To mark the Coptic Feast of Nayrouz and the start of the new Coptic Year 1729, the service of Offering of Evening Incense was held at St. Margaret’s Westminster on 30 October. Presided over by Bishop Angaelos, assisted by Abba Seraphim, it was also attended by priests from the Coptic Orthodox, British Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Indian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox Churches. Representing the Byzantine family of Orthodox Church were Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira, Archimandrite Deiniol (Ukrainian Orthodox – Ecumenical Patriarchate)and Father Joseph Skinner (director of Inter Orthodox Relations – Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh). The Catholic Church was represented by Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and Father Robert Byrne, National Ecumenical Officer. The Anglican Church was represented by the Bishop of Southwark (Right Rev’d Christopher Chessun), the Right Rev’d John Stroyan (Suffragan Bishop of Warwick) and Right Rev’d David Hamid (Suffragan Bishop of Europe). Before the service commenced Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Chaplain & Ecumenical Secretary, read a message from the Archbishop, who is currently in New Zealand and everyone present was welcomed by Canon Andrew Tremlett, Rector of St. Margaret’s.
At the end of the service the Right Hon. Alistair Burt, M.P., Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Right Hon. John Bercow, M.P. Speaker of the House of Commons, both gave short addresses welcoming the celebration and speaking of the increasingly significant contribution made in the UK by the Coptic community. A drinks reception concluded the evening.
We were very happy to hear the news of the marriage of Tina Hammond of the British Orthodox Chatham parish with Youhanna Said Hakim Georgious of Luxor. This took place on 31 July at St. Antony & St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Luxor and was performed by Abouna Gladious Gerges and Abouna Bolis in the presence of a congregation of more than a thousand people. The wedding had originally been planned for last year, but the sad death of Youhanna’s mother in August 2011 resulted in a year’s delay until the periods of mourning had been accomplished.
Tina will continue to share her time between Luxor and Kent, from where she runs her travel company. Abba Seraphim and Father Peter Farrington with her many friends in the British Orthodox congregations at Chatham, Charlton, the London Mission and the South Coast parishes all send their warmest greetings to Tina and Youhanna and look forward to welcoming him to England.
Through his work with the Barnabas Fund, Father Seraphim Mina works closely with a number of Egyptian dioceses and has often assisted in ministering to Arabic-speaking Copts outside the United Kingdom as well as assisting at a number of Coptic Churches in Britain. Feeling himself called to develop this ministry further, he discussed with both Abba Seraphim and Metropolitan Bakhomios, the locum tenens, the possibility of transferring from the British Orthodox Church to become a General Priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Abba Seraphim stated that he was very happy to bless him to do this as he believes it will provide him with a much better opportunity for service and a fuller ministry and he told Metropolitan Bakhomios that during his time with the British Orthodox Church Father Seraphim has been a very faithful and good priest and the people love him a lot. “He has a deep pastoral heart and his gentle love for the people helps to draw many to God; whilst the wide experience he has gained in many spheres has given him wisdom and good judgement.” Abba Seraphim noted that Father Seraphim came originally from the Coptic Church (having served with H.G. Bishop David in America), so the British Orthodox Church was simply returning him back with gratitude for the work he had done with us. Pope Shenouda always explained that the British and the Coptic Orthodox was one church; and the ties of respect and affection which have been forged with Father Seraphim throughout this time will endure. In reply Metropolitan Bakhomios wrote that he was very thankful to Abba Seraphim for his expression of love and co-operation in the Church and prayed that the Lord would bless his activities for His glory. On 6 June Abba Seraphim duly signed the Canonical Release and Letters Commendatory commending Father Seraphim to the pastoral oversight of Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Church.
A Statement from the Clergy Synod of the Diocese of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate on the selection of the Patriarch of Alexandria.
At the Clergy Synod of the British Orthodox Church held on Wednesday 30th May 2012, at the Church Secretariat in London, under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury, the members of the Synod considered with great care and attention the statement issued by His Grace Bishop Serapion, of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii, together with his Clergy Synod, meeting on Thursday 3rd May and Tuesday 8th May, 2012 and concerning the selection of diocesan bishops as candidates for election as the Patriarch of Alexandria.
The Synod, finding itself in complete agreement with the explanation of the canons and traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate found in the statement issued by the Diocese of Los Angeles, wishes to express its own view that the canons and traditions lead us to understand that the translation of a diocesan bishop to the Patriarchate of Alexandria should be avoided outside of the most serious circumstances, and that the present election does not represent such a serious circumstance.
It is therefore our humble and respectful opinion that a diocesan bishop should not be considered for election to the Patriarchate of Alexandria at this time.
We pray for the peace of the Church and that the Lord may repose the soul of our beloved father, the thrice-blessed Pope Abba Shenouda III, with his saints, and to appoint for us a shepherd who will attend to His people in purity and righteousness.
On 25 April, as the Coptic Orthodox Church solemnly marked the fortieth day after the death of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III with prayers throughout the world, and a Special Service in St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, the British Orthodox Church throughout the United Kingdom joined them in this solemn commemoration.
In a letter sent to His Eminence Metropolitan Bakhomious, the Patriarchal locum tenens, Abba Seraphim wrote, “As today marks the fortieth day after the death of our beloved father, Pope Shenouda III, I wanted to assure you that the clergy and people of the British Orthodox stand alongside their brethren in Egypt in prayers for his repose. He was to us a very special father when he welcomed the British Orthodox Church back to its roots in the Oriental Orthodox family of churches and gave us encouragement and support for our mission to bring the Orthodox Faith to the British people. For this reason he will always have a very special place in our hearts.
As the Church now prepares herself for the task of discerning the Lord’s will for the future and finding a new shepherd to sit upon the Throne of St. Mark, we assure you of our prayers for the heavy responsibilities you have been given, asking that Almighty God will grant you strength and wisdom in the exercise of your duties. Once again, our prayers are joined with our brethren in Egypt that the widowhood of the Church of Alexandria will not be long and that we may enjoy the blessing of a new Pope chosen by the hand of God.”
On the eve of the fortieth day, Abba Seraphim gave a special interview about Pope Shenouda, which is now available on British Orthodox TV.