A fifth edition of The Glastonbury Confession has just been issued by the British Orthodox Press, some sixty-five years after it was first published by the late Metropolitan Georgius (1905-1979).
In 1994, when the British Orthodox Church united with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Protocol determining our relations simply stated that the British Orthodox Church “confesses the same faith as the Coptic Orthodox Church and rejects all that the Coptic Orthodox Church rejects.” Although the late Pope Shenouda III accepted the Confession as a sound exposition of our Orthodoxy, it was no longer deemed necessary to have a distinctive statement of faith, and it was accordingly withdrawn from circulation. However, in 2015, when the British Orthodox Church returned to its status as an autocephalous jurisdiction, the need to express our faith clearly and unambiguously necessitated the re-adoption of The Glastonbury Confession as the Dogmatic Constitution of the British Orthodox Church.
In publishing a fifth edition the only change made from the fourth edition is in Article 3 of Chapter VI, where previously seven councils were recognised as ecumenical, a tradition derived from Bishop Julius of Iona in 1866, despite the church’s original Apostolic Succession deriving from the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. Without impugning the integrity of the faith of those Orthodox Churches recognising seven councils as ecumenical, the British Orthodox Church professes only three, desiring to continue as a jurisdiction faithfully adhering to the Oriental Orthodox tradition and venerating her predecessors and fathers among the saints who rejected the Council of Chalcedon of A.D. 451. Indeed, the church’s understanding of these differences fully accords with the Second Agreed Statements and Recommendations agreed by the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, held at Chambésy, Switzerland, 23-28 September 1990; whereby both families accept the first three Oecumenical Councils and, in relation to the four later Councils of the Orthodox Church, the interpretations provided by the Orthodox Church in the Second Agreed Statement are ones which the Oriental Orthodox tradition can respond to positively.
The Confession contains some ninety-one articles, divided into ten chapters dealing with God and His Creation; Divine Revelation; the Person and Work of Christ; the Person and Work of the Holy Ghost and Grace; the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition; Charism of Office in the Church; Divine Worship and the Sacramental Life; Life in Christ and Eschatology. It is a valuable exposition of the Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Faith of Undivided Christendom which can be useful for catechesis among enquirers, wishing to learn more about Orthodoxy.
The Glastonbury Confession is a 106-page paperback. Copies can be ordered either directly from the British Orthodox Church Secretariat, 10 Heathwood Gardens, Charlton, London, SE7 8EP for £9.95 plus £2.99 postage (U.K. only) or online from Lulu.com for £9.95 plus postage (UK and abroad).
The British Orthodox Press has also just republished Abba Seraphim’s Root and Branch. The Canonicity and Regularity of The British Orthodox Church. This was first published in 1992 and argued the basis for the independence of the BOC. It was highly acclaimed at the time, but was withdrawn in 1994 following the union of the BOC with the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Now that the BOC is once again independent, it has been reissued and updated, with some rare historical photographs, which were not in the first edition.
The first chapter examines the early church’s concept of the “local church”, whilst the second examines the historical development of Orthodoxy & the British Isles. Citing numerous authorities, subsequent chapters review issues of Succession & Continuity; the Syriac missions of Bishops Julius Ferrette and Timotheos Vilatte as well as the outreach of other Eastern and Orthodox churches. Abba Seraphim also recounts the Struggle for Orthodox Mission, citing the ministries of Father Stephen Hatherly, Louis Winnaert, Bishop Jean Kovalevsky, Reuban Spartas, Archbishop Aftimeos Ofiesh, Alexander Tyler Turner and the Evangelical Orthodox Church. His final chapter recounts details of the BOC’s union with the Alexandrian Patriarchate.
The Seraphic Press has just published a rare study of small episcopal churches, which was written by the late Metropolitan Georgius of Glastonbury when he was still a layman. The Ecclesiastical Underworld is the first systematic attempt to chart the origins and progress of the smaller episcopal churches which appeared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was originally serialised in a north London newspaper, The Bowes Park Weekly News in 1935, with a print run of just a few thousand. It is the progenitor of many later studies and therefore predates Brandreth’s Episcopi Vagantes and the Anglican Church (1947 & 1961) and Peter Anson’s Bishops at Large (1964) by many years.
Hugh George de Willmott Newman (1905-1979) was well known in and around Southgate, where he had been an active worker both in national and municipal politics and a regular lecturer & writer in the local press. He had either personally met or corresponded with a number of episcopi and, some three years after completing his series, he was himself ordained to the priesthood. His study begins with introductory sections on the Apostolic Succession, the nature of Holy Orders and the origins of some of the ancient Christian communities, such as the Nestorians and the Jacobites, as well as the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian and Old Catholic churches from which many of these successions derived. It also details the emergence of the work of Archbishop Alvarez in Ceylon, Archbishop Vilatte in America, Bishop Vernon Herford & the Evangelical Catholic Communion, Archbishop Mathew & the Old Roman Catholics, the Liberal Catholic schism and the Apostolic Episcopal Church under Bishop A.W. Brooks.
The Ecclesiastical Underworld 98 pp + illus. Paperback £8. Copies can be obtained from Lulu.com