The British Orthodox Church South Coast congregations, Christ the Saviour (Bournemouth), Saint Polycarp (Southampton) and Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black (Portsmouth) all observed the Feast of the Dormition of Saint Mary the Mother of God on Monday 16th January. Given Father Simon’s ongoing health issues it was not going to be possible to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the South Coast so all three Churches and Missions agreed to keep the Feast in each location simultaneously in the context of None or Ninth Hour (Afternoon) Prayer at 3 p.m. incorporating special readings and prayers for the occasion.
The Coptic Orthodox Church (including the British Orthodox as a daughter Church thereof) together with the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches are the only remaining Christians to still observe the two feasts of the Dormition (or Falling Asleep in death) and the Assumption of (the body of) the Mother of God into heaven. The Roman Catholic Church largely celebrates the Assumption while the Byzantine Orthodox Churches emphasise the Dormition – but the Coptic (together with the British), the Ethiopian and the Eritrean Orthodox Churches still unto this day keep the ancient way of two celebrations or feasts. Even by the standards of Orthodoxy these Churches remain truly conservative or traditional, adhering tenaciously to the ancient Christian Faith
The British Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour, Bournemouth, held their long-standing annual Advent Carol Service on Sunday 4th December. Following the Divine Liturgy a wonderful lunch of varying Lenten fare (soup, baked potatoes and salad, Romanian delicacies) prepared and brought along by several members was thoroughly enjoyed by the congregation. A small Christmas tree was decorated and other decorations soon adorned the back of the Church in preparation for the forthcoming celebrations of the Incarnation.
The Advent Carol Service was well attended with the carols enthusiastically sung by all. In the sermon Father Simon emphasised both First and Second Advents and suggested that a strong and healthy emphasis on the Second Coming helped us avoid an over-sentimental celebration of Christmas such as an excess of snowy manger scenes set amidst northern European landscapes. The sermon did, however, reply to those who totally reject carols such as ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’ with carping criticisms and explained that this hymn could be understood allegorically as referring to the bleak mid-winter of sin that had covered this world and from which the Saviour had come to deliver us.
In response to the deaths of two dozen and the wounding of very, very many of our beloved Coptic Orthodox brethren in Cairo on Sunday and the Holy Synod call for three days of fasting and prayer “so that the Lord dwells with His peace in our beloved country Egypt” the British Orthodox Church stood in firm solidarity with the Mother Church.
Members of the Portsmouth congregation kept the three days of fasting and prayer concluding with a special prayer service on Thursday evening during which these latest martyrs were remembered.
Similarly the Bournemouth and Southampton congregations observed the three days fasting and prayer.
The prayers in the Bournemouth Church each day centred around Sixth Hour (Noon) Prayers with the Gospel lesson from Matthew chapter 5 so appropriate: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:10-12) Particular verses from the Psalms also resonated powerfully: “O God, in Thy Name save me… hearken unto my prayer… strangers are risen up against me, and mighty men have sought after my soul…” (Psalm 53) The words of Psalm 92 also remind us that though “the rivers have lifted up their voices” that though they “lift up their waves as the voices of many waters”, that whatever “the surgings of the sea”, above them all “wonderful on high is the Lord”. “The Lord is King, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength…”
The Southampton Mission under the patronage of Saint Polycarp similarly centred their prayers around the Sixth Hour Prayers.
The three days culminated in the Bournemouth Church (also joined and supported by members of the Southampton Mission) with Twelfth Hour (Evening) Prayer and special prayers for the Mother Church in Egypt as well as remembering the new martyrs. Father Simon led the congregation as they stood before icons of Saint Antony and Saint Paul, Saint Bishoy, Saint Moses the Black, asking their intercessions for the monasteries that bear their names and for all the monasteries and holy places. Standing in prayer before their icons the intercessions of Saint Mary the Mother of God and of Saint Mark were invoked for the whole Church in Egypt. These prayers concluded before the icon of Saint Simon the Tanner whose intercessions were also sought, this great saint whose prayers God had answered a thousand years ago after the three days of fasting and prayers in similar times of danger and trouble for the Coptic Orthodox Church.
A weekly series of meetings is planned this Autumn for the British Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour, Bournemouth. Starting on 15th September these meetings will be held each Thursday with Evening Prayer at 6 p.m. followed by a series of audio visual lectures and presentations. The evenings should finish by 8 p.m.
Also in Portsmouth, the Thursday evening weekly prayer meetings will re-commence on 8th September with Evening Prayer at 7 p.m. and these too will be followed by audio visual lectures and presentations, the evening finishing around 9 p.m. The venue for the Portsmouthmeetings is Flat 11, 286 Twyford Avenue, Portsmouth, PO2 8ND. For further information please contact Antony-Paul Holland on 078 7049 0085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Orthodox Parish of Christ the Saviour at Winton, Bournemouth, celebrated the church’s Diamond Jubilee with a visit from Abba Seraphim combining services and events over the weekend of 2-3 July. Although the parish was founded 75 years ago, the church – formerly a stable and carpenter’s workshop – was not purchased and converted until 1951. The celebrations began at the Church with Midday prayer and an address by Father Gregory Tillett on “The Year of Jubilee” and Abba Seraphim spoke about some of the witness and contribution made by departed church members, especially the faithful women of the church. This was followed by a Reception and Buffet lunch in the Lounge of nearby St. Alban’s Church, Charminster. Among those attending were Fr. Robin Nash, parish priest of St. Albans and Father Marcus Brisley, parish priest of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation, Charminster. Also present were Councillor Beryl Baxter (Mayor of Bournemouth 2009-2010) and her husband, who live next to the Orthodox Church. Visiting BOC clergy included Fathers Sergius Scott and Seraphim Mina from London.
After lunch Fr. Gregory gave a talk, “The Mission to the Ninevites: Universal Orthodoxy in the West”, which was followed by a lively discussion. At 4.30 p.m. Abba Seraphim led a good number of clergy and people in prayers for past members and clergy of the church at the Wimborne Road Cemetery and flowers were placed on the graves of Archdeacon James Goddard, Flora Peckham, Father Stephen Hatherly and Martha Coppin. Evening Incense was raised at the Church and a Celebration Dinner was held at Bates Restaurant in Charminster.
On Sunday morning Abba Seraphim celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Church and Fr. Simon preached the homily, weaving together the themes of the various lessons to emphasise the importance of fidelity. During the Liturgy Abba Seraphim ordained Readers Nicolae Popa, John Morgan and Edward Smyth as subdeacons, the first two to serve at Bournemouth, the third at Portsmouth and Bournemouth. Subdeacon Christopher Barnes was ordained as a deacon to serve the Babingley Parish and Father Gregory Tillett, who is attached to the Bournemouth Church when in the United Kingdom, was elevated to the order of hegoumenos.
- 7 December 2013
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Shadwell9.30 am Raising of Incense
10.00 am Liturgy of St. James
11.45 am Refreshments
- 8 December 2013
- Morning Incense & Divine Liturgy: BournemouthWorship commences 09.30
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Morning Prayers: ChathamMorning Prayer: 10:30 am
Led by the Subdeacons
- Morning Prayer: Babingley10.30am Morning Prayer