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.
The 2010 Oriental Orthodox festival was held at St. George’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral at Stevenage on 8 May with the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Grace Bishop Angaelos and His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim with priests of the British, Coptic, Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox Church, supported by many deacons of these churches. The British Orthodox clergy who attended were Fathers Simon Smyth, Seraphim Mina and Peter Farrington with Archdeacon Alexander Astill, Deacon Mark Saunders and Deacon Theodore de Quincey. They were supported by faithful from the British Orthodox parishes and communities at Babingley, Bournemouth, Charlton, Chatham, Cusworth and Portsmouth.
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On my journey towards the British Orthodox Church, I found myself in a situation where I was very much alone. This was due to the fact that the BOC had no congregation or mission within a two hour journey of my home. Consequently, with Gods help, I looked for and found the Birmingham Coptic Centre, which is only a ten mile drive from where I live. The journey takes about twenty minutes. I phoned the Coptic Centre and spoke with Fr Peter. I explained the situation and asked if I could see him. Fr Peter had previously met Abba Seraphim, and has great Christian love and respect for him.
I now attend the Coptic Centre almost every Sunday. My experience is that the Coptic Christians have been warm and generous in their acceptance of me. Furthermore, they seem oblivious to any distinction between the Coptic and BOC Churches. I enjoy their look of amazement as I explain to them who we are. And I am frequently told that we are the same Church, which is very encouraging.
On Tuesday 4th May, I was baptised at the Birmingham Coptic Centre on behalf of Abba Seraphim and the BOC, by the Coptic Priest Fr Peter. Two English members of the congregation came along to support me. I also received much encouragement and emails from the Coptic Christians.
A new British Orthodox Fellowship group is about to commence. And I believe that Coptic Christians will support this venture. After all, it is our responsibility to bring the “Good News” to the people of this country. And as the task is so great, we need all the prayers and help that we can get.
Keith Bailey – Midlands Fellowship
As members and clergy of St Alban’s British Orthodox Church in Chatham we had felt that we should be organising a regular activity to allow members of the British Orthodox Fellowship in our area to experience something of our Christian life, as indeed was the purpose of the Fellowship being introduced.
So far we have welcomed visitors to two Study Evenings. The first was held in November and had as its topic, ‘The Jesus Prayer’. The second has just taken place and the topic was ‘Praying with Icons’. Read more ►