Abba Seraphim was among the ecumenical guests who attended the enthronement of the Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum as tenth Bishop of Southwark, in Southwark Cathedral on 6 March. Bishop Christopher has served as a very popular Suffragen Bishop of Woolwich for the past eight years and his appointment as diocesan bishop has been well received. Abba Seraphim works together with Bishop Christopher on the Tur Abdin Focus Group. His love for the Orthodox Churches has also been demonstrated by his support for the campaign to free Abune Antonios of Eritrea and and he has also recently joined the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum. Bishop Christopher has supported and encouraged the long-standing warm relations between the United Benefice of St. Luke & St. Thomas at Charlton, where the British Orthodox Church has been accorded hospitality for more than two decades.
The Enthronement took place during Choral Evensong and was followed by a reception in nearby Glaziers’ Hall. A large number of Anglican bishops were in attendance, including Bishop Christopher’s three immediate predecessors in the diocese of Southwark and four bishops from the Anglican diocese of Zimbabwe, which is twinned with Southwark. Earlier in the day Bishop Christopher and the Bishop of London (The Right Rev’d Richard Chartres) had met together symbolically on London Bridge to pledge co-operation in Christian witness in London, which is divided between the two dioceses. Also present were the Catholic Archbishop of Southwark (Most Rev’d Peter Smith) and His Grace Bishop Angaelos.
The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum met for its half-yearly meeting on 24 January at the Syrian Orthodox Church in Acton. It was c0-chaired by Bishop Geoffrey Rowell of Gibraltar in Europe and Bishop Angaelos. Hosting the meeting was Archbishop Athanasios Thoma Dawood and the Anglican representatives were joined for the first time by Bishop Christopher Chessum, the newly appointed Bishop of Southwark. Abba Seraphim was unable to attend as he had another pastoral commitment. The meeting made good progress in refining the Forum’s aims and objectives which include encouraging opportunities for common prayer and worship within the discipline of the respective churches; the discussion of current pastoral, social and political issues; and discovering and educating one another, the clergy and laity about the traditions of each church tradition. The Forum is the result of international dialogue between the churches but does not seek to duplicate the theological work of those diagues but rather to receive and consider the documents issued by those dialogues and to take note of, diuscuss and explore relevent developments between both communions and to explore their local relevance and implications. The Forum plans to produxce a booklet containing all the relevant common statements between the Churches.