During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Father Simon made two ecumenical visits, one to his local Roman Catholic Church, Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Peter the Apostle, Waterlooville, and one to Immanuel Baptist Church, Southsea.
As the British Orthodox Portsmouth Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black does not yet have its own Church building and the font in the current venue, Saint Faith’s Anglican Church, is only of sufficient size for infant immersion, Immanuel Baptist Church has kindly hosted the British Orthodox congregation for three adult baptisms so far with more, it is hoped, in the months ahead. The Baptist pastor, the Reverend Elgan Evans invited Father Simon to say a little about the British Orthodox Church and the wider Oriental Orthodox family, especially the current situation in Egypt with Immanuel Baptist Church being a supporter of the Barnabus Fund. Father Simon drew a parallel between both local Church names, the British Orthodox proclaiming the central truth of Christianity, that Christ is God, through the ancient title of Saint Mary as Mother of God, that the Baby she carried within her, to Whom she gave birth, Who she fed at her breast was and is God – and the Baptists likewise proclaiming this through their name Immanuel, meaning God with us.
At Waterlooville Roman Catholic Church Father Kevin Bidgood kindly asked Father Simon to speak with people after the mass and he was engaged in conversation about the current situation of the Church both in Egypt and also Syria. One member of the congregation generously gave a donation which Father Simon explained he would pass onto the Barnabus Fund for its work in that region where it was active on behalf of both Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Christians.
Although this was the first British Orthodox clergy visit to the new Roman Catholic Church in Waterlooville there is already an existing link between us through the work of David Pratt (who has family connections to the Church and lives nearby) who advised on the arts committee during the design and construction of the new building. His influence can be seen in particular in the mosaic up above the entrance to the Church showing Christ in glory with the four incorporeal creatures. The inspiration for this work was provided from an icon in the complex of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Mark in Abbaseya, Cairo, and photographed by one of our Church members back in 2005.
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.
Many people were killed and hundreds were injured in Cairo on Sunday, 9 October when police and armed forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at a peaceful march, beginning in the suburb of Shoubra, to protest at the recent destruction of St. George’s Coptic church in El Marinab, Aswan. This had taken place after Friday prayers on Friday, when the dome, walls and columns of the church were demolished and set on fire. In addition to drawing attention to the attack on the church in Aswan, the demonstrators were also requesting an effective conclusion to investigations into several sectarian attacks, and the passing of a new law governing the building of churches,
Members of the security forces surrounded and attacked the Cairo marchers as soon as they arrived at the state television station in Cairo’s Maspero suburb. The marchers claimed that they were pelted by people within the TV station itself. Most of the casualties suffered gunshot wounds. Others victims were severely beaten. However, several died or were seriously injured when members of the security forces deliberately drove at the 150,000-strong crowd in armoured vehicles.
In a worrying development, while the attack was underway, the security forces are reported to have forcibly closed at least two independent media sources, while state television broadcast statements inciting against “Coptic protesters”. These included claims that the security forces were protecting the TV station from “angry” Copts, that the allegedly armed marchers had killed one officer and injured 20 others, that “foreign agendas” were at work, and a call for people to take to the streets in order to “protect” the army. In a possible response to the latter, men in civilian clothing were later spotted amongst security personnel as they attacked protesters, and Cairo’s Coptic Hospital, which received most of the dead and injured, came under a two-hour attack by a group of men who approached the premises chanting “Islamiya, Islamiya”.
The next day, at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, chaired by Pope Shenouda III and attended by 70 metropolitans and bishops, the following statement was issued:
The Holy Synod was troubled by the incidents that happened yesterday, Sunday; the martyrdom of more than 24 Christians and the wounding of 200 during their peaceful march.
While stressing our Christian faith rejecting violence in all its forms, we cannot neglect that strangers might infiltrate among our sons and commit mistakes that are attributed to the latter.
Still Copts see that their problems are consistently repeated without punishment or legal action against their aggressors or implementation of radical solutions to these problems. The Holy Synod invites the Coptic people to pray and fast for three days starting tomorrow Tuesday so that the Lord dwells with His peace in our beloved country Egypt.
In solidarity with the Mother Church in Egypt, His Eminence Abba Seraphim, has commended this spiritual discipline to members of the British Orthodox Church and asked that services of commemoration for those who lost their lives in Cairo should be held in all churches and missions. “Our hearts go out to all the friends and families of the departed as well as for the many injured. As Christians we deplore all violence and under the wise guidance of H.H. Pope Shenouda we have been taught that our protests must always be peaceful. The Church respects the authorities but also asks that justice and the rule of law should be upheld. Without that it becomes increasingly difficult to rebuild a society in which all people of faith can co-exist harmoniously to ensure the stability and unity for which all decent people long.”
Photo source: http://theorthodoxchurch.info/main/
Abba Seraphim expressed his condolences at the news of the death of His Eminence Metropolitan Domadios of Giza, who died on 16 September at at El-Salam Hospital in Mohandessin, Giza where he was under treatment. Pope Shenouda along with 37 metropolitans and bishops and 3,000 people led the funeral office. The funeral was attended by the Vatican Ambassador to Egypt, the Minister of Interior (General Mansour al-Issawi) and the Governor of Giza.
Born as Michael Khalil on 9 July 1925 at Maghagha City (Minya Governorate), he completed his high college and spent his early and primary school Bmgagh then moved to complete his secondary education school at El-Masai El-Mashkura College in Shebin El-Kom. On 1946, he received his his bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University. He then studied a 2-years Education diploma (1948) to work as teacher of Agriculture in Tanta for two years.
At the age of 15, he joined the church village ministry convoys in Giza. During his university studies, he started teaching Sunday School at St Mark’s Church in Giza. Michael Khalil was a disciple of Father Mi9na the Hermit (the future Pope KyrillosVI).
On 29 April 1951, he was consecrated as a monk monk at the Syrian Monastery with the name “Fr Matthias”. As an Agricultural Engineer, he utilized his knowledge to improve the desert soil near the monastery and cultivate a farm. This was one of the earliest attempts to cultivate desert soil. On March 1953, he was ordained priest, then Hegoumen in April 1954 (which is remarkable as he was not yet even to his 30s).
When Fr Mina the Hermit was consecrated as Pope Kyrillos, Fr Matthias joined his secretariat. The former sent him in 1962 to support the growth of St Mina’s Monastery at Mariut. At the same time, Pope Kyrillos nominated him for the episcopate, which he refused. However, the Holy Synod selected him to become the Bishop of Giza and Pope Kyrillos consecrated him as Bishop Domadios of Giza on 31 March 1963. He was later promoted to the rank of Metropolitan by Pope Shenouda III on 2 June 1985.
In his later years, Abba Domadios suffered from a stroke which left him partially paralysed and confined to a wheel chair for many years, but in 2009 Pope Shenouda consecrated Bishop Theodosius as a General Bishop to assist him.
Translated with few additions from Dostour Newspaper
The Coptic Language Summer School held at King’s College, London over the 5th-8th September was a complete success and even exceeded the expectations of those who participated, and myself who organised it.
Over four very intensive days of study a group of eight students progressed with growing understanding and enthusiasm through the first third of Thomas Lambdin’s Introduction to Sahidic Coptic through the inspiring teaching of Dr. Carol Downer, one of the few experts in Coptic teaching in the UK at the present time.
The group of participants included a variety of university lecturers from different institutions, several PhD students, and a handful of independent students such as myself. The class turned out to be ideally matched and we progressed through the studies at a very fast pace while also working together so that no-one was left behind.
We were fortunate to be able to hold the Summer School at King’s College, London, at the Strand campus, and some of the faculty and students at King’s were participants on the course. The excellent cafeteria facilities on site meant that we did not have to spend time each day looking for somewhere to have lunch together. The room we used was just the right size and had a view out over the Strand.
Many of the group were already competent in a variety of other ancient languages, but thanks to the teaching ability of Dr. Carol Downer even those of us whose willingness to learn was greater than our present grasp of Sahidic Coptic were soon able to translate increasingly complex sentences. Working through the exercises, both together in the class, and on our own in the evening, meant that the lessons we were learning took root.
By the end of the intensive course we were even able to begin to read passages from the Scripture with some understanding and each participant was able to measure the real progress they had made. Having studied the first third of our text book many of the class asked if a second and even a third such intensive week of studies could be organised in January and at Easter so that a more complete grasp of Sahidic Coptic could be acquired over the course of the year.
Some of the comments I have received from participants are as follows:
I absolutely loved the course – the atmosphere was friendly and open, and I felt welcome at once even though I am no language expert. It was just the push I needed to get me interested and motivated to continue pursuing Sahidic Coptic, and the encouragement and support I received has increased my love for the language even further.
- 26 May 2013
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Morning Prayer: Babingley10.00am Morning Prayer
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: CharltonRaising of Incense 2.00 p.m.
Divine Liturgy 2.30 p.m.
- 2 June 2013
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: Babingley10.00 a.m. Morning Incense
11.30 a.m. Divine Liturgy