Following the death of Lyndsey Clare Pratt on 26 April at the age of 48, following a long battle with cancer, her funeral was held at Sacred Heart Church in Waterlooville, Portsmouth, on 9 May. Lyndsey’s husband, David, and her two children, Hannah and Samuel are members of the British Orthodox Church and, although a Catholic, she was always very supportive of their church membership and often attended services with them. The Church was full for her Funeral Mass, which was celebrated by the parish priest, Father Kevin Bidgood. Abba Seraphim and Father Simon Smyth and several members of the BOC congregations in Bournemouth and Portsmouth also attended because of the high regard in which she was held. In his homily, Father Kevin emphasised that throughout her long illness she had shown great Christian fortitude and was determined to live her life to the full, undertaking several strenuous sponsored activities to raise funds for cancer charities and demonstrating her strong Christian Faith.
At the end of the service, Abba Seraphim was invited to intone an Orthodox Prayer of Commendation whilst at the graveside in Catherington Cemetery he led the Orthodox mourners in singing the Paschal Troparion.
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.