At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy at the Church of Christ the Saviour, Winton, Bournemouth, on 18 October 2015, Abba Seraphim dedicated a brass memorial plaque to his late Mother, Joyce Edwards, who died last December. Although attached to the former Trotton Mission when she was living at Liphook, in Hampshire, she and Abba Seraphim’s step-father, Peter Edwards, were regular visitors to the Bournemouth Church over many years. At her request she was buried in the nearby Wimborne Road cemetery and her husband’s ashes, which had rested in the Cinerarium at the Bournemouth Church following his death, were later interred in the grave with Abba Seraphim’s mother.
Deacon Mark Saunders celebrated the 90th anniversary of his birth on 18 October 2015 with the congregation at St. Felix, Babingley, who offered him their congratulations as well as heartfelt thanksgiving for his ministry among them. As Abba Seraphim was visiting the Bournemouth congregation, he was unable to attend, but he sent his own message of appreciation, saluting him as “an indefatigable churchman and a faithful friend,” which was read out after the liturgy.
Noting that Deacon Mark and his late wife, Sybil, were founding members of the Orthodox community which worships at St. Felix, Babingley, Abba Seraphim observed that he was in fact “the constant servant upon whom the continued ministry of this community has depended.” Noting that the commemoration in the Synaxarion read that day was for James the Deacon, one of the original clergy who accompanied the Augustinian mission to England in 597. He later joined St. Paulinus in re-establish the Christian church in York and when Penda defeated King Edwin and re-established paganism, the clergy retreated south, but not James, who alone remained to exercise pastoral oversight over the remains of the mission. “So it has been with Deacon Mark, who in the absence of a resident priest in Babingley, has been the responsible person for both the church fabric and the flock. Bishops and priests may come to officiate but it is Deacon Mark who remains the respected father of this community.” Abba Seraphim also spoke of the “total support and encouragement” received from Deacon Mark, whose practical skills and general wisdom would be an invaluable asset to any community.
To mark the occasion the congregation made a presentation of an icon of St. Mark the Apostle and a celebratory tea followed the presentation and speeches.
Following the Good Friday services in Charlton, Abba Seraphim travelled to Babingley where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy for Joyous Saturday, 30 April, during which he also taught on the significance of our Lord preaching “to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter III:19). Following the Liturgy, he prayed for the sick and blessed traditional paschal food which had been brought to the church.
From Babingley Abba Seraphim made two pastoral visits to Holbeach and to Lincoln before travelling on to Cusworth for the Paschal Vigil and the late night Divine Liturgy with candlelight procession, where he was assisted by Father David Seeds and Archdeacon James Maskery. Here he preached to a packed congregation on the radiance of the Lord’s resurrection and its significance for creation. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, he blessed more traditional paschal food and those present also broke their fast in a festive late-night supper.