British Orthodox Church returns to non-canonical status

I'm sure this news has been made widely known to most people by now. While there are many questions and concerns as I have them too, I ask that we all pray for the unity of the church and not use this as an opportunity to vent at a sensitive situation. 
There are people all over social media now who are using this news to spin the old reel of "we need to reform" or "see what we do to foreigners" etc. Then there are those with an agenda who've already been away from the church and are basking in this news with smiles from ear to ear. Lets not give the devil a chance. He delights in division.

Fr Peter Farrington was especially adamant in his position that the Coptic Orthodox Church isn't at fault at all and other circumstances guided these decisions. I myself am saddened and hurt for what happened. It feels like a child has left the warm embrace of his parents and won't be coming back. Ever since their reception in 1994 the BOC has been a faithful witness in the UK and we hope that things are mitigated in the future.

I ask that we all approach this matter with delicacy, maturity and most of all, Godliness. Although unfortunate, this is nothing new, as the EO church has had many schisms over the years that leave and come back. The history of the church as a whole also tells of unfortunate parting of ways and we must continue our efforts to reunite all the faithful with zeal and love. No decision is ever permanent for God can heal and unite anyone at any time or place.


  • Can someone please provide some more details on the BOC status to the COC before the union in 1994? 
  • Excellent statement, Tobit.
  • Why does it matter? 

    Are they any more or any less Orthodox by leaving the Coptic Synod? 
  • I second @Kahan question. What makes their status 'uncanonical'?
  • Very very sad news. 

    The reason why this has happened needs to be made public. It has ramifications: it means we are most likely not allowed to have communion at the BOC. 

    Is that the case?

    What's going on?? 

  • The reason why this has happened are not really relevant. The announcement says clearly that the BOC is no longer part of the Coptic Orthodox Church and is no longer in communion with any of the Orthodox Churches. I am not sure that any here on tasbeha have ever attended BOC services so that is not really a live issue. But the fact is that the BOC is no longer part of the OO communion.
  • Dear Fr Peter,

    I felt it was relevant as perhaps it means that Copts cannot have communion at the BOC? 

    If Copts can still have communion at the BOC, then great. 
  • The BOC is not part of the Orthodox communion anymore. I have just said that and the statement says that. Did you ever have communion in a BOC Church before it left Orthodoxy?
  • Fr Peter,

    With all due respect, if you read Kahan's statement, he deduced , as well as myself,and most likely everyone else, that the BOC has only parted from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate; not from Orthodoxy.

    Yes, I read the statement from the BOC website: it states clearly that they've returned to their pre-1994 status. 

    So as far as I can see: @Kahan's statement makes some wrong assumptions, when he writes:

    Why does it matter? 

    Are they any more or any less Orthodox by leaving the Coptic Synod? 

    --- that means that they are less Orthodox than before. 

    Well, thank you for clarifying that. 

  • With all due respect, do you think you know more about this situation than I do?

    The BOC has returned to its non Orthodox status in which it existed before 1994.
  • The British Orthodox became canonically Orthodox only when they united with the Coptic Orthodox Church. To separate from Orthodoxy and to explicitly adopt a status that existed before becoming canonically Orthodox is to cease to be Orthodox.
  • Thanks Abouna @Peterfarrington for clarifying. 
  • edited October 2015
    I typed this before I got Fr Peter's answer. 

    I think the statement from Fr Peter may help others understand this:

    The British Orthodox became canonically Orthodox only when they united with the Coptic Orthodox Church. To separate from Orthodoxy and to explicitly adopt a status that existed before becoming canonically Orthodox is to cease to be Orthodox. 

  • edited October 2015
    Thanks Fr Peter for clarifying. I just got your last statement after I typed mine (above)

    You said:

    The British Orthodox became canonically Orthodox only when they united with the Coptic Orthodox Church. To separate from Orthodoxy and to explicitly adopt a status that existed before becoming canonically Orthodox is to cease to be Orthodox. 

    I had No idea. 

    Why do they still call themselves the British Orthodox Church then? Are their priesthoods not valid now? I'm a bit confused, but its OK; there's no problem. 

  • @Zoxsasi

    You said:

    Why do they still call themselves the British Orthodox Church then?  

    For the same reason the countless other vagante "Orthodox" bodies do. I am afraid to say that irrespective of their theology and the name of their Church, that the body known as "The British Orthodox Church" is not Orthodox in the mystical, ecclesiological sense of the word. They have gone into schism.

    Are their priesthoods not valid now? 

    "Valid" is not really an Orthodox term. The Priests of the BOC were ordained by canonical Orthodox Bishops, and sacramental grace doesn't just turn off and on like a light switch over night. It is not our place to define boundaries for God's grace. All that matters as far as we are concerned is that we may not receive the Eucharist from BOC clerics and our Clergy can no longer concelebrate the Holy and Divine Liturgy with each other. 

    I'm a bit confused, but its OK; there's no problem. 

    I think we're all a bit bewildered by this tragic event. But now is the time for prayer. The Bishops will sort out the administrative issues. All we have to do is remain faithful to Him until the end and trust in His providence. 
  • edited October 2015
    Hi Severian,

    I'm just curious, but before they became part of our Church, what were they? Were they just men pretending to be Orthodox? Or were they already ordained Catholic priests who adopted Orthodoxy?
  • Hello Father Peter,
    I'm curious as to wether copts attended the liturgy of the BOC?
  • Unless Fr. Peter has inside information that the rest of us are lacking, I think it's very important to note that the British Orthodox Church is still entirely orthodox in faith and practice - as it was when it was received into the Coptic Orthodox Church - and while it cannot be said to be a part of canonical Orthodoxy at this point, it is not fair to make it out as if the church is suddenly heterodox in faith or practice. Let us all be charitable here, especially those of us who lack intimate understanding of the matter (which is all of us save Fr. Peter) and extend the same charity to the BOC that we extend to other Orthodox bodies with which there has been a breach of communion.

    Lord, have mercy.

  • Dear AntoniousNikolas,

    Out of everything i've read so far, what you stated is by far the most reasonable and mature comment. 

    I totally agree. As far as i'm concerned, I will kiss Anba Seraphim's hand if I see him and treat him as if he's a normal Orthodox Metropolitan. He's not obliged to be under the Coptic Orthodox Church.

  • Fr. Peter, 

    I don't think anyone supposes to know more about the details of the relationship between the Coptic Church and the British Church than a Coptic Priest hailing from the British Church. I think what we are speaking about is just a matter of "the rules" or the "laws" if you will. We understand that there are many things beyond our knowledge at present that we are not privy to, that you are. But i am just thinking along the lines of Kephra. What exactly makes them "non-orthodox now." I guess the ambiguity of the question is what exactly "pre-1994" really means. Maybe for the sake of clearance of where we all stand your reverence could explain some of the history of the BOC as pertains its joining. 

    Pre 1994, were there any unorthodox beliefs that the BOC held? Any hetropraxis? Because as far as the naked and unecudacted eye (such as mine) can see, pre-1994 the BOC was orthodox but not recognised by any major head (although it had paintained apostolic succession and Orthodox teaching) and so to return to such a state is merely administrative. No?

    Forgive me. I know you do not want to speak about any person or the issue at present. but for the sake of edification on a level of education, maybe you could educate us more, or point us in the direction of some education as relates to "pre-1994 BOC."

  • My initial understanding of the announcement was that they were upgraded from autonomous church to autocephalous church, whereby Abba Seraphim is now among the equal heads of a church within Oriental Orthodoxy, just as happened with Ethiopia and Eritrea in the last 60 yrs.

    This is weird. They were one of the greatest sources of Oriental Orthodox publications in English and had the potential to exterminate the lacklustre protestant culture in the Coptic Diaspora. I'm sure they still will be but all this 'non-canonical' talk is scaring me.
  • Can we put this situation in context please?

    How many parishioners, priests and churches / communities belong to the BOC?
  • Guys, 

    Something fishy is going on here. 
  • You have not understood the situation, and that is understandable. But please do not keep on proposing things that are not true and are based on supposition. Abba Seraphim has left the Orthodox Church with two priests at present and about 30 people. He is not the head of an autocephalous Church. He is a single bishop who has decided, for various reasons, to leave the Orthodox communion.

    Which publications is ReturnOrthodoxy thinking of?
  • To leave the communion of the Orthodox Church is to cease to be Orthodox. We share a life, not just certain teachings. A single bishop cannot say that he will break communion, leave the commitments he has made, and set up a new church while remaining in the same condition. To leave the communion of Orthodoxy is to cease to be Orthodox.
  • Fr Peter,
    Before the split, approximately how many priests and people were in the BOC? For those who did leave, will they return to the Ancient British Church or the Catholic Apostolic Church or the Communion of Western Orthodox Churches or the Celtic Orthodox Church or something else?  I think the question ReturnOrthodoxy was asking you to educate us on the pre-1994 history and if they are returning to that, or something else.
  • I have known about 17 priests in my time in the BOC. But 2 are left and are remaining with Metropolitan Seraphim. He seems to intend to continue as the BOC, with these 2 priests. I see no present evidence that he will link up with other similar small and non-canonical groups. He will continue with himself and these 2 priests in a small way I think. All of the groups you mention were also small and many names changed often. Whatever the complicated antecedents, I believe that a real opportunity was offered by God, and many embraced it. I certainly did. But it has not been fulfilled as it might have been, and I see the hand and will of God in that I will continue this opportunity within the Coptic Orthodox Church.
  • How are we to view the BOC and Anba Seraphim? Are we still meant to kiss his hand? or refer to him as "sayedna"??

  • edited October 2015

    No, you are not required to do that. Basically, right now Mr Newman-Norton (the erstwhile Metropolitan Seraphim) is a vagante who is playing dress-up.

    Some Orthodox don't even kiss the hands of Roman Catholics, and they are most certainly not playing dress-up.
This discussion has been closed.