Mary Goodchild and Bridget McConnachie represented the British Orthodox Church South Coast congregations of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth at the celebrations to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Etheldreda Anna Benett, the Reverend Mother Foundress of the Society of the Sisters of Bethany. The celebration was held on 29 July 29, the Feast of Bethany, in Saint Clement’s Church, Bournemouth where Mother Etheldreda is buried in the churchyard. His Grace Bishop Trevor Willmott (formerly Bishop of Basingstoke, then with oversight for Bournemouth) presided at the celebratory mass and service of thanksgiving, following which a memorial stone was blessed in the churchyard.
Although originally founded in Clerkenwell in 1866 (the same year as the ordination of Mar Julius as the first bishop for the British Orthodox Church) the society’s association with Bournemouth goes back well into the nineteenth century with a convent built in the 1870s and an orphanage run there for many years. The Bournemouth House of Bethany took a direct hit from an enemy bomb in the Second World War (resulting in the death of two sisters). In the early 1960s the Bournemouth House of Bethany became the Mother House for the society. This was closed in the mid 1980s and the present Mother House of Bethany opened in Southsea. The Sisters of Bethany have always been known for their ecumenical spirit (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 1890s mission to the East Syrian Christians being a famous example of their ecumenical work) and in their early years received both Russian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox visitors. This Orthodox link continues to this day with the British Orthodox Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black in Portsmouth enjoying warm relations with the Sisters of Bethany in neighbouring Southsea.
The celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Portsmouth on Saturday 12th May included the latest baptism, that of young Alexander Bahy Eladham Ramsay Mahrous. He was beautifully behaved throughout the service and beamed wonderfully when he was dressed in the miniature priest’s garments at the conclusion. This is not just a ‘nice touch’ or a good ‘photo opportunity’ but is in fact an important symbol emphasising that all the baptised are members of the “royal priesthood” (1Peter 2:9). The ordained priest does not celebrate the Liturgy on behalf of the congregation who are merely spectators – no, the ordained priest leads the celebration in which all present participate, offering the eucharist together and he may no more offer it without a congregation than the congregation may dare to offer it without an ordained priest.
Following the death of Lyndsey Clare Pratt on 26 April at the age of 48, following a long battle with cancer, her funeral was held at Sacred Heart Church in Waterlooville, Portsmouth, on 9 May. Lyndsey’s husband, David, and her two children, Hannah and Samuel are members of the British Orthodox Church and, although a Catholic, she was always very supportive of their church membership and often attended services with them. The Church was full for her Funeral Mass, which was celebrated by the parish priest, Father Kevin Bidgood. Abba Seraphim and Father Simon Smyth and several members of the BOC congregations in Bournemouth and Portsmouth also attended because of the high regard in which she was held. In his homily, Father Kevin emphasised that throughout her long illness she had shown great Christian fortitude and was determined to live her life to the full, undertaking several strenuous sponsored activities to raise funds for cancer charities and demonstrating her strong Christian Faith.
At the end of the service, Abba Seraphim was invited to intone an Orthodox Prayer of Commendation whilst at the graveside in Catherington Cemetery he led the Orthodox mourners in singing the Paschal Troparion.
On 5 May, during the regular monthly celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the British Orthodox London Mission of SS. George & Paul the Hermit at St. George-in-the-East, Shadwell, Abba Seraphim ordained Daniel Malyon as a Subdeacon. Daniel is a member of the BOC Portsmouth Parish but whilst teaching near St. Albans, has been serving as a Reader attached to the Secretariat staff, so has been serving with Abba Seraphim at Babingley, Charlton and Shadwell. A graduate in theology, he is currently studying for his Master’s degree in Orthodox Theology at the University of Winchester.
Assisting Abba Seraphim at the Liturgy were Fathers Simon Smyth and Peter Farrington as well as Deacon Theodore de Quincey. They were joined by two of Daniel’s fellow Readers from Portsmouth, James Kelly and Anthony-Paul Holland.
To mark the end of Bright Week, Abba Seraphim celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Glastonbury Abbey on 21 April. This was held in St. Patrick’s Chapel, which was built in 1512 by Abbot Richard Bere as a chapel for the women’s almshouses contiguous to the abbey. The Chapel underwent restoration in 2009-2010 with a new stained glass window by Wayne Ricketts and murals designed by Fleur Kelly, a local artist. This was made possible by a grant of £49,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Abba Seraphim was assisted by Father Simon Smyth, who preached, Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown and Reader Daniel Malyon and those attending represented British Orthodox members from the South Coast and West Country (Bristol, Glastonbury, Portsmouth and Southampton). At the conclusion of the Liturgy Subdeacon Wulfric conducted the worshippers round the Abbey ruins briefly highlighting some of the most significant historical and architectural features.
Abba Seraphim will be the celebrant at the Orthodox Liturgy on the morning of the Anglican Pilgrimage to Glastonbury on Saturday, 16 June. This will be held in the crypt of the Lady Chapel at 9.45 a.m.
- 14 December 2013
- Morning Incense & Divine Liturgy: PortsmouthMorning Incense & Divine Liturgy 10am
- 15 December 2013
- Morning Prayer: BournemouthMorning Prayer: 9.30am
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Southampton: Morning PrayerMorning Prayer (10.00) (Holy Trinity Church)
- Raising of Incense and Liturgy: ChathamRaising of Incense: 10:00 am
Divine Liturgy: 10:30 am