Abba Seraphim attended the triennial Forum of Churches Together in England as the representative of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Forum met at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire from 23-25 October. The theme of the Conference was, “What does Love require of us?”
It was an good opportunity to meet and share with members of other churches and to learn about their hopes and vision for the church in this country. In the absence of any organised Orthodox worship, Abba Seraphim attended a Catholic Mass on the morning of 24 October, among whom two of the concelebrants, Bishop Paul Hendriks and Father Robert Byrne, National Ecumenical Officer & Secretary to the Department of Dialogue & Unity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, are also members of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum.
On 23 January, as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum launched its first publication, Joint Statements between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches. The event was marked by a press conference and reception at the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales at Eccleston Square, Westminster. It was introduced by the two co-chairs, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, President of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the UK and His Excellency Mgr. Kevin McDonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark. Other members of the Forum attending were Abba Seraphim; His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhannesian; Mgr. Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham; Mgr. Paul Hendriks, Auxilary Bishop of Southwark, and Father Peter Farrington (co-Secretary).
Archbishop Kevin described the various statements as “rather a well-kept secret” especially as some of the most remarkable achievements of the ecumenical movement have been precisely with the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Joint Declarations made by both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II with the heads of the Coptic and Syriac Orthodox Churches were “real milestones.” Bishop Angaelos spoke of the real bonds of friendship which had been established within the Forum since its establishment in 2007 and of the very clear aims and objectives which continue to animate it.
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
11.30 a.m. Divine Liturgy