Father Michael Ainsworth, Rector of St. George-in-the-East Church at Shadwell for the past seven years, decided to mark his retirement on 28 September with a traditional Anglican Evensong for Michaelmas, the feast of his patron, to which members of his congregation were invited as well as clergy and friends from neighbouring parishes and across the ecumenical spectrum. As ‘tenants’ of the Church, the British Orthodox London Mission was also anxious to share in the fond farewell of a priest they have come to respect and love and Abba Seraphim attended with some of his Orthodox parishioners. During the three years during which there has been Orthodox worship in his church, Father Michael has attended many liturgies and, afterwards, shared the antidoran he has received with his own congregation the next morning. In recognition of this symbolic fellowship, Abba Seraphim baked a traditional Coptic Archangel Michael bread and presented it to Father Michael, who immediately placed it with the celebratory food marking his retirement. Father Michael and his wife, Janina, will be returning to their northern roots when Janina becomes Rector of St. Maxentius, Bradshaw, in Bolton.
On 15 July, Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Subdeacon Wulfric (Paul) Ashdown and Trevor Maskery, attended the morning Eucharist at St. George-in-the-East, Shadwell, to celebrate the anniversary of the church’s dedication in 1729. It also provided a suitable opportunity for members of the local congregation to meet representatives of the British Orthodox Church, who have been worshipping at their church for the past few months.
Apart from a formal welcome from Canon Michael Ainsworth, the Rector, they were warmly greeted by all present and afterwards participated in a festive barbecue in the Rectory Garden, where they were later joined by the Archdeacon of Hackney (The Venerable Rachel Treweek) who expressed her delight that the Orthodox London Mission was worshipping at St. George’s Church and the Rev’d Janina Ainsworth, (also the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer), who had officiated at the morning service. After many months of uncertain weather and heavy rain, the weather remained dry and, as it was St. Swithun’s day, the hope was expressed that if it held off the old legend of 40 days of dry weather might ensue. It also being Trevor Maskery’s birthday, Father Michael very kindly had the church tower opened for him so that his wish to climb it might be granted. In this he was joined by Abba Seraphim and Subdeacon Wulfric.