Wednesday 5 March 2014

Orthodox Mission in the UK - 5th March

It has been almost a couple of weeks since I last updated this account of the Orthodox missionary ministry I am fortunate to be engaged in here in the UK. I have celebrated the monthly Saturday morning Liturgy at the Orthodox Mission of St Andrew in Windsor. In the small community there I am assisted at the altar by an Egyptian man who is a Subdeacon. Our Liturgy is that of St James, rather than the usual Coptic use of St Basil, and he has done well to grow in confidence in serving in the liturgical celebration of the British Orthodox Church. After the Feast of Pascha a British man in the community will be made a Reader by our bishop, Metropolitan Seraphim, and will bring his own committed service to the Liturgy.

The Liturgy at the Orthodox Mission of St Andrew at Windsor was especially moving for me since it took place on the 5th Anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. It was an opportunity to reflect on my service to Christ in the Church and to consider how much greater and more comprehensive a commitment to the Gospel is required of me, and of us all. This Pearl of Great Price demands the sacrifice of all that we are and have and hope to be. Pray for me as I enter this sixth year of priestly service and seek to be more and more that Orthodox missionary priest I believe God is calling me to become.

I spent several hours with an enquirer. We met in Tunbridge Wells and had a lengthy conversation about the Orthodox Faith. I first came into contact with him over a year ago. A long term commitment is often required to help people understand our Faith and come to the point of wishing to be united to the Church themselves. He is now ready to become a Catechumen, thank God. And I have committed to having a telephone conversation with him once a week. As the number of Catechumens increases the responsibility to support each one places greater demands of time and prayerful concern.

Yesterday I spent an hour speaking on the telephone with another dear soul who has become a Catechumen and who is receiving instruction in preparation for her baptism. This will also be a weekly engagement for me. Since I am responsible for a number of scattered communities it is necessary to provide this sort of pastoral support and to make sure that souls are not left struggling. In a missionary ministry it is important that every person is prayed for regularly and that there is a personal contact made by telephone, email or in conversation as often as possible. Many hours a day must be spent in such communications, each soul is precious.

Much of my activity in this past week has been in preparation for the Orthodox Way of Prayer event which is taking place in Stoke on Trent on Saturday March 15th as part of the missionary work in that place. This is a study day which I am organising to share our Orthodox spirituality with as many people as possible. There is still much to be done, not only the various short talks to be completed, but all of the teaching materials to be produced, and arrangements for refreshments and a light lunch. Please pray earnestly for all of these preparations.

I am also trying to complete a new edition of the collection of readings and spiritual materials I published some years ago as Our Daily Life. I am adding some additional materials and hope to have some examples of this little volume available for participants at the Orthodox Way of Prayer. So I do not have much time left to complete the revisions and order some copies.

At the moment I am also trying to find a cartoonist! I am beginning work on an 8 page, colour, magazine format introduction to our Faith and to Jesus Christ, which will be used in missionary work among the Gypsy/Traveller community here in the UK, but also among ordinary British people who know nothing about the Christian Gospel. I need a cartoonist to produce some graphics of an Orthodox priest, and of a British man and woman, so that they can be used throughout this publication to introduce questions and answers about Christianity. If you are a cartoonist or know one who would help in this way then do please contact me.

Finally, I am still prayerfully investigating the possibility of organising a Liturgy in Oxford. A venue has not yet been made available, so please pray that God will provide in accordance with his will. There are many churches and chapels in the city. Where does God will for us to celebrate an English language liturgy? Pray that his will be done.

Will you pray for these ministries? Pray for...
  • The growing number of regular meetings and conversations with Catechumens
  • The Orthodox Way of Prayer event in Stoke on Trent
  • The provision of a venue for an English language liturgy in Oxford
  • The development of diaconal ministry in the Orthodox mission in Windsor
  • The ministry among immigrant Orthodox in the Orthodox church in Chatham

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