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.
A Memorial Service for His Holiness Pope Shenouda III was held at St. George’s Cathedral, Stevenage, on 24 March. Bishop Angaelos officiated and clergy of both the Oriental Orthodox and other traditions officiated. Abba Seraphim and Archbishop Athanasios (Syriac Orthodox Church) chanted the psalms; the Bishop of Southwark (The Right Rev’d Christopher Chessum) read the Pauline Epistle and a message from The Archbishop of Canterbury; Abba Seraphim also chanted the Psali Adam and gave the Final Benediction. Among the bishops present were His Eminence Archbishop Antonios (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) and His Grace Bishop Elisey (Russian Orthodox Church) whilst the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Roman Catholic Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church were represented by priests. There were also a number of Coptic Orthodox priests who participated in the service. The British Orthodox Church was also represented by Father Simon Smyth, Father Seraphim Mina, Father Peter Farrington, Deacon Mark Saunders, Deacon Christopher Barnes and a number of subdeacons, readers and laity. There was a large congregation including state and civic leaders and all present were invited to sign the Book of Condolence for His Holiness.
Abba Seraphim writes from Cairo: “The meeting of the Holy Synod which was held on 22 March was memorable for a number of reasons. In fact it was a joint meeting of the Holy Synod, the Maglis Milli (Coptic Community Council) and the Al Awkaf (Council for Church Endowments), so there were also a number of laity present. The session was opened by H.E. Metropolitan Bishoy, General Secretary of the Holy Synod, who spoke respectfully of the church’s loss of H.H. Pope Shenouda and, havimg circulated the 1957 Statutes governing the procedure to be followed after the death of a Pope, reminded us that our first task was to formally elect a locum tenens (sometimes called an Acting Patriarch) for the Church. By seniority this would fall to Metropolitan Mikhael of Assuit, but as he is a nonogenerian, he had humbly waived all rights and proposed that Metropolitan Bakhomious should preside. Whilst seniority is respected, the Synod is free to chose whoever it wishes from among its number. However, the unanimous choice of Metropolitan Bakhomious which followed owed nothing to his seniority and everything to the respect and affection in which he is held by those present. This election was made by 86 bishops and 20 members of the laity. As locum tenens, he will enjoy all the powers of the Pope with the exception of ordaining new bishops during the interregnum.
Assuming his position, the Metropolitan thanked the Synod for its confidence in him and expressed his unworthiness. He spoke of the critical times through which the church is passing and read from Ephesians IV: 1-6. He emphasised the necessity of living according to these verses and desired that we might live in love, peace and unity as we desire to know the will of God and to discover where the Lord is leading His church. Accordingly he encouraged everyone present to speak and be heard in that same spirit. There can be no room for individual interests, Pope Shenouda has left us with a precious treasure. The Church places us in a unique position; we cannot disappoint the people and we carry the responsibility together. It is our task to steer the ship of the church safely into the harbour.
The Synod lasted for five hours, 25 minutes, the longest session in recent memory, and many bishops and laity spoke constructively of their vision for the church’s future and addressed the many issues needing to be considered. It was a long, but fruitful meeting and there was a refeshing openness of debate. The next meeting of the Synod will be held on 27 March and Metropolitan Bakhomious indicated that, if necessary, it would meet twice a week to deal with all the required business. The public will be kept informed of its decisions and progress in the preparations for electing a new Pope by official statements issued from the Patriarchate.”
Abba Seraphim returns to London late on 23 March and will be attending the Memorial Service for H.H. Pope Shenouda III to be held at St. George’s Cathedral, Stevenage, on Saturday, 24 March at 3.00 p.m. He will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy as scheduled at Charlton on Sunday, 25 March.
- 13 March 2014
- Evening Prayer & Discussion: Shadwell7.30pm Evening Prayer
7.45pm Talk and discussion
- 16 March 2014
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Babingley10.30 a.m. Morning Incense
11.30 a.m. Divine Liturgy
- 23 March 2014
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Morning Prayer: Babingley10.30am Morning Prayer