Source: Saint George and Saint Shenouda
In an unexpected move, the date for electing the new Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria has been brought forward by almost a month, so that the elections previously set for 24 November will now take place on 29 October, preceded by three days of prayer and fasting. Polling will take place between 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. Cairo time and counting will take place directly following, with the results to be announced the same evening. The three names receiving the greatest number of votes will then go forward for the Altar Ballot, which will now be held on Sunday, 4 November.
It is expected that the enthronement of the new Pope will take place on Sunday, 18 November to avoid the beginning of the Kiakh Fast, which starts on 25 November.
Your Holiness, dear Father in God,
For the second time this year it is my melancholy duty to send to you the profound condolences of your British Orthodox clergy and faithful at the deaths of so many faithful Christians who were peacefully protesting against recent attacks on Coptic churches. We join wholeheartedly in the three days of prayer and fasting and share the grief and shock which the loss of so many innocent lives deserves.
We also extend our deep sympathy to the families and friends of all the departed as well as well as those who were injured in the vicious and unwarranted attacks which took place.
We earnestly pray for peace and justice in Egypt so that all sections of society may be united in rebuilding a free and fair society so that the people of Egypt may be united together in common cause for the benefit of all.
We thank God for preserving Your Holiness in health and safety to lead the church and ask Him to uphold you in your sacred ministry.
Commending myself to Your Holiness’s prayers.
Your loving and faithful son-in-Christ,
In all British Orthodox congregations this weekend special commemoration of the new Alexandrian martyrs were held and their names read out individually. These were held at noon following the normal Sunday service in order to coincide with similar services being held in Coptic churches throughout Europe. At Portsmouth the service was held on Saturday as the Divine Liturgy was already scheduled then as Father Simon Smyth celebrated the Sunday Liturgy in Bournemouth. The specially designed logo was reproduced and displated around the Portsmouth Church as well as attached to the portable ikon stands. At Cusworth Father David Seeds announced that the church had sent a donation of £250 to the Barnabas Fund to support Coptic Christians in Alexandria.
During his address at Bournemouth, Father Simon referred to the cost of blessings, “True blessing doesn’t come cheap.” He also pointed to the example of the ascetic lives of the desert Fathers, to the inward pain of the Mother of God, Saint Mary (“my heart weeps when I gaze at Thee on the cross”) and spoke of the supreme example of the martyrs who paid the ultimate price for the great blessing of martyrdom. “We all want to enjoy God’s blessing – but are we willing to pray the price our beloved Coptic martyrs in Alexandria have just paid?” He emphasised that the Coptic Orthdox Church is par excellence the Church of martyrs. The memorial prayers for the martyred Copts throughout 2010 were prayed outside the Church building so as to give a greater public witness. The Church entrance gate and notice board were covered in symbols of the Alexandrian Martyrs with requests for people to pray for them with their names listed.
St. Thomas’ Parish Church in Old Charlton, which has also been the home of a British Orthodox community for many years, held special prayers for the Alexandrian martyrs at their Sunday morning service on 9 January to show their love and concern for the Coptic Orthodox Church. Abba Seraphim was invited to address the congregation about the brutal attack on New Year’s Eve and Orthodox worshippers joined the l0cal congregation to pray for the departed, the wounded, the bereaved and the entire Coptic Orthodox Church. Following the service Abba Seraphim said, “Not only are the Coptic and British Orthodox Churches united in prayer this morning, but Christians of other traditions have been so shocked by recent events that they too want to stand beside us. Just over a month ago we were showing our prayerful solidarity for Christians slaughtered in Baghdad, now it is our turn to be the victims. The Apostle St. Paul tells us that if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it (1 Cor. XII: 26) and this desire for a united witness on behalf of the suffering church is a great joy and comfort in these troubled times.”