Here, there and everywhere
News of the Church from divers Quarters
Part 1: The British Orthodox Church
On 8 February 2015 Anthony John Holland was ordained a Deacon at Church of Christ the Saviour, Winton, Bournemouth, Dorset, at the hands of Abba Seraphim. Deacon Antony will continue to serve the British Orthodox communities in Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton.
Stand in Solidarity for Iraqui Christians
Following reports of the threats against Christians in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which has led to their flight from a city with a continuous Christian presence for more than 1,600 years; the Iraqui Christian community in the UK organised a demonstration outside Parliament on 26 July. Among its leaders were His Eminence Archbishop Mar Athanasius Touma, Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar for the United Kingdom; Mgr. Nizar Semaan of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Archdeacon Yonan Yonan of the Assyian Church of the East. They were joined by clergy of many other churches, including Abba Seraphim and the Suffragen Bishop of Warwick and some Muslim leaders anxious to stand in solidarity with their suffering brethren. Following similar demonstrations in the Middle East this past week, several Muslim speakers declared, “I am Iraqi, I am Christian” After several speeches addressing the large crowd which filled Old Palace Yard opposite the Victoria Tower at Westminster, the clergy processed to Downing Street, where the leaders presented an appeal for support to the Prime Minister.
Orthodox Way of Prayer in Farnham
In the prayerful setting of St Peter’s Church of England, Wrecclesham, Farnham, the Orthodox Way of Prayer ecumenical study day was presented on 26 July for the second time by Father Peter Farrington. The beautiful little Church was made available to us thanks to the hospitality of the Revd, Anne Gell, Dean of Farnham, and the other clergy and people of St Peter’s.
The study day began with Morning Prayer from the Daily Office of the British Orthodox Church, our edition of the Agpeya of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. A series of short talks complemented by discussion and the practical experience of prayer led the participants through a reflection of some aspects of Orthodox spirituality. These included: What is Prayer? The Prayer of the Heart, Praying with Icons, and Developing a Prayer Rule.
A buffet lunch was provided for those attending the event, which gave an opportunity for warm and friendly conversations and Christian fellowship. Chris Hunter and Bronwyn Holder are to be commended for the efforts they put into making the day a success and their constant attention to the practical details of the event. It was a wonderful surprise to be able to welcome Father Simon and Sheila Smyth who supported the day and who helped to bear witness to our British Orthodoxy in all their conversations with the other participants.
The day concluded with Afternoon Prayer from the Daily Office of the British Orthodox Church. Everyone who attended seemed to have appreciated the opportunity to spend a day in thoughtful consideration of the spirituality of the Orthodox Church. This is the first activity of the British Orthodox Church in Farnham and has hopefully served as a useful introduction to our community and our mission among the people of our own British Isles.
Sponsored 24 hour fast on behalf of Syrian people
The needs of the suffering people of Syria and Iraq are present in the hearts and minds of all of us within the British Orthodox Church, together with a sense of impotence and futility. This was certainly the feeling which was uppermost in the thoughts of Father Peter Farrington this last week as more and more horrendous images were revealed on the internet of the plight of those caught up in so much violence and hatred.
The off-hand comment of a friend provoked Father Peter to consider if there was anything at all which he could do to make even the smallest difference. There was little scope for action, especially in the short-term, but it came to mind that at least he could engage in a 24 hour fast and seek sponsorship from those who shared his concern but needed a small encouragement to act.
With that in mind Father Peter created a campaign on the Just Giving website, which takes care of all of the practicalities, and decided to support the agency Hand in Hand for Syria. This smaller organisation works directly in Syria itself and offers support to those hardest hit by the conflict. It provides medical, food, education, hygiene and community aid.
This was intended to be a very immediate fund-raising activity and it was created on Thursday evening with a view to lasting throughout Friday. With such a short-term focus Father Peter had decided that a fund-raising target of £250 would be challenging enough. In fact, thanks to the generosity of many donors from around the world, the fund-raising effort was able to generate more than four times that target, and at the end of the 24 hour period of fasting Father Peter was grateful to have received support equalling £1,095.
This unexpected amount is already available to Hand in Hand for Syria through the agency of the Just Giving website.
Father Peter says, “I am aware that I have not done very much at all. But this has been an opportunity to allow concerned Christians around the world to find a way of doing something. It is those who have made their own contributions who have achieved something important”.
Abba Seraphim visits Cusworth Church
Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Deacon Daniel Malyon and Subdeacon Trevor Maskery, visited the Church and congregation at Cusworth for the weekend of Saturday & Sunday, 30 & 31 August. After the Raising of Evening Incense on Saturday evening he dined with Father David Seeds and the clergy at Sprotbrough. The following morning they were joined by Father Peter Farrington, Archdeacon Alexander Astill and members of the Stoke Mission for the Sunday morning Liturgy. During the service Abba Seraphim presented Father David with a relic of Saint Hubert, Bishop of Liege (c. 656-727), one of the local church’s patrons. This was a gift of an anonymous donor and was rescued from his shrine in the Benedictine Abbey of Amdagion (now St. Hubertus) in Belgium, when his relics “disappeared” at the Reformation. A parish luncheon in the Battie-Wrightson Memorial Hall followed after the service, during which Abba Seraphim spoke on “British Orthodoxy.”
Church Leaders gather at Lambeth to pray for the Middle East
On 3 September, following the initiative of His Grace Bishop Angaelos, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury invited leaders and representatives of the Middle East Churches in the UK to gather “in Solidarity with Christians in the Middle East: Rejoicing in their Faith and Sharing in their Collective Pain”at Lambeth Palace on 3 September. There was an impressive array of Orthodox and Middle Eastern clergy, including Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira (Ecumenical Patriarchate), Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate), Archbishop Athanasius Thoma Dawod of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Seraphim (British Orthodox Church), Bishop Angaelos (Coptic Orthodox Church), the Anglican Bishops of London, Southwark, Coventry and Warwick, Bishop Geoffrey Rowell (as co-chair of the Anglican-Orthodox International Commission), as well as representatives of the Syrian Catholic Church, the Chaldean Church, the Ancient Church of the East, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the Melkite Church, the Maronite Church, and the Catholic Church and others groups working for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. After welcoming all present, the Archbishop chaired a ‘Round Table Meeting’ at which those present were invited to comment or share information, which lasted about ninety minutes. This was followed by a Service of Prayer in the Crypt Chapel, comprising scriptural readings as well as extracts from the writings of St. Isaac of Nineveh and St. Ephrem the Syrian and Psalm CXLII (Septuagint CXLI). The hymns included St. Patrick’s Lorica and St. Bernard of Cluny’s “Jerusalem the Golden” from his De Contemptu Mundi, which seemed especially apposite for the occasion. At the conclusion the Archbishop and congregation met with the Press and the Archbishop issued a consensual statement on behalf of all present.
Farewell to Father Michael Ainsworth
Father Michael Ainsworth, Rector of St. George-in-the-East Church at Shadwell for the past seven years, decided to mark his retirement on 28 September with a traditional Anglican Evensong for Michaelmas, the feast of his patron, to which members of his congregation were invited as well as clergy and friends from neighbouring parishes and across the ecumenical spectrum. As ‘tenants’ of the Church, the British Orthodox London Mission was also anxious to share in the fond farewell of a priest they have come to respect and love and Abba Seraphim attended with some of his Orthodox parishioners. During the three years during which there has been Orthodox worship in his church, Father Michael has attended many liturgies and, afterwards, shared the antidoran he has received with his own congregation the next morning. In recognition of this symbolic fellowship, Abba Seraphim baked a traditional Coptic Archangel Michael bread and presented it to Father Michael, who immediately placed it with the celebratory food marking his retirement. Father Michael and his wife, Janina, will be returning to their northern roots when Janina becomes Rector of St. Maxentius, Bradshaw, in Bolton.
Deacon Daniel awarded M.Th.
On 14 October, Deacon Daniel Malyon graduated with a master’s degree in theology (Orthodox Studies) from Winchester University. The ceremony was held at Winchester Cathedral, a fitting place for the event, with its history back to early monastic settlements in Pre-Norman Wessex. Deacon Daniel’s studies began in 2011, as part of a part-time distance course run by Father Andreas Andreopoulos, who heads the Orthodox Studies programme at the University. His studies consisted of modules pertaining to Monasticism, Iconology, Mystic Theology, Canon Law and Mariology. As a dissertation, Deacon Daniel wrote a paper in the History of Papal Election in the Coptic Orthodox Church, examining specifically factors which influenced the system over time; a study which he intends to develop and publish in coming years.
Father Peter Farrington in the Diocese of Milan
Throughout the month of October, Father Peter Farrington has been serving in the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Milan with the blessing of Metropolitan Seraphim. His Grace Bishop Kyrillos of Milan has already welcomed Metropolitan Seraphim to Italy on several occasions, and most recently earlier this year when he visited the diocese with three of the British Orthodox priests, Father Simon Smyth, Father David Seeds and Father Peter Farrington. Bishop Kyrillos had himself visited the UK to attend the 20th Anniversary Liturgy of the union of the British Orthodox Church with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, bringing with him the greetings and blessing of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.
Anba Kyrillos invited Metropolitan Seraphim to allow Father Peter to attend and speak at a Coptic Orthodox Missions Conference in Venice at the beginning of the month, with the intention that he then remain in Italy, staying at the monastery of St Shenouda, where he would provide a course of instruction to the priests and monks of the diocese in Theology.
Father Peter flew out to Italy from Gatwick airport at the end of September, being greeted at Milan Linate airport by Father Zaccaria and Father Bishoy of the Milan diocese. He traveled with them the thirty minutes to the Monastery of St Shenouda, where he began his visit by praying in one of the four churches in the monastic complex, before greeting Anba Kyrillos and offering the best wishes of Metropolitan Seraphim. There were already a number of visitors from Egypt staying at the monastery and intending to travel to the Coptic Orthodox Missions Conference the next day. Father Peter spent some time describing the life and mission of the British Orthodox Church with them, and answering many questions.
After an evening meal with Anba Kyrillos and Father Bishoy, Father Peter was taken to a local hotel where he spent the night. The next morning he was collected by one of the local Coptic Orthodox community and driven the short distance back to the monastery. A coach soon arrived and Father Peter found himself travelling with a large group of participants, towards the Catholic retreat centre on the edge of Venice, where the Coptic Orthodox Missions Conference was to take place.
The journey to Venice was over three hours of motorway driving, and half way to Venice a second coach joined us, containing Father Daoud Lamie and many other participants from Egypt. For an hour or so Father Peter was asked questions about the British Orthodox Church and responded using the microphone and loudspeaker at the front of the coach. Then, after a brief stop for refreshments, he joined the other coach and answered many of the same questions to another audience.
The coaches finally arrived at their destination towards evening, as the light began to fade. A simple dinner was served in the refectory, and then the first session took place in the main meeting room. The Conference took place from Wednesday evening until the following Monday lunchtime. Each day there were lectures on a variety of subjects, presentations from those working in various countries and engaged in Orthodox mission, as well as daily opportunities for liturgical worship, including the Liturgy itself celebrated each morning, and the Midnight Praises offered each evening. There were also various workshops and recreational activities organized throughout the week, including a wonderful boat trip to Venice itself, and prayers offered before the shrines of St Mark and St Athanasius.
One surprise was discovered on waking on Thursday morning. Pulling back the curtains of his room Father Peter was astonished to discover an uninterrupted view of the sea, and that the retreat centre was on the edge of the beach itself. A paved path through an attractive avenue of trees led on to the beach, where a stone jetty stretched out into the sea.
During the four full days of the conference Anba Kyrillos was able to attend from time to time, and was clearly much loved and respected by all those of his children in Italy who attended the conference. He celebrated the Liturgy on several occasions, and in his absence Father Daoud Lamie was the guiding force behind all the conference activities. Father Peter was warmly welcomed and always included fully in both the liturgical and conference events.
Father Peter spoke to the conference delegates on two occasions. He described the mission and vision of the British Orthodox Church, and he also addressed the issue of conducting Orthodox mission in Europe. His contributions were received with much enthusiasm. Many others presented the Coptic Orthodox missionary activities taking place in 25 countries in Africa and Asia. It is clear that over the last five years, and as a development of the social and pastoral ministries being conducted under the leadership of Father Daoud in Egypt, a missionary ministry has also been slowly being formed. Each presentation would include information about the social and religious situation in the country being described, about the ministry being conducted and the plans for further development.
This missionary organization is still in its first stages. But already there is a structure which supports those working in these countries and encourages regular visits by groups of Orthodox Christians to work with those living in these mission centres. Father Peter was especially pleased to meet Father Solomon and Maro, his wife, who are working in Ghana. But there were also those present who were working in many other countries, or supporting those who were active there.
Each evening many of those present, from a wide age range, would gather to listen and to discuss aspects of the Christian life and of mission. It was a blessing for Father Peter to be included in all of these activities and to sit with Father Daoud Lamie, late into the night, surrounded by such dedicated Orthodox Christians.
The visit to Venice was of course a highlight of the conference. It included a boat trip from Jesolo, where the retreat centre was located, to St Mark’s Square itself, where the ferry docked. Father Peter prayed at the relics of St Athanasius, and joined the large group of conference participants in prayer before the shrine of St Mark.
On the last day of the conference the party from Egypt headed for the airport, or to a variety of European destinations, while Father Peter and many of the Italian participants headed back to Milan and the Monastery of St Shenouda. Father Peter recognised the importance of this conference, not only for the development of missionary ministry in the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, but also because of the contacts which have now been created and which are already bearing fruit in future possibilities of service.
As Father Peter arrived back at the monastery a second phase of his service in Italy now opened up. He was to spend several weeks with the priests and brothers of the monastery and the wider Diocese of Milan, providing a course of theological education which the fathers would attend each weekday. Father Peter had prepared many hours of material but almost immediately it became clear that the complexities of language, with fathers using Arabic and Italian, but being less fluent in English, meant that a new curriculum would have to be created as the days progressed.
Over the next weeks Father Peter developed a variety of materials which included simple lecture notes, bible study and discussion, to ensure that there was as much participation as possible. A wide variety of theological topics were considered, and most teaching was given spontaneously rather than with the detailed lecture texts that Father Peter usually prefers. In fact throughout his service in Venice and Milan, Father Peter was forced to rely on speaking without notes.
Father Peter was resident in a comfortable room in the monastery. This allowed him quiet and space to prepare PowerPoint slides for each day’s studies. But he was also able to visit several of the churches in the Diocese of Milan. He addressed two youth groups, speaking about prayer and the object of the Christan life. His words were translated by young Orthodox girls who performed excellently on each occasion. The youth were attentive and asked very good questions after each talk.
Each morning at the monastery Father Peter participated in the Liturgy, and after a few days Father Abraam, one of the monks, was assigned to pray with him and to teach Father Peter the Liturgy of St Basil in English. The opportunity to pray the Liturgy each day for such an extended period was a great blessing. Father Abraam was a patient teacher, and had just completed the liturgical training of the four newest priests in the Diocese.
The unfeigned warmth and affection which all the priests and monks showed to Father Peter was a great encouragement. Indeed the love they show each other and that which their bishop, Anba Kyrillos, shows to all, is the foundation of the life of this Diocese. The monastery was also home at present to several priests and their young families so that it had the character of a Christian community. It was a blessing for Father Peter to sit at the table and share food with monks and priests, with priest’s wives, and with young children, all gathered together in love. Indeed Father Peter learned most Italian from the six year old son of one priest, who seemed to know intuitively what Father Peter was trying to say and learn to say when he pointed at something.
As this period of extended ministry abroad came to an end it was with a strong sense of having been among those who were and remain family in Christ. There were many warm hugs and an invitation to return soon and continue the theological education programme. Father Peter returned home, tired but encouraged. There is an open invitation for many of our British Orthodox friends and family to visit the monastery next year. As God wills, many of us may discover the warmth of welcome to be found there.
Russian Parish History – Book Launch
To mark the publication of Embassy, Emigrants, and Englishmen. The three Hundred Year History of a Russian Orthodox Church in London, a reception was held on the evening of Tuesday, 4 November, 2014. The publishers of the book, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, USA, and the Cathedral parish of the London Russian Orthodox Church Abroad hosted the reception.
The Book Launch was a unique occasion, being held in the former Russian Imperial Embassy Chapel, dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, in Welbeck Street, London. The occasion was marked by the prayerful chanting of ‘Heavenly King’ at the commencement, and by the chanting of ‘It is meet and right’ at the conclusion – almost certainly the first time Russian Orthodox chanting had been heard in the Chapel since its closure in 1923.
Speakers at the reception included His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain; His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia; Reader Nicholas Chapman, Managing Director of HTM Publications; Deacon Peter Markevitch, Marketing Manager of HTM Publications; and Reader Nicolas Mabin of the London Cathedral parish. Unfortunately, the author of the book, Protodeacon Christopher Birchall, who now lives in Vancouver, Canada, was unable to attend the reception due to ill health.
Honoured guests included: Archpriest Maxim Nikolsky, representing His Eminence, Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate); Deacon Meliton Oakes, representing His Eminence Archbishop Gregory of Thyateira; Archpriest Thomas Hardy, Archpriest Peter Baulk, Archpriest Andrew Philips, and Priest Vitaly Serapinas (ROCOR); Archpriest Stephen Platt for the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius; the Most Reverend Metropolitan Seraphim (British Orthodox Church: Coptic Patriarchate); the Right Reverend Bishop Richard Chartres of London (Church of England); Archpriest John Salter (Melkite Greek Catholic Church); the Revd. Dr William Taylor (Anglican & Eastern Churches Association); the Revd. Father Mark Woodruff (Society of Saint John Chrysostom); Count Nikolai Tolstoy-Miloslavsky; Count Andrei Tolstoy-Miloslavsky; Counsellor Artem Kozhin (Embassy of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom); and Richard Bowden of the Howard de Walden Estate.
Abba Seraphim, who had last visited the former chapel some 45 years ago when it was owned by the Institute of Radiology, expressed the view that it was utterly appropriate to launch this excellent book here. “Protodeacon Christopher has written a brilliant book, the very model of how such histories should be written and we owe him a great debt for having persevered over many years to bring it to fruition.”
British Orthodox Clergy speak at Moorland’s College
At the invitation of Alistair McKitterick, Tutor and Lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies, two British Orthodox priests delivered lectures this month to students at Moorlands Bible College, Sopley, Christchurch, Hampshire. On 5 November Father Peter Farrington lectured on prayer and one week later, 12 November, Father Simon Smyth gave a richly illustrated presentation on icons.
Introducing himself as both a former Moorlands student (from the late ‘eighties) and a former evangelical Christian enabled his evangelical audience to more easily relate to Father Peter and more easily identify with his lecture. Referring to the teaching of Evagrius that if “you are a theologian you truly pray” and if “you truly pray you are a theologian” Father Peter emphasised the importance of knowing God through the encounter in prayer rather than academically knowing things about God. The lecture ranged through Saints Cyril of Jerusalem, John Cassian, John Chrysostom, Moses the Black and others, referring also to the contemporary Orthodox writings of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. Father Peter was careful to emphasise the apophatic approach and how closer encounters with God in prayer contrast with the modern tendency to almost analyse or understand God. In a wide ranging talk Father Peter also spoke on the importance of fasting and, of course, the Jesus Prayer.
Father Simon gave his presentation on icons at Moorlands for the fifth time (first visiting the college in 2009). The classic text of Saint John of Damascus was discussed and the Incarnation emphasised again and again as the requirement for icons: the “very heart of Christianity is Christ, God incarnate, God made flesh…. To see Jesus is to see the (otherwise) invisible God.” The union of God with man in accordance with the teaching of Saint Cyril the Great of Alexandria was emphasised. “To speak His Name is to speak the Name of God. To see His Face is to see the Face of God. To depict Him is to depict God.” Several icons were analysed in more detail including a modern icon of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and an icon of the Apocalypse.
Several different icons of the Good Shepherd were contrasted, then of Saint Moses the Black and also of Saint Simon the Tanner; 12 November being the first of the three days added to the Advent Fast in perpetual memory of the three days of fasting and Saint Simon’s part in God’s miraculous deliverance of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the tenth century.
Some students however acceptable they found the theology of the presentation clearly struggled with an emotional response to the idea of kissing an icon. Father Simon’s honesty in frankly acknowledging (though now the most natural thing in the world for him) how difficult he had once found it, with his then evangelical protestant background, to force himself to first kiss an icon seemed to help facilitate discussion around this. The session finished with all present each sitting in prayerful silence for a few minutes before an icon of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
BOC Portsmouth Congregation represented at House of Bethany
Subdeacon Antony-Paul Holland represented Father Simon Smyth (who had been invited but was, regrettably, unable to attend) and the British Orthodox Portsmouth congregation at a Mass held on 5 November for the installation of Mother Rita-Elizabeth as Superior to the Society of the Sisters of Bethany for a further five years. The British Orthodox Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black in Portsmouth and the Society of the Sisters of Bethany in neighbouring Southsea enjoy warm ecumenical relations. Mother Rita-Elizabeth and other sisters have joined the British Orthodox congregation for celebrations of the Divine Liturgy and British Orthodox members from both the Portsmouth congregation and from Southampton have attended Quiet Days at Bethany House and stayed on retreat there.
Bishop Trevor Wilmott of Dover, the Episcopal Visitor for the Society, led the celebration of the Mass. He was assisted by the House Chaplain, Father John Preston (a good friend to Orthodox locally). During the service Mother Rita-Elizabeth was brought before the congregation, then before Bishop Trevor she made her vows again as Superior to which she had recently been re-elected by her Sisters. It was with great joy that she was welcomed by all those present, who included several priests, monks and nuns from various parts of the country and ecumenical friends.
After the service a buffet lunch was enjoyed in the garden with opportunity for ecumenical friendship and conversation.
Morden College ministry comes to an end
Writing to Father Brian Walton, the chaplain of Morden College, Blackheath, on 25 November, the eve of the fortieth day since the repose of Father Michael Robson, Abba Seraphim noted that his passing marked the end of the bi-monthly celebrations of the Divine Liturgy, which had been held in the College Chapel since 2010. He felt that this was an appropriate occasion to express his profound appreciation (and also that of Father Peter Farrington, who had shared this ministry) and thanks to the College for this privilege and for so generously making the Chapel available for the Orthodox Liturgy. He wrote of the unfailing support they had received from the chaplains and for the spiritual comfort and fraternal love shown to Father Michael throughout his time at Morden College. “The supportive attendance of other members of the College whenever we celebrated the Liturgy was a witness to their love and respect for Father Michael, but also a manifestation of a deeply prayerful ecumenism … [which] expressed the love of Christ which infuses all that we do in His name.” In conclusion he said that although the time of ministry at Morden College had now come to an end, they were left with such strong feelings of respect and affection for both the institution and those who are its living members, that they will continue to pray for the prosperity and maintenance of the remarkable way it serves those who come under its protective covering.
Father Michael Jalkh, Secretary of MECC, meets COOC leaders
On 26 November His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhannesian, in his capacity as President of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches (COOC) hosted a luncheon at the Randa Restaurant, Kensington, in order to introduce The Reverend Dr. Michel Jalkh, General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) to some of the senior members of the Council. Among those present were HG Bishop Angaelos, HE Archbishop Athanasios Touma, HE Metropolitan Seraphim, Father Aphrem and Dr. Harry Hagopian and Dr. David Ryall (Secretary of the Department of International Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England & Wales [CBCEW]). Father Michel, who is a priest of the Maronite Church, was visiting London as the guest of CBCEW as well as meeting other religious leaders and politicians to discuss the current situation of the churches in the Middle East.
Annual Constantinople Lecture
On 27 November, Deacon Daniel Malyon attended the Annual Constantinople Lecture, organised jointly by the Anglican & Eastern Churches’ Association [AECA] and Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius at St. Mellitus College, London, SW5. The event was well attended by members of various Christian communities who showed their support for this ecumenical endeavour.
This year’s speaker was Father John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Christian Seminary in New York. The title of his lecture was ‘Take Back Death! Christian Witness in the 21st Century,’ and addressed matters of bioethics and epistemology in the context of the contemporary Western world. Father John drew heavily on the works of St. Irenaeus of Lyons and especially his approach to martyrdom and patristic understanding of what it truly means to be ‘a living person’ in comparison to the modern medical and social framework for the term.
The lecture proved extremely relevant and thought provoking, especially with regards to the prevalence of the theological response to death amongst scholars today. With the growing importance of this topic foreseen by eminent theologians, such as Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, further examination of the anthropological aspect of theology is needed regarding the concept of personhood. Father John’s analysis of these matters and links to the patristic approach demonstrate the strong foundations that today’s Orthodox academics have at their disposal as they prepare to tackle these areas.
Following the talk, Father John offered an informal question and answer session, at which point Deacon Daniel had the opportunity to engage him on his recent publication [Irenaeus of Lyons, Identifying Christianity, Oxford University Press: 2013] and discuss approaches to teaching Irenaeus’ works to students of Philosophy. Following this, Father John also presented Deacon Daniel with a signed copy of his book ‘Becoming Human.’ [Becoming Human. Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word & Image, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: 2013].
Shadwell Study Evenings in 2014
The monthly London Mission Study evenings at Shadwell continue to be lively and well supported with a wide range of topics studied. The evenings have been led by Abba Seraphim, Father Peter Farrington and Deacon Daniel Malyon. During the first quarter of 2014, under the title “Combatting the Dawkins of their Day”, Second Century Christian Apologists were introduced, “Against the State (Justin Martyr) by Abba Seraphim; “Against the Pagans” (St. Theophilus of Antioch) by Deacon Daniel and “Against the Heretics” (St. Irenaeus) by Father Peter. In the second quarter the theme was “Mary, Mother of God. The Witness of the Orthodox Church”: Mary in Scripture & the early Church Fathers (Abba Seraphim), Mary and Orthodox Christology (Father Peter Farrington) and Mary in Orthodox liturgical tradition (Deacon Daniel). In the third quarter the lives and writings of Three Orthodox Hierarchs of the British Isles were studied: St. Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland; St. Theodore of Tarsus and St. Dunstan. The theme for the final quarter of 2014 was “The Orders of the Sacred Ministry: Bishop, Priest, Deacon.”
Launch of new British Orthodox Community in Bristol
The new British Orthodox community in Bristol, under the patronage of Saint Cyril the Great, was launched with a celebration of the Divine Liturgy led by Father Simon Smyth on Sunday 4 January. The Bristol Fellowship meets for worship in the Church of Saint Peter (Church of England), Church Road, Filton, Bristol, BS34 7BL. The beautiful Lady Chapel in which the Divine Liturgy was celebrated had a strong sense of prayer.
As well as being a great joy to celebrate the first liturgy for the new Bristol community, the occasion brought with it many family associations for Father Simon, as his parents had been married in Saint Peter’s Filton almost seventy years before, and he had himself attended there as a child during family visits to Bristol and had last been present for his aunt’s funeral a decade ago.
Further Liturgies are scheduled for February and March, as follows:
Sunday 1st February Incense (13.00) & Liturgy (13.30)
Sunday 15th March Incense (13.00) & Liturgy (13.30)
New Mission begins in Swindon
On Wednesday, 21st January, the first liturgy of the British Orthodox Community of St Martin in Swindon was celebrated in the Church of St Mary, Commonweal Road, Swindon. The Church had been made available thanks to the kind hospitality of the Dean of Swindon, the Revd. Simon Stevenette, who has been entirely and generously supportive of our British Orthodox missionary activity in the town.
The small, 1960s building is just the right size for our Community and has an attached hall and kitchen, providing all the necessary facilities for worship, fellowship and teaching.
On this occasion of the first liturgy there were 14 people present, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. Some were people that have been associated with the British Orthodox Church for some time, as members or catechumens. Others were young families of Orthodox. While one couple Pentecostal couple found our liturgy entirely providentially and joined in with great enthusiasm.
An opportunity for fellowship and refreshment followed the liturgy. On the next celebration we hope that some of those known to us who were unable to attend will be present with us.
The next two liturgies are:
Wednesday, 18th February, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, 25th March, 6:30 pm
The Church of St Mary is at Commonweal Road, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 4LB
Babingley’s contribution to the Week of Prayer
For a number of years, the British Orthodox congregation at Babingley have extended a warm welcome to their neighbours to attend a special service of Evening Prayer with a guest speaker on an ecumenical theme during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year, however, it was decided to offer a day-long study session and multi-media presentation on “The Orthodox Way of Prayer”, led by Father Peter Farrington, which took place on Saturday, 24 January.
Father Peter’s two talks were well received and generated a lively discussion and fraternal exchanges, as did his illustrated presentation on “Praying with Ikons”. There were also opportunities – much valued by all present – for silent prayer, in which those present could practise the Prayer of the Heart as expounded by him. The study day opened and concluded with prayers from the Agbia. It was a great joy to have Father David Seeds and Archdeacon Alexander Astill from the Cusworth congregation supporting the day.
The second Glastonbury Studies Seminar
The second Glastonbury Studies Seminar was held at the Abbey House, Glastonbury, on 31 January on the theme “Glastonbury Abbey and Throne.”
Chaired by Abba Seraphim, it followed on the previously successful seminar “Glastonbury Abbey – Influence and Legacy”, held in 2013, and was jointly sponsored by the British Orthodox Church and the Glastonbury Antiquarian Society. The seminar, was fully subscribed, with a third of those present having attended the 2013 seminar.
The distinguished speakers included Paul Ashdown, who spoke on the abbey’s royal links prior to the Norman Conquest; Jerry Sampson, archaeological consultant and conservationist, who examined the evidence for King Henry II’s financing of the repairs to the Abbey following the Great Fire of 1184; Dr. Tim Hopkinson-Ball on the Cultus of St. Edgar at Glastonbury Abbey; and Professor James Carley on John Leland, Henry VIII’s antiquary, and his association with Glastonbury Abbey before and after the Dissolution.
A third seminar is planned for February 2017.
On Friday 30 January marked the Annual Celebration for the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs, organised by the Greek Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. Due to his commitments in Glastonbury, Abba Seraphim was unable to attend the event and so was represented by Deacon Daniel Malyon. The evening consisted of hymns by the school of Byzantine Music, traditional Greek dances and a talk by Dr Petros Sarris, an internationally renowned lecturer in Byzantine History. Dr Sarris’ talk centred on the focus on fair distribution of wealth in the writings of the three hierarchs and lessons which their writings can teach us today. The talk was well received by all present, especially following the recent tremors in the political climate in Greece and other European nations. Following the talk, there were Orthodox hymns sung by the School of Byzantine Music and a brief reception at which Deacon Daniel gave Archbishop Gregorios greetings from Abba Seraphim.