Mary Goodchild and Bridget McConnachie represented the British Orthodox Church South Coast congregations of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth at the celebrations to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Etheldreda Anna Benett, the Reverend Mother Foundress of the Society of the Sisters of Bethany. The celebration was held on 29 July 29, the Feast of Bethany, in Saint Clement’s Church, Bournemouth where Mother Etheldreda is buried in the churchyard. His Grace Bishop Trevor Willmott (formerly Bishop of Basingstoke, then with oversight for Bournemouth) presided at the celebratory mass and service of thanksgiving, following which a memorial stone was blessed in the churchyard.
Although originally founded in Clerkenwell in 1866 (the same year as the ordination of Mar Julius as the first bishop for the British Orthodox Church) the society’s association with Bournemouth goes back well into the nineteenth century with a convent built in the 1870s and an orphanage run there for many years. The Bournemouth House of Bethany took a direct hit from an enemy bomb in the Second World War (resulting in the death of two sisters). In the early 1960s the Bournemouth House of Bethany became the Mother House for the society. This was closed in the mid 1980s and the present Mother House of Bethany opened in Southsea. The Sisters of Bethany have always been known for their ecumenical spirit (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 1890s mission to the East Syrian Christians being a famous example of their ecumenical work) and in their early years received both Russian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox visitors. This Orthodox link continues to this day with the British Orthodox Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black in Portsmouth enjoying warm relations with the Sisters of Bethany in neighbouring Southsea.
On 16 July 2013 Abba Seraphim was among the ecumenical guests invited to attend the Mass & Installation of the Right Rev’d Alan Hopes as fourth Catholic Bishop of East Anglia. The service took place as the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Norwich and the installation was performed by The Most Rev’d Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, as Metropolitan of the Province of Westminster. Large numbers of Catholic bishops attended as well as Anglicans. After an interregnum of two years, since the death of Bishop Michael Evans, the local clergy and faithful were filled with joy at this new appointment. Bishop; Alan had previously served as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster with the titular see of Chester-le-Street. Among other Orthodox clergy attending were His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira; Archpriest Raphael Armour, Dean of East England for the Russian Orthodox diocese of Sourozh; and Abuna Shishoy El Antony, Coptic Orthodox priest for St. Athanasius Parish, Easton, Norfolk.
On 14 July Abba Seraphim officiated at the wedding of Ieva Karklina & Peter Takla at St. John the Evangelist Coptic Orthodox Church at Elmers End, Beckenham. He was supported in the service by Fathers Antonius Nagib and Sergius Scott from St. John’s Church. Among those attending was Ieva’s mother from Sweden and several regular worshippers of the British Orthodox Church’s London Mission, including Subdeacon Daniel Malyon and Reader Trevor Maskery.
Abba Seraphim flew into Cairo at 1.00 a.m. on Saturday morning, 15 June, to attend the pre-Pentecost celebrations in Cairo as well as various meetings of the Holy Synod. He was met at the airport by Shenouda Mamdouh and driven to St. Mark’s Centre in Nasr City. After a brief sleep he breakfasted with His Grace Abba Athanasius of the French Coptic Orthodox Church. He was later joined by Father Arsanios Anba Boula and Mrs. Mary Ezzat, who accompanied him throughout his stay. Later that morning they travelled to the Patriarchate in Abbesseya, where they transacted various business before returning back to Nasr City. In the evening Abba Seraphim attended the Raising of Incense at St. Mark’s Cathedral during which His Holiness Pope Tawadros II named three General bishops as diocesans and blessed eight monks who were to be consecrated to the episcopate:
- Abba Athanasius, who has previously served as General Bishop and, since the death of Metropolitan Marcos of Toulon & All France, as locum tenens of the Metropolis of Toulon, was named as Bishop of Marseilles and Primate of the French Coptic Orthodox Church
- Abba Damian, who has previously served as General Bishop, was named as Bishop of Höxter, Brenkhausen and affiliate jurisdiction, as well as continuing as Abbot of the Monastery of St. Mary & St. Maurice in Höxter, Germany.
- Abba Salib (Pistavros), who has previously served as General Bishop for Meit Ghamir in Cairo, was named as Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Meit Ghamir & affiliate jurisdictions.
- Father Arsanios El Baramoussy, who has served for the Coptic community in Amsterdam for many years, was named as Arsany, Bishop of the Holy Diocese of the Netherlands & affiliate jurisdictions.
- Father Pavlos Anba Bishoy, who has served the Coptic community in Athens for many years, was named as General Bishop of the Holy Suffragan See of Greece and Cyprus.
- Father Louka El Baramoussy, who has been serving the Coptic community in Geneva, was named as General Bishop of the Holy Suffragan See of Southern France & Geneva.
- Father Oulogious El-Shenoudy was named as Bishop & Abbot of the Monastery of St. Shenouda the Archmandrite in Sohag, Upper Egypt.
- Father Michael El-Antony was named, Bishop & Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Anthony the Great in Kroeffelbach, Germany.
- Father Abanoub, was consecrated as a General Bishop and named as Assistant Bishop for the Patriarchal Suffragan See of El-Mokattam in the Holy Archdiocese of Cairo, assistant to the Pope.
- Father Makary, was consecrated as a General Bishop and named as Assistant Bishop for the Patriarchal Suffragan See of Shoubra in the Holy Archdiocese of Cairo, assistant to the Pope.
- Father Youssab, was consecrated as a General Bishop and named as Assistant Bishop in the Holy Archdiocese of Cairo, assistant to the Pope.
The next morning, 16 June His Holiness Pope Tawadros, assisted by the Metropolitans and bishops of the Holy Synod, consecrated the eight monks to the sacred order of the episcopate, during a Liturgy which lasted some five hours. That evening Abba Seraphim attended the first of the Synodal sub-committees, the Faith & Education Committee, which met at the Patriarchate.
On 17 June Abba Seraphim and his party visited St. George’s Convent in Old Cairo, where they were received by Mother Kyria and later visited the stained-glass workshop under Mother Parthenia. In the evening they called to visit their old friend, the deaconess, Miss Effa, who is now 93 but was very lively and pleased to see them.
On 18 June they drove some two hours from Cairo on the Alexandsria road to receive the blessing of the Monastery of Saint Thomas the Hermit of Shenshif, originally established as a 350 acre monastic farm in 1996, from 2001 it was settled by monks from St. Thomas Monastery in Sohag. Under the guidance of Fr. Abraam El Samuelly and Bishop Abraam of Fayoum it became a walled enclosure and in 2006 the church and cells were built. It was opened and blessed by Pope Shenouda III on 9 January 2010 and now has 22 monks and 17 novices, with 100 cells. Following this they travelled on to the Anafora Retreat Centre, where they had lunch and chatted with the fathers. Returning to Cairo, they visited friends in the evening.
On 19 June Abba Seraphim attended the Ecumenical Relations Synodal sub-committee at the Patriarchate before attending the Raising of Evening Incense and the Pope’s Wednesday evening lecture at St. Mark’s Cathedral.
On 20 June the Holy Synod met in plenary session at the Coptic Cultural Centre attached to the Patriarchate. Previously meetings had been held in the Chapel of the Papal Residence, but not only had Pope Tawadros found a new venue, but the excellent facilities provided, including electron voting, shows the significance he attributes to the role of the Holy Synod. Abba Seraphim returned to London that evening.
Ably supported by Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown, Father Simon Smyth represented His Eminence Abba Seraphim, Metropolitan of Glastonbury, at this year’s Glastonbury Pilgrimage.
Prior to the Anglican Mass there is a celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Undercroft of Glastonbury Abbey. The British Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Churches celebrate the Divine Liturgy on alternate years and this year the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was celebrated by Mitred Archpriest Father Benedict Ramsden and members of his Russian Orthodox community. The British Orthodox Church is always represented, however, as we are keen to show fraternal support for our fellow Orthodox on this occasion. This was especially pleasing this year as Father Benedict was also celebrating this weekend the fortieth anniversary of his ordination as priest. Father Benedict referred more than once to the suffering and persecuted Coptic Church and showed the British Orthodox clergy the same deep respect he always does on these occasions.
Owing to Father Benedict having to depart straight after the Divine Liturgy Father Simon and Subdeacon Wulfric were the only Orthodox clergy to attend the Solemn Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at which His Grace the Right Reverend John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth and Chairman of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association presided. The Bishop of Plymouth publicly expressed his appreciation for Father Benedict having celebrated the Liturgy even though he had been unable to stay for the Mass and also welcomed both British Orthodox clergy, announcing that Father Simon was representing Metropolitan Seraphim and expressing his joy that we could be together for the pilgrimage, united by our common baptism. The homily was preached by His Grace the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter.
The rain which had fallen to some extent during the Divine Liturgy and to a far greater extent during the Solemn Mass held off for the procession through Glastonbury which was largely bathed in sunshine. Come rain or shine, though, it was a joyful day and seemed generally appreciated and valued by all present.
- 14 December 2013
- Morning Incense & Divine Liturgy: PortsmouthMorning Incense & Divine Liturgy 10am
- 15 December 2013
- Morning Prayer: BournemouthMorning Prayer: 9.30am
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Southampton: Morning PrayerMorning Prayer (10.00) (Holy Trinity Church)
- Raising of Incense and Liturgy: ChathamRaising of Incense: 10:00 am
Divine Liturgy: 10:30 am