Ably supported by Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown, Father Simon Smyth represented His Eminence Abba Seraphim, Metropolitan of Glastonbury, at this year’s Glastonbury Pilgrimage.
Prior to the Anglican Mass there is a celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Undercroft of Glastonbury Abbey. The British Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Churches celebrate the Divine Liturgy on alternate years and this year the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was celebrated by Mitred Archpriest Father Benedict Ramsden and members of his Russian Orthodox community. The British Orthodox Church is always represented, however, as we are keen to show fraternal support for our fellow Orthodox on this occasion. This was especially pleasing this year as Father Benedict was also celebrating this weekend the fortieth anniversary of his ordination as priest. Father Benedict referred more than once to the suffering and persecuted Coptic Church and showed the British Orthodox clergy the same deep respect he always does on these occasions.
Owing to Father Benedict having to depart straight after the Divine Liturgy Father Simon and Subdeacon Wulfric were the only Orthodox clergy to attend the Solemn Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at which His Grace the Right Reverend John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth and Chairman of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association presided. The Bishop of Plymouth publicly expressed his appreciation for Father Benedict having celebrated the Liturgy even though he had been unable to stay for the Mass and also welcomed both British Orthodox clergy, announcing that Father Simon was representing Metropolitan Seraphim and expressing his joy that we could be together for the pilgrimage, united by our common baptism. The homily was preached by His Grace the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter.
The rain which had fallen to some extent during the Divine Liturgy and to a far greater extent during the Solemn Mass held off for the procession through Glastonbury which was largely bathed in sunshine. Come rain or shine, though, it was a joyful day and seemed generally appreciated and valued by all present.
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.