Monday 28 July 2014

Orthodox Mission Report - 28th July

Through the prayers of many faithful people it was made possible to travel quite extensively last week. It's very warm here in the UK at the moment, and driving in busy traffic can be draining, although I have found myself granted concentration and alertness by the involvement in mission which God grants me.

Nevertheless this mission is not mine alone, although I write about my own activities here, and it is one in which all of the British Orthodox shares with complete commitment. How can we be satisfied while there are people around us, members of our own British community, who have not even heard the wonderful truths of our Orthodox Faith, and have not participated in the beauty of our Orthodox worship, and do not even know that our loving God sent His own Son into the world for our salvation.

With this very much in mind I was blessed to spend a few hours with my bishop, His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim, on Monday in discussion of the missionary projects I am engaged in with other members of the British Orthodox Church. I had filled in a wall planner with all the various events, meetings and services I am committed to, and we considered together how best to develop the small communities we are establishing in different places in the British Isles.

That afternoon I drove over to Windsor and had an hour or so in conversation with one of the Orthodox community there, before leading Orthodox Evening Prayers in the Anglican Church of St Andrew. I was very pleased to be able to have time to speak with various members of the community. Often I am busy with many people and cannot easily spend time with each one, but having arrived early and stayed late in Windsor I was able to have personal conversations with many folk.

On Friday I drove over to Newbury, about a two and half hour journey, to meet with Jeremy and Emma. I'd not met them before, though I had corresponded with Jeremy for some time. We had a couple of hours together and were able to learn more about each other's journey towards Orthodoxy. Jeremy showed me around the town, and after such a positive and encouraging first meeting together we are not planning to begin a monthly Orthodox Prayer and Study event in the town as a witness to the Orthodox Faith and the beginning of a community there as God wills.

And then on Saturday I travelled to Farnham where an Orthodox Way of Prayer event had been planned for some time. In the prayerful setting of St Peter’s Church of England, Wrecclesham, Farnham, the Orthodox Way of Prayer ecumenical study day was presented for the second time by Father Peter Farrington. The beautiful little Church was made available to us thanks to the hospitality of the Revd, Anne Gell, Dean of Farnham, and the other clergy and people of St Peter’s.

The study day began with Morning Prayer from the Daily Office of the British Orthodox Church, our edition of the Agpeya of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. A series of short talks complemented by discussion and the practical experience of prayer led the participants through a reflection of some aspects of Orthodox spirituality. These included: What is Prayer? The Prayer of the Heart, Praying with Icons, and Developing a Prayer Rule.

A buffet lunch was provided for those attending the event, which gave an opportunity for warm and friendly conversations and Christian fellowship. Chris Hunter and Bronwyn Holder are to be commended for the efforts they put into making the day a success and their constant attention to the practical details of the event. It was a wonderful surprise to be able to welcome Father Simon and Sheila Smyth who supported the day and who helped to bear witness to our British Orthodoxy in all their conversations with the other participants.

The day concluded with Afternoon Prayer from the Daily Office of the British Orthodox Church. Everyone who attended seemed to have appreciated the opportunity to spend a day in thoughtful consideration of the spirituality of the Orthodox Church. This is the first activity of the British Orthodox Church in Farnham and has hopefully served as a useful introduction to our community and our mission among the people of our own British Isles.

This week I am busy preparing for a Liturgy in Windsor on Saturday morning at St Andrew's, Mill Lane, Clewer, Windsor. All are welcome of course.

And most of my time is being taken up with preparing for the first in a monthly series of Orthodox Prayer and Instruction which will begin in the Orthodox Community of St Chad in Stoke. The very first study will consider Who is Jesus Christ? and will reflect on the Scriptures and early Christian writings so that we can understand together that necessary and foundational Christian teaching, that He is the Son and Word of God incarnate, fully God and fully man.

As God wills, the materials produced for use in Stoke will also be used in the various other places where meeting for Prayer and Instruction are being planned.

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