On Saturday, 22nd December, Father Peter Farrington attended the Evening Prayers and Carol Service of the Indian Orthodox Church of St Gregorios, Brockley, London. He had been invited to give a homily to the congregation by Father Thomas John, and was very pleased indeed to be able to spend an evening in the company of fellow Orthodox Christians.
The evening began with the regular prayers of the Indian Orthodox tradition, offered in English, at which Father Peter assisted Father Thomas John. Then a programme of English carols, and songs in Malayalam had been organised, with a Nativity Play performed by the younger members of the congregation.
The range of talent in the congregation was most impressive and it seemed that there were three or four different choirs of great ability, which together with the enthusiastic performances of the children of the congregation made for a most delightful evening. At one point a choir of deacons sang some of the traditional Malayalam hymns of the Church and were joined by Father Thomas John and Father Mathew Abraham.
Father Peter spoke on the theme of Christ becoming man as the Prince of Peace, and particularly reflected on the prophecy of Isaiah and the angelic proclamation to the shepherds.
At the end of the evening Father Christmas distributed gifts to the excited children, and Father Peter was then fortunate to be able to share in some of the excellent and authentic Indian food which the hospitable community provided. This was a most enjoyable evening, and the opportunity to share in fellowship with the Indian Orthodox clergy and faithful was a most blessed beginning to the Nativity season.
This year’s Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Reception, held at Lambeth Palace on 28 November, marked the retirement of the Most Rev’d Rowan Williams from the See of Canterbury. Abba Seraphim and Father Peter Farrington were among the many ecumenical guests attending to show their appreciation for the past decade of Dr. Williams’s ministry. The evening began with Common Worship Evening Prayer conducted in the Archbishop’s Chapel at which Dr. Williams preached the homily, followed by a Reception in the Guard Room, organised by the Nikaean Club. Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford introduced the archbishop with an entertaining and anecdotal speech, following which Dr. Williams spoke of the considerable progress and deepening of ecumenical relationships over the past few decades and how it would continue to have increasing influence in the future.
On 22 November Abba Seraphim, Father Peter Farrington and Reader Trevor Maskery attended the annual Constantinople Lecture held at Lambeth Palace. This year’s lecture was delivered by His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Church in the UK & Ireland, on the subject, “The New Testament Apocrypha and The Armenian Church Canon of the Bible.” The lecture, which was organised by the Anglican & Eastern Churches Association in conjunction with the Nikaean Club, was preceded by Choral Evensong in the Archbishop’s Chapel for St. Cecilia’s Day. Following the lecture all those present sat down for supper in the Palace’s Guard Room .
The full text of Bishop Vahan’s talk is published in the current issue of the Anglican & Eastern Churches Association journal, Koinonia, New Series No. 60 (All Saintstide 2012)
The new series of monthly meetings under the auspices of the British Orthodox London Mission at Shadwell got off to a good start with a well-attended session on The Didache on 18 October. This was the first of an Introductory Course of Study and Discussion of the earliest Patristic sources under the title, “The Apostolic Fathers.” Abba Seraphim led the discussion and study and Father Peter Farrington will follow up with the second in the series on “St. Ignatius of Antioch” on Thursday, 15 November at 7.30 p.m.
The British Orthodox London Mission of SS George & St. Paul meets at St. George-in-the-East, Cannon Street Road, London, E1 0BH (nearest station Shadwell DLR). The next Liturgy will be on Saturday, 3 November, the day before the Altar Ballot in Cairo to select the new Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria.
On the evening of Thursday 11 October, Fr. Peter Farrington and Subdeacon Daniel Malyon represented the British Orthodox Church at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. This was held at Heythrop College and organised by the Society for Ecumenical Studies. The event involved talks by the Most Rev’d Kevin McDonald, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, and the Rev’d Dr James Hawkey, a Minor Canon of Westminster Abbey, on the state of ecumenism in the fifty years following the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church.
Archbishop Kevin Mcdonald looked at his experiences working with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (later renamed The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity). He covered key parts of the development of Rome’s Ecumenical relationships with the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Anglicans as well as a number of protestant groups. He then went on to discuss the Roman Catholic policy towards other religions, especially Judaism. The talk was well received due to its in-depth detail and the relevance of his experience in the field.
This was followed by Rev’d Dr James Hawkey, who responded to the talk by highlighting the gains and challenges to be faced in the future of the movement. This talk also looked at the social challenges we are facing as Christian communities, such as the varying approaches to secularism and the vastly changing modern society.
The two talks were followed by observations from Methodist and United reformed Church ministers and some very well thought out questions from the audience which tackled the issues of the role of women in Roman Catholicism, inter-faith dialogue and grass-roots responses to the Ecumenical movement. These reminded us again of the many issues facing all Christian communities in the modern world.
Altogether, the night was extremely educational and informative for all there, from those who have been involved in ecumenical relations for decades to those who are new to the concept. It also demonstrated the willingness of the Christian Community to come together and work to understand each other and our shared Christian faith without compromising on their own values and practices, which is the key value of the movement itself.