Bridget McConnachie came to Orthodoxy late in life, initially drawn to the British Orthodox Church through her friendship with Mary Goodchild. Bridget began attending services in 2011 and on her first visit to the Church of Christ the Saviour in Bournemouth was deeply impressed by the sense of peace she encountered immediately on entering the Church grounds. She continued to enjoy this peace throughout her many subsequent visits. She staunchly supported the Southampton mission from its beginnings in late 2011 but always saw the Bournemouth Church as her spiritual home and was baptised and chrismated into the Orthodox Church, at Bournemouth on Lady Day, 25th March, 2012. Bridget attended Bournemouth at least monthly and made sure she was there for the Advent Carol Service and for Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Pascha.
Bridget also supported other British Orthodox missions whenever she could, including Shadwell and Glastonbury. She was touched by the plight of Syrian Christians in their tribulations of these last several years and gave generously for the work of the Barnabas Fund in that area.
Following a fall early this year, hospital investigations revealed cancer and Bridget moved away from Southampton to live with her son and daughter-in-law in Windsor, where she was able to attend the Liturgy and receive Communion at Saint Andrew’s British Orthodox Mission. She was admitted to a hospice in May where Father Simon and Tasony Sheila Smyth were able to visit her and pray for her a few days before she died. Father Simon administered the holy unction. Although physically agitated and restless Bridget opened her eyes during the prayers and after the brief service was still and calm. One of the nurses explained that Bridget had spoken much of her faith and Church and priest. Bridget still wore her cross around her neck and was watched over in her room by a photo of the late Pope Shenouda for whom she had a deep love.
Bridget McConnachie, Memory Eternal!
The Synod of the British Orthodox Church has submitted a recommendation to the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, that in the reception of those who have previously been members of churches accepting the Council of Chalcedon (including the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches) it should be by confession of faith and prayer, without any requirement for the reception of Baptism or Chrismation.
This recommendation is made on the basis that:
(1) The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate has always received Chalcedonians by confession of faith and prayer on the clear and authoritative instruction of our holy Fathers including St Timothy, the 26th Pope of Alexandria, St Philoxenus of Mabbugh and St Severus. Even during periods of violent persecution our Orthodox Church has not deviated from this procedure.
(2) This has been consistently used as the only method of receiving Chalcedonians from the 5th century to the 19th century. Our own Coptic Orthodox Tradition shows that even Nestorians were received in such a manner.
(3) It is only in the most recent times that Catholics have been required to be baptised on their reception which is an innovation and contrary to the teaching of our holy Fathers.
(4) The development of various doctrines in the Catholic Church in later centuries is no justification for requiring the baptism of Catholics, since even Nestorians were not required to be baptised.
(5) His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of blessed memory signed an agreement with Pope Paul VI of Rome which spoke of the sacrament of baptism being present in both communities, and Bishop Gregorious, the Coptic president of the Theological Commission with the Catholics also insisted that there be mutual respect and regard for the baptism of Catholics.
(6) The Armenian, Syrian and Indian Orthodox all continue our ancient and authoritative Tradition of receiving Catholics without baptism.
Abba Seraphim was among the ten European Bishops of the Alexandrian Patriarchate who are met with His Holiness Pope Tawadros at a conference at St. Antonios Monastery in Obersiebenbrun near Vienna. between 27-30 May. He was accompanied by Father Simon Smyth and Tasoni Sheila Smyth, representing the clergy and laity of the British Orthodox Church.
On 27 May Pope Tawadros and the Bishops in Europe attended a Reception given by Pro Oriente to mark the 10th anniversary of the legal registration of the Coptic Church in Austria, which hosted by His Eminence Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna at his residence in Vienna. During the proceedings Pope Tawadros graciously accepted the title of ‘Protector of Pro Oriente’
The Synod of the British Orthodox Church, which usually meets twice yearly, convened at the Church Secretariat in Charlton, London, on 24 November under the chairmanship of Abba Seraphim.
Apart from receiving reports on the progress and development of parishes and missions, the election and enthronement of Pope Tawadros II was noted with great joy. Immediately following the Altar Lot, Abba Seraphim had written to His Holiness to say this the news had been received with “great joy, not only because we now again have a Pope to guide and care for us but also because we are confidant that this choice is of God. We realise the awesome responsibility which has now fallen upon you and that it is out of obedience to God and love of His church that you have accepted a burden, which can only be carried with the knowledge that the Lord will sustain you at all times.” On behalf of the clergy and faithful of the British Orthodox Church, Abba Seraphim had offered “our love, obedience and constant prayers.”
A long standing concern of the Synod has been the conservation and cataloguing of the extensive archive which the British Orthodox Church has amassed over almost a century and a half. Following discussion, it was agreed that a document management strategy, extending over the next five years, should be adopted to achieve this end. It was also noted that in 2013 the Cusworth Church will celebrate the silver jubilee of its consecration as an Orthodox place of worship and Saturday, 18 May was set aside a day of special thanksgiving.
The new series of monthly meetings under the auspices of the British Orthodox London Mission at Shadwell got off to a good start with a well-attended session on The Didache on 18 October. This was the first of an Introductory Course of Study and Discussion of the earliest Patristic sources under the title, “The Apostolic Fathers.” Abba Seraphim led the discussion and study and Father Peter Farrington will follow up with the second in the series on “St. Ignatius of Antioch” on Thursday, 15 November at 7.30 p.m.
The British Orthodox London Mission of SS George & St. Paul meets at St. George-in-the-East, Cannon Street Road, London, E1 0BH (nearest station Shadwell DLR). The next Liturgy will be on Saturday, 3 November, the day before the Altar Ballot in Cairo to select the new Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria.