The recent visit of His Holiness Mar Basilius Mar Thoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, to England, was not only a great blessing for the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom but also a significant ecumenical event. His visit marked a number of historic anniversaries: 80 years since the first celebration of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Qurbana in the Chapel of King’s College, London; 75 years since H.H.The Catholicos, Mar Baselios Geeverghese II visited the UK in 1937; 60 years since the Malayalee migration to the UK and 40 years since the formation of the St. Gregorios Congregation in London.
Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Subdeacon Daniel Malyon and Reader Trevor Maskery, attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Catholicos at St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Brockley on Sunday, 8 September, and assisted in the liturgical celebration and the parochial speeches and festivities which followed.
On Monday, 9 September a Banquet of some 90 guests was held to honour the Catholicos at Lambeth Palace. In the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe (The Right Rev. Geoffrey Rowell) and Southwark (The Right Rev. Christopher Chessum) acted as hosts. Representatives of all the major churches were present as well as many leading members of the Malayalee community in the UK and friends of the Indian Orthodox Church. The British Orthodox Church was represented by Abba Seraphim, Father Peter Farrington and Father & Mrs. Simon Smyth.
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)
On 18 May, Abba Seraphim attended Evensong at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chapel at Lambeth Palace, followed by the Annual Ecumenical Reception by the Nikaean Club in the Guard Room. As the Archbishop was absent abroad, the Bishop of Wakefield (The Right Rev’d Stephen Platten) presided. The sermon was preached by The Rev’d Dr. David Chapman, Minister of London Road Methodist Church, Horsham and a member of the Joint Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church. The commemoration traditionally takes place on the Eve of the Feast of St. Dunstan (909-988), Archbishop of Canterbury, which is significant for the British Orthodox Church as St. Dunstan had earlier served as Abbot of Glastonbury. Other Oriental Orthodox hierarchs present were: His Eminence Archbishop Mor Athanasius Touma of the Syrian Orthodox Church and His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
A meeting of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum took place at Lambeth Palace on 15 June 2010.
This forum exists to promote contacts between the Anglican and Oriental Orthodox communities in the UK, and to provide a context in which discussions about the practical and spiritual challenges facing both communions can take place.
At this last meeting His Grace Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church was nominated as the Oriental Orthodox co-chairman, and Father Peter Farrington of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate was nominated the Oriental Orthodox co-secretary.
Other Orthodox bishops present were His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of the British Orthodox Church, and His Grace Archbishop Athanasios of the Syrian Orthodox Church, together with Bishop Geoffrey Rowell of Gibraltar in Europe, the Anglican co-chairman. Other Oriental Orthodox clergy represented their churches while the Anglican participation included a number of priests, including Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s chaplain and ecumenical officer.
A fruitful conversation took place among the representative Anglican and Oriental Orthodox bishops and priests, and plans were discussed for the future direction and membership of the Forum. The forum usually meets trwice a year.