The celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Portsmouth on Saturday 12th May included the latest baptism, that of young Alexander Bahy Eladham Ramsay Mahrous. He was beautifully behaved throughout the service and beamed wonderfully when he was dressed in the miniature priest’s garments at the conclusion. This is not just a ‘nice touch’ or a good ‘photo opportunity’ but is in fact an important symbol emphasising that all the baptised are members of the “royal priesthood” (1Peter 2:9). The ordained priest does not celebrate the Liturgy on behalf of the congregation who are merely spectators – no, the ordained priest leads the celebration in which all present participate, offering the eucharist together and he may no more offer it without a congregation than the congregation may dare to offer it without an ordained priest.
On Friday 4th November Father Simon travelled to Manchester in order to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Saturday 5th November with the Eritrean Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour who currently have no priest and are dependent on visiting clergy so they can enjoy the occasional Liturgy from time to time. And enjoy is very much the right word for this Eritrean congregation who approached the holy communion in such devoutness and celebrated with such joy and enthusiasm. He was supported by Archdeacon Alexander who travelled from Sheffield on the day, assisted also by the Eritrean deacons present. The congregation was almost overwhelming in their expressions of appreciation for the visiting British Orthodox clergy.
Sunday afternoon 6th November saw Father Simon back in Portsmouth for the baptism of Paul Theodore Maties where he was assisted by Subdeacons Edward Smyth and Nicolae Popu and Reader Daniel Malyon. The British Orthodox congregation of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black was swelled by the many family and friends who came to support young Paul and his parents, Oana and Ovidiu, travelling from Scotland, France, Germany, their native Romania and even from as far as the United States. It was good to see such wonderful support for a baptism.
In a brief sermon Father Simon made reference to his Manchester visit the day before explaining how the congregation could not have celebrated the Liturgy without an ordained priest, then recalled the time several years before in Trotton Church one cold January when all the members were sick with flu and he as an ordained priest without a congregation could not celebrate. There must always be a congregation, however small (“where to or three are gathered together”) and the ordained priest has no more authority to celebrate without a congregation than the congregation without an ordained priest. Young Paul Theodore might not yet understand the theology of priesthood but by his baptism and chrismation he had just been incorporated into the priesthood of all believers and when Father Simon next celebrated the Liturgy he would not be celebrating it for Paul but with him, even as with every other Church member present.
Edmund John Sihua Humphreys received the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion on Sunday, 2 October to become the latest communicant member of the British Orthodox Parish of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black, Portsmouth. Edmund’s journey to Orthodoxy had begun several years previously during a visit to Moscow with an encounter with an icon in one the Russian Orthodox Kremlin Churches. Although finding it difficult to articulate the experience to others (as is often the case with such personal spiritual moments) Edmund was prompted to seek further into Orthodox Christianity and thanks to the online British Orthodox Forum discovered the British Orthodox Church in the city of Portsmouth where he lives. He has attended faithfully both in Portsmouth and Bournemouth, worshipping through one Holy Pascha as an enquirer and another as a catechumen, joining in the Bournemouth Weekend of Worship in 2010 and sharing the parish pilgrimage to Stevenage for the Oriental Orthodox Festival. Not surprisingly, there was a good turn-out of Church members representing both the Portsmouth and Bournemouth congregations to support and welcome Edmund home to the Orthodox Church.
On Saturday, 12 March, the regular British Orthodox congregation at Portsmouth was swelled by many family members attending for the baptism and chrismation of Daniel, son of Michael and Nujat Lloyd. The baptism was performed by Father Simon Smyth. Among the godparents was our recently ordained Reader, Daniel Malyon. Following the chrismation young Daniel Lloyd was dressed in accordance with Coptic custom in miniature priest’s vestments emphasising the church’s high theology of baptism and chrismation and reminding us that through these sacraments all Christians become kings and priests.
On Saturday 2nd October Tina Hammond was baptised and chrismated at Chatham. The service was celebrated by Father Peter Farrington assisted by Reader Seraphim Mark and was well attended by regular Chatham parishioners as well as visitors invited by Tina.
Although our facilities are limited we were able to conduct the baptism in the Church using an inflatable baptistery, and after the service the evening Raising of Incense was celebrated.
Tina has taken the baptismal name Marina.
The occasion ended with a small buffet including some home-made cake made by Father Peter’s wife Janet. It was a very joyous occasion and a very great blessing to all who attended.
Sunday was a further blessing for Marina, as well as Father Peter when she received her first communion.
Please pray for Marina and for the congregation at Chatham, that we will continue to experience a time of growth in numbers.