who since 2008 has been suffering from Frontal temporal degenerative dementia and has been unable to exercise his office. His physical and mental situation have steadily deteriorated and he is now being cared for at Surp Pirgic Armenian Hospital in Yedikule.
On Sunday, 29 July Abba Seraphim accompanied Archbishop Aram to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Surp Yerits Mangants (Three Holy Youths) Armenian Church at Boyacikoy and afterwards lunched with members of the congregation in their recently renovated church on the Bosphorus.
Oecumenical Patriarch receives Abba Seraphim at the Phanar
On 30 July His All-Holiness the Oecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomaeus I, received Abba Seraphim at the Phanar, accompanied by Mr. Trevor Maskery and Archimandrite Deiniol of the Wales Orthodox Mission within the Oecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch expressed himself very happy to see Abba Seraphim again and gently reproved him for having not visited Constantinople for a number of years. During their meeting they were able to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest.
At the Patriarch’s invitation Abba Seraphim and his companions were invited to join him and members of the Holy Synod for lunch, after which they continued their conversation in the Throne Room of the Phanar. During his time at the Phanar Abba Seraphim also visited the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
As one of their Lenten speakers, the chaplaincy of Morden College, Blackheath, invited Abba Seraphim to reflect on the current situation 0f Christians in the Middle East. Addressing a large audience on 8 March, Abba Seraphim outlined the problems of Christians in Iraq, Syria and Egypt since the Millennium and took the decline in the historic Christian communities in Iraq as a warning to the Christian world of how fragile they have now become. The problems faced by each country were each quite distinctive and owed much to their respective histories since the break up of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of militant fundamentalists. He emphasised the significance of Egypt, with the largest Christian community in the Middle East and the dynamic life of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the face of continuing sectarian attacks. Following a number of thoughtful questions from the audience, the Rev’d Nick Woodcock, chaplain, invited Abba Seraphim to lead the audience in prayer for the Christians of the Middle East.
On 15 July, Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Subdeacon Wulfric (Paul) Ashdown and Trevor Maskery, attended the morning Eucharist at St. George-in-the-East, Shadwell, to celebrate the anniversary of the church’s dedication in 1729. It also provided a suitable opportunity for members of the local congregation to meet representatives of the British Orthodox Church, who have been worshipping at their church for the past few months. Apart from a formal welcome from Canon Michael Ainsworth, the Rector, they were warmly greeted by all present and afterwards participated in a festive barbecue in the Rectory Garden, where they were later joined by the Archdeacon of Hackney (The Venerable Rachel Treweek) who expressed her delight that the Orthodox London Mission was worshipping at St. George’s Church and the Rev’d Janina Ainsworth, (also the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer), who had officiated at the morning service. After many months of uncertain weather and heavy rain, the weather remained dry and, as it was St. Swithun’s day, the hope was expressed that if it held off the old legend of 40 days of dry weather might ensue. It also being Trevor Maskery’s birthday, Father Michael very kindly had the church tower opened for him so that his wish to climb it might be granted. In this he was joined by Abba Seraphim and Subdeacon Wulfric.
Abba Seraphim was once again a guest at the annual garden party held at Morden College, Blackheath, on 16 July. This gathering of friends of the residents and those closely associated with the work of the College usually serves as an Open Day for the College’s beautiful gardens and historic building, but the intermittent rain which has characterised this summer meant that people stayed in the large marquee, where they were entertained to a lavish tea and music played by the band, resplendent in scarlet uniforms at which the Lord Mayor of London was an honoured guest. It is always a convivial gathering and characterised by the warm welcome accorded to visitors as well as the care and respect shown to the residents. Father Michael Robson was on good form and Abba Seraphim sat on the Chaplain’s table along with a number of other clergy friends of the College.