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 !”
“Prophet, Priest and King: The High Calling of the Baptised” – Sermon by Father Peter Farrington in two parts.
Each year in January the British Orthodox Church at Babingley hosts one of the events for Churches’ Together in King’s Lynn to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which has proved very popular and has always been well attended. As British Orthodox clergy and members from the Bournemouth, London, Cusworth and Chatham parishes were planning to attend, Abba Seraphim hosted a lunch before the Unity service for members and friends at which he briefed them on the current situation in Egypt and answered questions.
By 3.00 p.m. on Saturday, 22 January, when Abba Seraphim welcomed the ecumenical guests to the Raising of Evening Incense, the church was packed. In his comments he spoke about the deep bond of prayer we all share at the present with the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia, for the health of Bishop Michael Evans, who was himself the speaker at this service in 2005. The speaker this year was Father Peter Farrington, parish priest at Chatham and also the Secretary of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches. His address was entitled, “Prophet, Priest and King: The high calling of the baptised.”
The severe weather which has caused a great deal of chaos in the United Kingdom over the past few weeks resulted in services being cancelled at the Babingley, Chatham and Charlton churches last weekend, 19 December. Even after the snow had stopped falling, the icy roads and wintry conditions made it dangerous to travel and public transport was largely brought to a standstill. One of Father Peter Farrington’s daughters, returning home from Spain for Christmas, found her flight diverted from Gatwick to Luton. As it landed passengers were instructed to brace themselves for an emergency-style landing. Her journey home through the snow took over six hours.
Babingley, being near the Norfolk coast, has suffered heavy snow and sub zero temperatures with Deacon Mark reporting that near him they reached -1o C, although Fr. Anthony Clements in Dumfries reported overnight temperatures there had plummetted to -17 C. At Cusworth, however, the annual Christmas Carol service was well attended with the congregation wrapped up to wiuthstand the cold. On the previous Sunday Father David Seeds baptised and chrismated two new adult members into the Church. Father Simon Smyth also reported that the main roads were clear between Portsmouth and Bournemouth and services there were uninterrupted and the new underfloor heating made quite a difference. Abba Seraphim expressed regret at the cancellation of services but said he was concerned that church members should be safe and that their welfare was paramount. By God’s grace he had not heard of any accidents to church members either when driving or through the icy conditions on the streets although he admitted that he himself had fallen over on the ice just outside the Church Secretariat, though without serious injury !