It is with regret that we announce the death of Father Michael Robson at Morden College, Blackheath, on 17 October 2014. Father Michael had been suffering from bronchitis for a few days and had been unable to attend the celebration of the Orthodox Liturgy in Morden College Chapel on 7 October, although Abba Seraphim and Subdeacon Michael Kennedy took Holy Communion to him and he also received the anointing for the sick. His health deteriorated suddenly the morning of his death and he died peacefully in the afternoon.
Father Michael was born in Manchester in 1933 and was ordained a celibate priest in 1978. His secular work had been as working for a number of charities, concluding with running a Christian Retreat Centre in Kent, which he did for twenty-five years until his retirement in 1998. For a number of years he served as a General Priest, assisting with services in London, but he began to host occasional services of the North Kent Mission, which eventually grew into the Chatham Parish. He served faithfully as its first priest until poor health forced him to retire in 2009. When he became too frail to travel to church services, arrangements were made to hold services at Morden College, since when they have been celebrated there regularly.
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 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.
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 [see Youtube]
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.”