As once again, the date for Holy Pascha was common to both East and West, there was a great sense of oneness among Christians in celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection. British Orthodox congregations observed the Holy Week services whilst at Charlton, Father Sergius Scott joined in an Ecumenical Procession of Witness on Good Friday. In all our churches the Paschal Vigil and Liturgy was celebrated on Pascha Eve (23 April), which also coincided with the traditional observance of St. George’s Day in England. The exceptionally fine weather and the fact that so many trees, shrubs and flowers had burst into bloom, added to the sense of the glory of the new life revealed in the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of its elderly congregation and the church being isolated in the countryside, St, Mary & St. Felix at Babingley in Norfolk began the Vigil service just before sunset. Abba Seraphim presided and was the first to proclaim, “Christ is Risen”. As there were a good number of Orthodox Christians from Moldova and Russia joining the regular congregation, they were also greeted in Russian. At the conclusion of the Liturgy when Abba Seraphim blessed and distributed dyed eggs, he also blessed their traditional festive foods of pascha and kullich, which they had brought to the church. Father Simon reports that the Bournemouth and Portsmouth congregations celebrated Holy Week and the feast at the Church of Christ the Saviour at Winton (Bournemnouth) and services were well supported. Following the Vigil and Liturgy on Pascha Eve, on the forenoon of Pascha, prayers for the departed were said at church and in a long-established local tradition their graves at Wimborne Road Cemetery were visited and the Resurrection hymn sung as eggs were placed on their graves. At Cusworth the local congregation were also joined by Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe and the church was filled, whilst at Chatham a new catechumen was received during the evening and the joyous celebration concluded with an extensive buffet which continued into the early hours.
At the conclusion of the service at Babingley Abba Seraphim read the Paschal message from His Holiness Pope Shenouda III and all churches prayed with great fervour for Pope Shenouda and also Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka of Antioch, having a great burden of concern for their brothers and sisters in Egypt and Syria who are caught up in the civil disturbances in both countries.
Abba Seraphim returned to London at noon on Holy Pascha and went first to greet Father Michael Robson at Morden College, Blackheath, before visiting sick and housebound members of the church with Holy Communion.
On 5 March Abba Seraphim met with the deacons for the congregations at Bournemouth and Portsmouth at the home of Father Simon Smyth near Portsmouth to talk to them about the principles of good ministry in the church. Abba Seraphim emphasised the importance of thorough preparation and encouraged the deacons to come to church not only in a state of spiritual preparedness but also having checked the lectionary and the synaxarion for the day. It is their responsibility to support the celebrant in his ministry and to ensure that the liturgical services flow smoothly so that all might benefit from the experience of worship.
Abba Seraphim visited the British Orthodox Church of Christ the Saviour on 13 February to ordain three new Readers for the Bournemouth and Portsmouth congregations. Despite the heavy and almost incessant rain throughout the day, the morning Liturgy was well attended and those present were delighted to witness Daniel Malyon, Anthony-Paul Holland and Roger-John Morgan receive the clerical tonsure and to be ordained as readers. Assisting Abba Seraphim were Fathers Simon Smyth and Seraphim Mina as well as Nicolae Popa and James-Antony Kelly, two long standing Readers.
Whilst presenting them to Abba Seraphim for ordination Father Simon read letters of support including one from Mina Riwes of Washington DC, who had attended British Orthodox services at Bournemouth and Portsmouth whilst he was working in Britain last year and another from Father Marcos A. Marcos of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Scarborough, Toronto, who had received Roger-John into the Orthodox Church in Canada, who wrote, “Indeed they are worthy to join in the sacramental celebrations of our holy Church. On Sunday I will announce this news to our congregation and we will be sharing your joys singing ‘Axios,Axios,Axios’ ”. Another message came from Negati & Safaa Banayoty, through whom Roger-John had come to know the British Orthodox Church in Bournemouth and who were later to be his godparents. Daniel and Anthony Paul will largely serve at Portsmouth and Roger-John at Bournemouth, but as the two congregations are both under Father Simon’s pastoral care, they will often support both churches.
In his address Abba Seraphim spoke of the importance of the minor orders and their place in the ministry of the church and highlighted St. Paul’s injunction that “it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful”(1 Corinthians IV: 1-2) as well as the Lord’s promise to those who are faithful over a few things, “I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matthew XXV: 21).
A happy time of fellowship followed after the service and a buffet lunch was shared by those present.
In all British Orthodox congregations this weekend special commemoration of the new Alexandrian martyrs were held and their names read out individually. These were held at noon following the normal Sunday service in order to coincide with similar services being held in Coptic churches throughout Europe. At Portsmouth the service was held on Saturday as the Divine Liturgy was already scheduled then as Father Simon Smyth celebrated the Sunday Liturgy in Bournemouth. The specially designed logo was reproduced and displated around the Portsmouth Church as well as attached to the portable ikon stands. At Cusworth Father David Seeds announced that the church had sent a donation of £250 to the Barnabas Fund to support Coptic Christians in Alexandria.
During his address at Bournemouth, Father Simon referred to the cost of blessings, “True blessing doesn’t come cheap.” He also pointed to the example of the ascetic lives of the desert Fathers, to the inward pain of the Mother of God, Saint Mary (“my heart weeps when I gaze at Thee on the cross”) and spoke of the supreme example of the martyrs who paid the ultimate price for the great blessing of martyrdom. “We all want to enjoy God’s blessing – but are we willing to pray the price our beloved Coptic martyrs in Alexandria have just paid?” He emphasised that the Coptic Orthdox Church is par excellence the Church of martyrs. The memorial prayers for the martyred Copts throughout 2010 were prayed outside the Church building so as to give a greater public witness. The Church entrance gate and notice board were covered in symbols of the Alexandrian Martyrs with requests for people to pray for them with their names listed.
The severe weather which has caused a great deal of chaos in the United Kingdom over the past few weeks resulted in services being cancelled at the Babingley, Chatham and Charlton churches last weekend, 19 December. Even after the snow had stopped falling, the icy roads and wintry conditions made it dangerous to travel and public transport was largely brought to a standstill. One of Father Peter Farrington’s daughters, returning home from Spain for Christmas, found her flight diverted from Gatwick to Luton. As it landed passengers were instructed to brace themselves for an emergency-style landing. Her journey home through the snow took over six hours.
Babingley, being near the Norfolk coast, has suffered heavy snow and sub zero temperatures with Deacon Mark reporting that near him they reached -1o C, although Fr. Anthony Clements in Dumfries reported overnight temperatures there had plummetted to -17 C. At Cusworth, however, the annual Christmas Carol service was well attended with the congregation wrapped up to wiuthstand the cold. On the previous Sunday Father David Seeds baptised and chrismated two new adult members into the Church. Father Simon Smyth also reported that the main roads were clear between Portsmouth and Bournemouth and services there were uninterrupted and the new underfloor heating made quite a difference. Abba Seraphim expressed regret at the cancellation of services but said he was concerned that church members should be safe and that their welfare was paramount. By God’s grace he had not heard of any accidents to church members either when driving or through the icy conditions on the streets although he admitted that he himself had fallen over on the ice just outside the Church Secretariat, though without serious injury !
- 22 June 2013
- Orthodox Liturgy: Windsor MissionOrthodox Liturgy at St Andrews
Raising of Incense: 9:30 am
Liturgy of St James: 10:00 am
Refreshments and shared lunch to follow
- 23 June 2013
- Morning Incense & Divine Liturgy: BournemouthWorship commences 09.30
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Feast of Pentecost : Babingley10.00am Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy
- Raising of Incense and Liturgy: ChathamRaising of Incense: 10:00 am
Liturgy of St James: 10:30 am
Refreshments to follow