After a pause last year, the Glastonbury Pilgrimage resumed its annual commemoration at Glastonbury Abbey this year on 16 June. Abba Seraphim was the Orthodox celebrant in the morning in the abbey’s undercroft, assisted by Father Simon Smyth, Deacon John Stuart, Subdeacons Paul Ashdown and Daniel Malyon and Readers Anthony-Paul Holland and James Kelly.
Although the weather was blustery and threatening, the rain providentially held off and did not disrupt any of the pilgrimage. The Anglican Liturgy followed the Orthodox Liturgy at noon. The principal celebrant was the Bishop of Beverley (The Right Rev’d Martyn Jarrett) and the preacher was the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (The Right Rev’d Jonathan Baker) who preached an eirenic sermon about our Lord’s kingship, rich in patristic as well as historical references to St. Dunstan and the English coronation service. At its conclusion the Bishop of Plymouth (The Right Revd John Ford), who is also of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association, specifically welcomed Abba Seraphim and his clergy. After lunch Abba Seraphim and his clergy joined in the Procession of Witness through the centre of Glastonbury.
Deacon John Stuart is in hospital recovering from a stroke. Following several recent incidents in which he lost his balance and fell over, he was diagnosed as having a blood clot on the part of his brain which controls balance. He has been undergoing tests and treatment and is now recovering in hospital and, happily, making good progress. Abba Seraphim has not only sent him good wishes for a full and complete recovery but asked for prayers for him and his family. Deacon John, who is 63, exercises a ministry as a hospital chaplain in Exeter. He was ordained a full deacon in Exeter by Abba Seraphim in February 2001.
The annual Glastonbury Pilgrimage took place on 19 June and this year Abba Seraphim was invited to be the Orthodox celebrant in the morning. By convention this invitation rotates betweeen the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches each being the celebrant in alternate years. Abba Seraphim was assisted by Fathers Simon Smyth (Bournemouth & Portsmouth) and Peter Farrington (Chatham), Deacon John Stuart (Exeter) and Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown (Glastonbury). The Liturgy, which was held in the Undercroft, was well attended by a number of Orthodox church members, members of the British Orthodox Fellowship as well as clergy and faithful of other churches. In his homily Abba Seraphim spoke of the important tradition of pilgrimage and gave thanks for the revival of Glastonbury as a spiritual centre after the despoliation of the Reformation, “Through God’s mercy Glastonbury was restored – not as it was – but pilgrims returned and worship was renewed. In spite of its neglect for more than three hundred years it never ceased to be a holy place and we enter with reverence and conscious that our devotions are part of the chain of prayer which links us with past ages.”
Following the Liturgy, the Orthodox clergy joined in the Procession of Witness through the town before attending the Anglican High Mass in the Abbey ruins, celebrated by The Right Rev’d John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth, the new Pilgrimage Chairman, with the Right Rev’d Peter Price, Bishop of Bath & Wells as diocesan presiding from the throne throughout and assisted by a number of Anglican bishops, including the Right Rev’d David Silk, the former Pilgrimage Chairman and the two Provincial Episcopal Visitors, the Suffagan Bishops of Ebbsfleet (The Right Rev’d Andrew Burnham) and Richborough (The Right Rev’d Keith Newton) , The Right Rev’d Edwin Barnes, Bishop Emeritus of Richborough and The Right Rev’d David Thomas, Provincial Assistant Bishop of the Church in Wales 1996-2008. The homily on Priestly Vocations by Father Darren Smith, Secretary of the Additional Curates’ Society, resonated with all Christian traditions. The weather remained dry and sunny and many pilgrims were able to picnic in the abbey grounds. Abba Seraphim and his staff, along with the Mayor of Glastonbury, were luncheon guests of the Pilgrimage Committee.