His Eminence Archbishop Abune Zana Markos of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Exile, died 13 February 2010

Born on 1 November 1937 in Dega Melza in the district of Ebenat, Gondar, Ethiopia, the future Archbishop was the son of Begosew Wiolde Tsadek and his wife, Genet Wolde Giorgis. He was educated in the rites of the church from childhood and by the age of twelve had become proficient in the church psalmody, hymnody and diaconal functions. He entered   St. Hanna’s Monastery in Debre Sina to learn the Divine Liturgy from the prominent scholar, Memhir Abba Wolde Semaet.

He was sent by the late Patriarch Theophilus to Greece to complete his graduate studies, following which he took his master’s degree in divinity. He was then ordained a deacon by the late Archbishop Michael of Gondor and joined the monastery of  Debra Libanos. From there he went to Zequala monastery where he became a monk with the blessings of Memhir Wolde Selassie and was ordained a priest serving as chief administrator in various monasteries and churches across the country. In this regard, remarkable to note is his extraordinary service at Kulubi Saint Gabriel Church in the province of Harar. After finishing his graduate studies in Greece, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church assigned him the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem. Soon afterwards His afterwards, on 21 January, 1979 he was consecrated as a bishop, and later became the Archbishop of Wolega Diocese in Western Ethiopia. He served diligently his congregation in Wolega with profound love and dedication for six years. In 1985 to 1991, His Eminence was elected twice as deputy Patriarch under His Holiness Abune Tekle Haimanot, the third Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and also under His Holiness Abune Merkorewos, the fourth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

In 1991, the current Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power and Abuna Merkorewos, who had been Patriarch under the Dergue, was “retired.”  During the interregnum Archbishop Zana Markos served as the chairman of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church until 1992 when Abune Paulos, who had been living in America as an exile from the Dergue, was elected Patriarch. and Archbishop Zana Markos went to Kenya. He later went to the U.S.A. where he joined a Synod in Exile under Abune Merkorewos and established his Bishopric See at Mekane Birhan St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, where he resided and served for over 16 years. On 3 February 2007 he and the fellow members of the Synod in Exile were formally excommunicated by Patriarch Paulos and the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Recognised by  many as an outstanding and charismatic churchman his life is typical of the tragic consequences of state interference in ecclesiastical affairs. The recent healing of schisms within the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches, brought about by the same causes, are enouraging signs that Christians can overcome such divisions. It is be devoutly hoped for that the day will soon come when all Ethiopian Orthodox faithful will be united in harmony under one ecclesiastical allegiance.


His Eminence Archbishop Dirair Mardikian, Primate of the Armenian Dioceses of Romania and Bulgaria, died in Sofia, Bulgaria 11 May 2010

Dikran Mardikian was born in Beirut, Lebanon on 24 May 1930. He received his advanced education in the Sahakian and Abgarian Colleges of Beirut.

From 1944 to 1947 he was a student at the Jarangavoratz Theological Seminary at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In 1947 he emigrated to Armenia with his parents and settled in Yerevan. The same year he enrolled in the Institute of Foreign Languages of Yerevan, attending courses in the Department of English Language. He left the Institute and entered the Gevorkian Seminary at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. He was ordained to the diaconate on 1 November, 1951. In 1952 he graduated from the Seminary with honours and was appointed as the Secretary of the Seminary. During his student years in both Jerusalem and Etchmiadzin, he excelled in his studies.

He was ordained as a celibate priest in April, 1955 in the St. Hripsime Church in Vagharshapat by His Grace Bishop Sahak Der-Hovhannisian, and given the priestly name of Dirair. After his ordination, he was appointed to serve as the Armenian spiritual pastor of Baku, Azerbaijan and served as the secretary of the Diocesan Council. In October of 1956 he received the rank of Archimandrite (Vardapet) in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, by  Catholicos Vasken I of All Armenians. He also defended his final theses on the subject “The Idea of Peace in the Old Armenian Literature”.

In 1957 he was appointed as the Primate Vicar of the Armenian Diocese of Azerbaijan. In 1958, by the order of His Holiness Vasken I, he paid a pastoral visit to the Armenian Dioceses of Romania and Bulgaria and in the autumn of the same year he was elected the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Azerbaijan. He served in this position up until to 1960, when he was elected to serve as the Primate of the Armenian Dioceses of Romania and Bulgaria. In October 1964 he was presented with the order of “Astgh” (“Star”) and later seven other decorations as well as a high order by The World Peace Council.

He was consecrated to the episcopate  on 29 November, 1964 by Catholicos Vasken I and in February 1980 was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.


John Robert Tomkys Douglas, OBE, died at his home at Canford Cliffs, Poole, Dorset, on 13 June 2010 after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 79 years old.

Born at Tamworth in Staffordshire in 1930, he married Sheila Varey in 1957 and together they enjoyed over half a century of devoted married life, with the blessing of loving children and grandchildren.

Abba Seraphim first met John Douglas when he was invited to become an advisor and later a member of the Development Advisory Council of Sat-7, the Christian TV channel broadcasting to the Middle East. At that time John was the Chairman of Sat-7 Trust Limited. John combined his long business experience with a deep desire to support disadvantaged and persecuted Christians throughout the world and also enabling the Gospel to be preached to people in their own language. From that time he and Abba Seraphim became firm friends and he was always happy to support specific cases of need brought to his attention as well as Coptic and Syriac causes. Himself an Evangelical Christian he had a deep love and respect for the ancient Orthodox churches and valued his contacts with these churches. He was also a generous benefactor to the British Orthodox Church and when the Church in Chatham was bought he made a substantial donation towards its refurbishment, noting that as a National Service officer in the Royal Engineers he had done part of his training in Chatham.

Although accomplished in so many ways, John was completely unassuming and his many acts of generosity were done in secret so that  those who benefitted would never even have known his name. In sending condolences to his widow and family, Abba Seraphim said he felt privileged to have known John, whose life was an example of Christian living and he commended his soul to God, praying for his repose and that all those who mourned his loss would be comforted.

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