Monday 2 June 2014

Coptic Orthodox Mission in the UK Report - June 2nd

During the first half of 2014 there have been many exciting developments in the Mission of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. God is at work in the UK and British people are becoming members of the Orthodox Church through our missionary ministry as God leads us and grants us the opportunity to explain our Orthodox Faith with those who are seeking the abundant life which God calls all men to enjoy. The British Orthodox Church was given the mission of bringing our Coptic Orthodox Faith to British people by His Holiness Pope Shenouda of blessed memory. This report focuses especially on the activities in which Father Peter Farrington is involved.

Perhaps the most significant missionary event so far this year will take place on Saturday, 7th June, at St Paul's Church, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, when five British men and women will be baptised and chrismated to become members of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. At the same Liturgy two other men will be received into the catechumenate, beginning their own journey towards baptism. This wonderful event will establish the missionary Orthodox Community of St Chad in Stoke.

But more has been happening, and is happening in this Orthodox Missionary ministry of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Here is an outline of current news for the interest of our friends and supporters.

Windsor - Orthodox Community of St Andrew

The Liturgy is being celebrated once a month in Windsor, and the Raising of Incense also takes place on one evening a month. The community here continues to attract those who are interested in learning about our Orthodox Faith. To encourage further enquirers to make contact with the community the study event - The Orthodox Way of Prayer - is being held here in Windsor in September. As many local Christians and others as possible will be invited to participate in this event which allows non-Orthodox to gain an understanding of aspects of Orthodox spirituality. On June 14th one of the lay members of the Orthodox Community of St Andrew will be ordained a Reader by Metropolitan Seraphim to support the development and growth of the missionary ministry here and to allow for additional services of prayer to take place.

Stoke - Orthodox Community of St Chad

Father Peter Farrington has been visiting Stoke for some months, supporting a group of enquirers as many of them have become catechumens, and are now preparing for baptism at a Liturgy on June 7th, at St Paul's Church, Burslem in Stoke on Trent. Earlier this year the study event - The Orthodox Way of Prayer - was organised at St Paul's, and attracted a varied audience of participants, including those from Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant backgrounds. A first Liturgy was also celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim, during which five men and women were received into the catechumenate. Guests included many Anglican and Catholic clergy, and the Anglican Bishop of Stafford.

After the first baptisms have taken place, and the latest catechumens have been received, Father Peter will be supporting the Orthodox Community of St Chad by visiting almost on a weekly basis to provide teaching and to celebrate the Liturgy. Stoke is some distance and this will require a 7 hour drive on each occasion. The community are committed to missionary work and engagement with the social needs of the city and there are already many plans for activities among their neighbours.

Some of the projects being considered are a distribution of home baked bread as part of the Bread of Life mission activity; an evangelistic exhibition of Christian Art; and a second study day.

Chatham - Orthodox Community of St Alban and St Athanasius

This is the local mission parish for Father Peter Farrington. There are a steady flow of Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe and other Orthodox countries who enjoy worshipping in English in our friendly and welcoming community, but due to the constraints of their working patterns - often being employed at weekends - not always able to attend regularly. The Liturgy is celebrated every Sunday for a small community of mixed ethnicity.

It is important for us to reach out to British people with our Orthodox Gospel, and so the study event - The Orthodox Way of Prayer - is being organised here in Chatham during November with the intention of encouraging participation from local British people.

London - Orthodox Community of St George and St Paul the Hermit

The London mission is continuing to celebrate the Liturgy once a month, and to offer a monthly patristic study which has a growing participation. His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim, and other clergy of the British Orthodox Church support this missionary community with Father Peter Farrington. In July a major celebration of the 20th anniversary of the union of the British Orthodox Church with the Coptic Orthodox Church will be held at the Church of St George and St Paul, Shadwell, and a great many non-Orthodox guests will be invited.

The study event - The Orthodox Way of Prayer - will also be organised at this mission community in October with the intention of encouraging the participation of non-Orthodox people from across London.

UK Wide - Mission Developments

Father Peter Farrington is presently organising the study event - The Orthodox Way of Prayer - in the town of Farnham in Surrey. This will provide an opportunity to identify people in the area who are interested in further study of the Orthodox Faith. A first Liturgy will be celebrated in Farnham after the event has taken place as the beginning of an Orthodox community here.

There are also plans for missionary work in the city of Oxford. Father Peter Farrington has received a first catechumen in this place and is visiting him to provide support in preparation for baptism, and to determine the opportunities for further work here. He is presently organising a first Liturgy which will take place in an Anglican church in the city before the Summer.

Father Peter Farrington has just returned from leading a group of Orthodox pilgrims to the South-West of England, where a number of important sites associated with early Christianity in Britain were visited. These included the shrine of St Wite at the church of Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset. During the pilgrimage a small church in Exeter was identified as a possible location for a first Liturgy to be celebrated later this year as part of a missionary outreach programme.

There are many people in the UK and around the world who contact our missionary church seeking advice and instruction. Father Peter Farrington spends several hours each day in correspondence, and in telephone conversations with such enquirers. It is this continuing support of individuals which leads to the possibility of developing local missionary activities and communities.

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