The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

South Coast Congregations represented at Sisters of Bethany Centenary

Mary Goodchild and Bridget McConnachie represented the British Orthodox Church South Coast congregations of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth at the celebrations to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Etheldreda Anna Benett, the Reverend Mother Foundress of the Society of the Sisters of Bethany.  The celebration was held on 29 July 29, the Feast of Bethany, in Saint Clement’s Church, Bournemouth where Mother Etheldreda is buried in the churchyard.  His Grace Bishop Trevor Willmott (formerly Bishop of Basingstoke, then with oversight for Bournemouth) presided at the celebratory mass and service of thanksgiving, following which a memorial stone was blessed in the churchyard.

Although originally founded in Clerkenwell in 1866 (the same year as the ordination of Mar Julius as the first bishop for the British Orthodox Church) the society’s association with Bournemouth goes back well into the nineteenth century with a convent built in the 1870s and an orphanage run there for many years.  The Bournemouth House of Bethany took a direct hit from an enemy bomb in the Second World War (resulting in the death of two sisters).  In the early 1960s the Bournemouth House of Bethany became the Mother House for the society.  This was closed in the mid 1980s and the present Mother House of Bethany opened in Southsea.  The Sisters of Bethany have always been known for their ecumenical spirit (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 1890s mission to the East Syrian Christians being a famous example of their ecumenical work) and in their early years received both Russian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox visitors.  This Orthodox link continues to this day with the British Orthodox Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black in Portsmouth enjoying warm relations with the Sisters of Bethany in neighbouring Southsea.

Abba Seraphim oficiates at wedding

IMG_9620On 14 July Abba Seraphim officiated at the wedding of Ieva Karklina & Peter Takla at St. John the Evangelist Coptic Orthodox Church at Elmers End, Beckenham. He was supported in the service by Fathers Antonius Nagib and Sergius Scott from St. John’s Church.  Among those attending was Ieva’s mother from Sweden and several regular worshippers of the British Orthodox Church’s London Mission, including Subdeacon Daniel Malyon and Reader Trevor Maskery.

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Pope Tawadros meets with European clergy

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’

Cusworth Church celebrates its Silver Jubilee

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Although the Church in Cusworth Village, near Doncaster, Yorkshire, was opened in 1965, it wasn’t until 1988 that it became Orthodox. It was consecrated by Abba Seraphim on 30 April 1988 and celebrated its Silver Jubilee as an Orthodox Church over the weekend 18-19 May.

The celebration began on Saturday morning with the arrival of Abba Seraphim and the Raising of Morning Incense, during which he spoke about the significance of the Jubilee and the fact that it was not simply looking back, but also looking forward to the future. In addition to Father David Seeds, the parish priest, and Archdeacon Alexander Astill, they were joined by Father Simon Smyth and representatives of the BOC South Coast congregations, Deacon Christopher Barnes representing the Babingley Church, as well as Fathers Habtom Ftuwi, the Eritrean Orthodox priest in Manchester; Fr. Yonas Tesheme, the Eritrean Orthodox priest in Sheffield, along with Eritrean Orthodox faithful; as well as our good friend, Archimandrite Deiniol of the Wales Orthodox Mission and friends from other parts of the country.  Among the many messages of greetings received and read out were those from His Grace Bishop Makarios, overseer of the Eritrean Church in the diaspora, the Catholic Bishop of Hallam and the Anglican Vicar of Doncaster.

After a buffet lunch, traditional Eritrean hymns were sung in Tigrinyan and English in the churchyard and Abba Seraphim gave a talk on “The State of Christians in Ancient Bible Lands”.  The day concluded with the Raising of Evening Incense.

On Sunday, 19 May, Father David Seeds celebrated the special Thanksgiving Liturgy for the Jubilee and Father Simon Smyth preached the homily.

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Holy Pascha

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Paschal Eve Liturgy was celebrated in the British Orthodox churches in Babingley, Bournemouth, Chatham and Cusworth;  but the Palm Sunday Liturgy was celebrated at Charlton and additional Holy Week services were also held in Portsmouth. Services in all churches and missions were well supported and numbers were augmented on Pascha Eve by the attendance throughout of Orthodox from Eritrea, Moldova, Roumania and Russia, so that ‘Christ is Risen’ was proclaimed in several languages. Abba Seraphim officiated at St. Felix at Babingley and returned to Charlton in time to host a Paschal barbecue at the Church Secretariat for the London Mission. The marked improvement of the weather over the weekend was much appreciated.  The London Mission Liturgy at Shadwell on Saturday, 11 May, will serve as the paschal celebration for London.

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Upcoming events

  • 27 July 2014
    • Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Doncaster
      Raising of Incense – 9:45am
      Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
    • Morning Prayer: Bournemouth
      Morning Prayer 10.00
    • Morning Prayer: Babingley
      10.30am Morning Prayer
    • Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Charlton
      Raising of Incense 2.00 p.m.
      Divine Liturgy 2.30 p.m.
  • 2 August 2014
    • Morning Prayer: Portsmouth
      Morning Prayer 10.00


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