During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the British Orthodox Parish of St. Mary & St. Felix at Babingley has traditionally invited a guest speaker to give an address and this year, during the service of the Raising of Evening Incense, Dr. Michael Kennedy spoke on “Change for the Better: Ecumenism and the Orthodox Concept of Salvation.” In introducing him Abba Seraphim noted that he not only served as a Subdeacon at the BOC Chatham Church and had a distinguished secular career as a university lecturer, but was still an active artist and artists were capable of viewing the world in a way which gave prominence to spirituality.
In his address Dr. Kennedy noted that when one thinks of the Orthodox Churches perhaps the last thing that comes to mind is the word ‘change’. Orthodoxy seems to be the epitome of that which is changeless and to the visitor Orthodox worship probably appears timeless. The Orthodox Liturgy may feel timeless in the sense that it generally continues far longer than most Western church services, but there is also a sense of timelessness in that the ancient liturgical forms are preserved and cherished. A visit to an Orthodox monastery, for example to one of the Coptic monasteries in the Egyptian desert, prompts feelings of going back in time, of nothing really changing, of a deeper more ancient life of prayer and worship. “For many people this perceived timelessness is no doubt attractive. There is security in the unchanging, a sense of knowing where we are, of knowing that ‘God is in his heaven and all is right with the world’. But it doesn’t take much exposure to the Christian faith to realise that this security is an illusion, a comforting one but an illusion nonetheless. Like education, Christianity is all about change.”
He then quoted from patristic and modern sources, especially H.H. Pope Shenouda, to explain the process by which salvation is achieved, “The Orthodox understanding of salvation asks us not to see it as a simple one-off event, something that has already happened in the past but rather to see it is an on-going process. Furthermore we must get involved ourselves. However contemplative we are by nature or inclination we must collaborate with God. The principal means of doing this is through the church into which we must be baptised and we must build on this sacrament, this means of grace, day by day. So we must be changed and we change ourselves, little by little, through prayer, through study, through sacraments, especially the sacrament of repentance, and through good works. All of these are important and I suggest that we miss the point if we believe that our salvation is already accomplished and we need do nothing further. Salvation understood as a union with God is the goal of Orthodox Christian faith, the end to which our life of prayer and worship aspires.”
Regrettably, attendance by the Babingley clergy was restricted by illness. Deacon Mark Saunders was unable to attend as his wife, Sybil, had only just been discharged from hospital having been suffering from pneumonia and Subdeacon Roger-Kenneth Player had only been discharged from Papworth hospital the previous day following heart surgery. Abba Seraphim had visited him at home and prayed for him earlier in the day. However, the service was well attended and Abba Seraphim was assisted by Father Peter Farrington, Deacon Christopher Barnes, Deacon Theodore de Quincey and Readers Daniel Malyon and Roman Benchak.
Subdeacon Roger-Kenneth Player, aged 58, of St. Mary & St. Felix Orthodox Parish at Babingley was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn on 14 January following chest pains. After a thorough examination and several tests, he was found to have suffered a mild heart attack and the following day was transferred to Papworth Hospital where he underwent a coronary angioplasty, from which he is now recovering. It is hoped he may be discharged from hospital on 17 January. Prayers were said for him and his family at the morning celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Babingley.
Those wishing to send messages to Subdeacon Roger-Kenneth please use the contact form here
THE BRITISH ORTHODOX CHURCH
Parish of St. Mary & St. Felix, Babingley Sandringham Estate, PE31 6AW
2012 WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
“Change for the Better: Ecumenism & the Orthodox concept of Salvation”
An address by Dr.Michael Kennedy to be delivered at Saint Felix Chapel, Babingley on Saturday, 21 January 2011 at 3.00 p.m. followed by Vespers (The Raising of Evening Incense) Light refreshments available
Contact: Deacon Mark Saunders 01485 600681
At the invitation of Abba Seraphim, Reader Daniel Malyon from the British Orthodox Parish at Portsmouth, was invited to St. Felix, Babingley, to preach the homily on the Gospel for the second Sunday in Kiakh (Luke XII: 20-28). This was Daniel’s first opportunity to preach and it was very well received by the local congregation, who made him very welcome.
Abba Seraphim is one of a great number of people to mourn the passing of Mgr. Michael Evans, Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, who died on 11 July after a long battle with prostate cancer. Bishop Michael was widely respected and loved in East Anglia and as chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Committee for Christian Unity had forged deep links with Christians from many traditions. Consecrated to the episcopate in 2003, he preached at St. Felix Orthodox Church at Babingley during the 2005 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He and Abba Seraphim both served on the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum, where he was active until his health seriously deteriorated towards the end.
“We have been praying for Bishop Michael throughout his illness and found inspiration in the way he calmly faced death, insisting on fulfilling his ministry to the very last. He was an able theologian with a sharp intellect and a loving, pastoral heart. We will miss him and our prayers and sympathy goes out to his flock, who have lost an outstanding bishop and pastor. Memory Eternal !”
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