On 25 September, the Archbishop of Canterbury (the Most Reverend & Right Hon. Justrin Welby), assisted by the Bishops of London and Rochester, with the College of Bishops, consecrated two new bishops at Westminster Abbey. These were the Venerable Martyn Snow, Archdeacon of Sheffield & Rotherham, to be Suffragen Bishop of Tewkesbury in the Diocese of Canterbury, and the Reverend Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop’s Ecumenical Secretary, to be Bishop of Ebbsfleet in the Diocese of Canterbury.
Abba Seraphim was among the many ecumenical guests invited to the service and to the reception at Lambeth Palace following the consecration service. Canon Jonathan Goodall’s work with both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches meant that they were well represented at the service. Among those attending were Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira (Ecumenical Patriarchate); Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations & Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate); Bishop Dositej of Great Britain & Scandinavia (Patriarchate of Serbia); Archbishop Iossif of Western & Southern Europe (Patriarchate of Roumania); Bishop Youhanna of Laodikea (Patriarchate of Antioch) and Archbishop Nikiphoros of Askalon (Patriarchate of Jerusalem). Others representing the Oriental Orthodox Churches were Bishop Angaelos and Fathers Shnork Bagdassarian and Garegin Hambardzumyan.
It was a particular pleasure that the Sermon on this auspicious day was preached by The Right Rev’d & Right Hon. the Lord Williams of Oystermouth, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury.
The recent visit of His Holiness Mar Basilius Mar Thoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, to England, was not only a great blessing for the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom but also a significant ecumenical event. His visit marked a number of historic anniversaries: 80 years since the first celebration of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Qurbana in the Chapel of King’s College, London; 75 years since H.H.The Catholicos, Mar Baselios Geeverghese II visited the UK in 1937; 60 years since the Malayalee migration to the UK and 40 years since the formation of the St. Gregorios Congregation in London.
Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Subdeacon Daniel Malyon and Reader Trevor Maskery, attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Catholicos at St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Brockley on Sunday, 8 September, and assisted in the liturgical celebration and the parochial speeches and festivities which followed.
On Monday, 9 September a Banquet of some 90 guests was held to honour the Catholicos at Lambeth Palace. In the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe (The Right Rev. Geoffrey Rowell) and Southwark (The Right Rev. Christopher Chessum) acted as hosts. Representatives of all the major churches were present as well as many leading members of the Malayalee community in the UK and friends of the Indian Orthodox Church. The British Orthodox Church was represented by Abba Seraphim, Father Peter Farrington and Father & Mrs. Simon Smyth.
On 10 June the Most Rev’d Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, invited the episcopal members of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches to join him for lunch at Lambeth Palace. The bishops were warmly welcomed and Archbishop Justin assured of his commitment to the ongoing ecumenical dialogue, especially welcoming the resumption of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Dialogue, which would be hosted in October by the Church of England. Over lunch a number of topics of common interest were discusse,d with especial concern expressed for events in the Middle East, and the Archbishop spoke of the need for continuing efforts and prayer for the release of the two kidnapped Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo. The company was joined by the Bishops of Europe (The Right Rev’d Geoffrey Rowell) and Southwark (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum).
(Left to right): Father Melake Sion Habte Mariam, Bishop Geoffrey, Mar Athanasios Touma, Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian (President – Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in UK), Archbishop Justin. Bishop Angaelos, Abba Seraphim, Archbishop Antoinios, Bishop Christopher. Photograph “© Lambeth Palace”
In preparation for his enthronement on 21 March, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev’d Justin Welby, has been making a ‘Journey of Prayer’ around the Province of Canterbury. On the afternoon of 16 March he visited Southwark Cathedral to meet with the clergy and people of that diocese as well as representatives of other Christian communities, who would be his new ecumenical partners in his new ministry. Although Southwark Cathedral was cheerful and bustling, the emphasis on prayer in its many manifestations was apparent as was a general spirit of welcome and good-will. The Archbishop, Bishop Christopher Chessum of Southwark and his suffragans were scattered around the cathedral and all easily accessible to those who came to greet them and especially to assure the new Archbishop of their prayers. Among these were Mgr. Peter Smith, the Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, and Abba Seraphim, who both greeted him warmly. In his prayers in their presence Archbishop Justin gave thanks for the recent elections of both the Coptic and the Roman Popes. The afternoon concluded with a short evening prayer, which included two Orthodox elements: the Trisagion and the Great Litany.
This year’s Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Reception, held at Lambeth Palace on 28 November, marked the retirement of the Most Rev’d Rowan Williams from the See of Canterbury. Abba Seraphim and Father Peter Farrington were among the many ecumenical guests attending to show their appreciation for the past decade of Dr. Williams’s ministry. The evening began with Common Worship Evening Prayer conducted in the Archbishop’s Chapel at which Dr. Williams preached the homily, followed by a Reception in the Guard Room, organised by the Nikaean Club. Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford introduced the archbishop with an entertaining and anecdotal speech, following which Dr. Williams spoke of the considerable progress and deepening of ecumenical relationships over the past few decades and how it would continue to have increasing influence in the future.