Do we need another Orthodox Blog? Well perhaps the world doesn't, but this will be the only one published by a priest of the British Orthodox Church so maybe it can be excused. More than that, this will be something of a record of my experiences as a new priest within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, since I was only ordained ten days ago.
Last Sunday was my first opportunity to celebrate the Liturgy, and it was a great pleasure to be doing so in my own small Church of St Alban and St Athanasius in Chatham, Kent. And especially so because our bishop, Abba Seraphim, was standing with me and helping me through each part of the service. Celebrating as a priest is a very different experience to that of serving as a Deacon. There is just no time or opportunity to look around and make sure things are happening as they should. Your whole attention is directed towards praying the Liturgy on behalf of and with the congregation, rather than just saying the words. I found myself holding out a hand and miraculously a censer appeared at the right time. I must say how important it is to the proper celebration of the Liturgy that the deacons are present and aware of the practical needs of the priest.
Last Sunday saw our small Church almost filled with people from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. British people of course, and Ethiopians, Eritreans, Indians, Bulgarians, Poles and Italians. Even though we are called the British Orthodox Church, our mission is to reach all of the communities which have made a home in the British Isles with the fulness of the Orthodox Faith, and God seems to be helping us to do that in a small way in Chatham.