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.
The Synod of the British Orthodox Church, which usually meets twice yearly, convened at the Church Secretariat in Charlton, London, on 24 November under the chairmanship of Abba Seraphim.
Apart from receiving reports on the progress and development of parishes and missions, the election and enthronement of Pope Tawadros II was noted with great joy. Immediately following the Altar Lot, Abba Seraphim had written to His Holiness to say this the news had been received with “great joy, not only because we now again have a Pope to guide and care for us but also because we are confidant that this choice is of God. We realise the awesome responsibility which has now fallen upon you and that it is out of obedience to God and love of His church that you have accepted a burden, which can only be carried with the knowledge that the Lord will sustain you at all times.” On behalf of the clergy and faithful of the British Orthodox Church, Abba Seraphim had offered “our love, obedience and constant prayers.”
A long standing concern of the Synod has been the conservation and cataloguing of the extensive archive which the British Orthodox Church has amassed over almost a century and a half. Following discussion, it was agreed that a document management strategy, extending over the next five years, should be adopted to achieve this end. It was also noted that in 2013 the Cusworth Church will celebrate the silver jubilee of its consecration as an Orthodox place of worship and Saturday, 18 May was set aside a day of special thanksgiving.
On 23 October Abba Seraphim met with Father David Seeds and Archdeacon Edwin Astill at Ashover, Derbyshire, to discuss the ministry at the Cusworth Church and surrounding area as well as wider concerns of the British Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate during the sede vacante. The Cusworth Church was consecrated as an Orthodox Church in April 1988, so plans are in hand to mark the 25th Anniversary in 2013.
On 18 June Abba Seraphim, assisted by Fathers David Seeds and Gregory Tillett with Archdeacon Alexander Astill, dedicated a new lych gate at St. Mark & St. Hubert’s Church, Cusworth, Doncaster, South Yorkshire. The previous lych gate, had fallen into disrepair after some forty-five years and the entrance to the churchyard was lacking its traditional gate. The new lych-gate, like its predecessor, was fashioned from seasoned hardwood and built by a local carpenter but was roofed with traditional pantiles to match the church roof.
Lychgates have a long tradition in Britain and there are several surviving examples from mediaeval times, though as they were traditionally constructed of wood this has meant that many have not survived the test of time. Having the design of a porch-style gateway into the churchyard the name derives from the the old-English word ‘lych’ meaning corpse, as it was here that the clergy met the corpse of the faithful departed and the bier rested while part of the burial service was read. The gate also served to shelter the pall-bearers while the bier was brought from the church during inclement weather.
Following the service a buffet lunch was provided in the Battie-Wrightson Memorial Hall and a time of fellowship was held. Abba Seraphim presided at the Raising of Evening Incense at the Cusworth Church, during which Father Gregory, gave an address, before his party travelled on to King’s Lynn where Abba Seraphim celebrated the Liturgy at St. Felix, Babingley, on Sunday, 19 June.