On 27 August, 2012 the Committee of the Eritrean Orthodox UK subdiocese of Europe met together with Abba Seraphim in Charlton to confer on their mission and progress. Prayers were said for the entire European diocese and especially for His Grace Bishop Makarios, whose ministry in caring for the worldwide Eritrean diaspora has already borne much fruit. Abba Seraphim especially welcomed the latest member of the priesthood, Father Mulebrhan of Birmingham, who was ordained last month by His Grace Archbishop Antonios of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewehedo Diocese of North West Europe.
His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, appears to have suffered a heart attack yesterday and was admitted to Balcha Hospital in Addis Ababa, where he is reported to have died this morning (16 August), aged 76. He had served as Patriarch since 1992.
Abune Paulos was in Cairo in March for the funeral of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, where he delivered a dignified eulogy. Only recently, on 16 July, he met with President Mohamed Mursi during the African Union (AU) leaders’ meeting in Addis Ababa.
Abba Seraphim announced that he had sent condolences to His Eminence Archbishop Antonios, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, assuring him of the prayers of the British Orthodox clergy and faithful in their loss.
A 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.
For the second year running, Abba Seraphim was happy to attend the annual patronal festival of Saint Mary of Zion (Tserha Tsion) Ethiopian Orthodox Tewehedo Church in London on 3 December. The congregation is currently worshipping in St. James the Great Church in Lower Clapton but has recently purchased an adjacent site at 229 Lower Clapton Road, which includes a former cinema, which had lately been used as a night club). Imaginative plans are in hand to convert this building along traditional lines, with the historic Church of St. Mary of Zion at Axum as the inspiration. The project also includes a community hall, school rooms and an episcopal residence.
This parish has a long history of over thirty years and became established under the oversight of the late Archbishop Yohannes (died 1997), who served first as priest-in-charge and later as Bishop of Western Europe with his seat in London. Since 2006 Abuna Antonios has been the resident Ethiopian Archbishop.
In a brief address to the congregation, at the conclusion of the liturgy, Abba Seraphim spoke of his delight to share in their festival and participate in the holy joy of the congregation, and especially at their purchase of the premises after many years of searching. This was a true blessing of God and he congratulated them on their faithfulness. He not only brought them greetings from their brothers and sisters in the British Orthodox Church, but also as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the UK.
On Saturday, 27 November, Abba Seraphim attended the St. Mary of Zion (Tserha Sion) Festival of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church held at St. James the Great Parish Church at Lower Claton, London, E5. The Festival is not only a Marian celebration but also commemorates the taking of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia by the Emperor Menelik I and its placing in St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum, where many Ethiopian Emperors were later crowned. The festivities were presided over by Archbishop Antonios and following the Divine Liturgy there were traditional hymns and dances before the Holy Tabot was processed around the church amid much jubilation.
Following this Abba Seraphim addressed the congregation and offered congratulations on behalf of the British Orthodox Church and the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches. St. Mary of Zion is the oldest of the Ethiopian Orthodox congregations in the United Kingdom although it has gathered in a number of different places in the three and a half decades since it was founded. Abba Seraphim fondly recalled his visit to one of the first services held at a Church in Notting Hill in 1976 when the priest was the late Archimandrite Aba Aregawi Welde Gebriel (later consecrated as Archbishop Johannes) and the congregation was still very small. Under its present priest, Malake Sion Habte Marian Field, the congregation is actively fund raising to purchase their own property and Abba Seraphim looked forward to the day, with God’s grace, when he would have the privilege of attending the consecration of their own church and recognising the fruits of so many years of faithful service. A festive lunch was held in the church hall aftwerwards, with traditional Ethiopian cuisine, which Abba Seraphim was delighted to share.