Following today’s regular monthly celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Saint Alban and Saint Athanasius British Orthodox Church in Chatham, His Eminence Abba James, the Mafrian, baptised the 3½ year old Laura, along with her sixteen month old brother Adam, following which His Beatitude Abba Seraphim chrismated them both, whilst conferring on them the additional religious names of Mary and Luke. At the same time their mother, Mrs Emma of Gravesend was chrismated, following which she and her children received Holy Communion on having become full members of the Orthodox Church.
During the Divine Liturgy in Norfolk yesterday, Metropolitan Seraphim welcomed two Orthodox brethren who travelled all the way from Peterborough to attend the service. He also noted how lately an increasing number of people have joined the British Orthodox Fellowship because of a growing interest and respect for the Orthodox Faith. Sadly, however, whilst we have regular services in our existing churches there are still large parts of the United Kingdom where we are not able to actively minister to either Orthodox faithful or those seeking to learn more about the Orthodox faith.
As a result, Metropolitan Seraphim feels that the Church should resume its earlier practice of encouraging the establishment of Prayer & Study groups throughout the country under the patronage of the British Orthodox Fellowship. Our Lord Himself has told us that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), so if a family or two or three friends should wish to meet to study Orthodoxy and to share in prayer together, the British Orthodox Fellowship will offer them guidance to support them in their study. Indeed, the Glastonbury Confession, being the dogmatic Constitution of the Church, serves as a useful and instructive means of learning more about the Orthodox Faith. In the past such groups have proved a valuable means of fellowship and if the convener of the group eventually makes the commitment of becoming Orthodox, the British Orthodox Church can then elevate the group to Mission status and through establishing closer links with the church hierarchy; visiting existing British Orthodox communities and receiving occasional visits from the clergy, such missions are strengthened and may eventually become the source of new British Orthodox parishes.
The British Orthodox Church is committed to developing the Fellowship as a means of supporting enquirers and building up those who want to discover more about Orthodoxy. The Fellowship has been created as an open community for those people who want to experience something of Orthodox spiritual life even if they are not yet Orthodox.
On Saturday, 26 October Abba Seraphim gave a lecture at Charlton House, Greenwich at the Annual General Meeting of the Charlton Society on the life of Spencer Perceval (1762-1812), Britain’s First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister) & Chancellor of the Exchequer (1809-1812), who was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons by a former bankrupt trader who had a grievance against the government.
Spencer Perceval’s father and grandfather, the Earls of Egmont, had leased Charlton House during the eighteenth century and Spencer was brought up there, before living nearby with his brother when he courted and eventually married Jane Wilson, daughter of Charlton’s Lord of the Manor. Following his murder he was buried in the Egmont family vault at Saint Luke’s Church, where his son Henry Perceval served as Rector in 1826, and an impressive bust by Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841) is a notable monument in Charlton Church. In talking about his historical links with Charlton and his religious and political convictions, Abba Seraphim also mentioned that his son, Spencer Perceval, junior (1795-1859) was one of the Restored XII Apostles of the nineteenth century Catholic Apostolic Church.
At the end of the meeting, the Rector of Charlton, opened St. Luke’s Church to enable those present at the lecture to visit Spencer Perceval’s monument.
Issue No. 130 (October 2019) of the Glastonbury Review has just been published. This issue is 122 pages. The front and back covers carry pictures taken at the ordination of a new deaconess for the Cusworth Church, which is reported in detail along with key items of news since the last issue. The “Oriental Orthodox Church News” section contains a report of the funeral of the late Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II of Constantinople; a report on a renewed attempt to dethrone Patriarch Antonios of Eritrea and news of the current ethic and nationalist violence in Ethiopia.
Among the articles are the first part of a series on “The Enlighteners of Britain” by Hieromonk John Ives; “What about Astrology?” by Dr. David Brattstone; “Beginning with Church History” and”A Travesty of Pretended Canonicity” both by Abba Seraphim and a previously unpublisdhed article on “The Early History of the Patriarchs of Antioch” written by Abba Seraphim when he was a 19-year old Protodeacon.
The ‘Book Review’ section includes Abba Seraphim’s latest book Exiles from Eden, the sequel to his “Flesh of Our Brethren”; a rare translation of an edition of the Byzantine Rite published for the Russian ‘Living Church’; a second volume of research on Western Rites of Syriac-Malankara Orthodox Churches; a new biography of the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom by Avril Pyman; the new British Orthodox Ordinal and J. W. Klein’s scholarly The Mental Universe of the English Nonjurors. This issue concludes with an obituary of Patriarch Mesrob II of Constantinople.
Copies can be obtained directly from www.Lulu.com
On 4 June 1989 Metropolitan Seraphim ordained two deaconesses for the church at Cusworth, which was the first ordination of that ministry for over 30 years, as the only two deaconesses remaining from those earlier days were then both in their seventies and had not been involved in active ministry for many years. Sisters Elizabeth (Beresford) and Sarah (Metcalfe) – who are the two ordained in 1989 – have served faithfully at the Cusworth church for the past thirty years, but with advancing age and various health issues they have not been as active of late as previously, although they have both remained active and faithful members of the congregation at Cusworth.
On 6 October 2019 Abba Seraphim ordained Elaine Dale, who has been a member of the Cusworth congregation for nineteen years and who has been a visitor of the sick and elderly for many years, as a deaconess, giving her the name of Sister Helena in honour of the Emperor Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena (c.246-330), whom two mediaeval chronicles (Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Angloum and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae) claimed was a daughter of the King of Britain, Coel Hen of Colchester, who allied with Helena’s husband, the Caesar Constantius Chlorus to avoid more war between the Britons and Rome.
Following the Kiss of Peace in the divine Liturgy, Elaine was presented to Abba Seraphim by Deaconesses Elizabeth and Sarah.
A second cause for celebration
On 7 October Abba David, Bishop of Priddy, reached his 80th birthday and in anticipation of this Abba Seraphim hosted a thanksgiving dinner at The Boat Inn at Sprotbrough following the Raising of Evening Incense at Cusworth on Saturday, 5 October, which was attended by Abba David, Abba James, Elaine Dale and Vladimir Roze. Thanksgiving prayers were offered during the Divine Liturgy at Cusworth the following morning.
Among the several visitors who attended the Divine Liturgy to mark this double celebration was Mgr. Douglas Lewins, Archbishop of the Old Roman Catholic Church, who is a most welcome friend and guest of the church at Cusworth.