Events archive

Below are a selection of videos, reports, audio files and photo albums for some of our past events, as far back as 2008. See our pages on study weekends, conferences and latest news for more information about current events.

A list of events and speakers 1979-2007 is also available here.

2019 WMI Study Day: the abundant life of a martyr, artist, theologian – Mother Maria (Skobtsova)

This popular study day meant standing room only in the library at Pusey House in Oxford, with speakers including Prof Rowan Williams; Prof Andrew Louth; Natalia Likvintseva; Dr Irina Levinskaya; and Cyrille Sollogoub.

The fascinating presentations were augmented by a small exhibit of artwork by Mother Maria, a set of vestments made by her, and a newly completed icon of Mother Maria with scenes from her life by iconographer Patricia Fostiropoulos (pictured above).

2019 WMI Study Day: an Orthodox Christian perspective on sickness and suffering

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2017 WMI Pilgrimage to St Frideswide of Oxford

The event was attended by more than 30 people who enjoyed good presentations by Dr Stella Rock on ‘Agape Meals in Christianity’, Dr Canon Rev’d Robert Gibbons on St. Frideswide of Oxford, and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on Lay Participation in Orthodox Services.

The day started with the liturgy where the people could appreciate the choral support of Mosaic choir. During the liturgy, the Epistle was read by Prof Mary Cunningham, and the sermon was given by the Very Rev’d. Protopresbyter Ian Graham, and a talk followed by Dr Elena Narinskaya.

Presentations were followed by lively discussion.After the studies there was a pilgrimage to the Holy sites of Binsey and Christ Church associated with St. Frideswide.

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2016 Youth Festival

Video of Question and Answer session with Fr Dionysios Higgs is available here.

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2015 Summer Conference: Standing on Holy Ground

A photo report of the conference is available here.

2015 Study Weekend: The Mother of God in the Bible

Videos of talks available here.

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2014 Study Weekend: Transfiguration

Videos of talks available here.

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2013 Study Weekend: Symbolism in the Gospel of St John

Videos of talks available here.

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2011 Family Camp

ONLINE PHOTOALBUM

The Orthodox Family Camp was held slightly earlier than usual this year, at the beginning of August. Changing the date did not, however, in any way change the mostly fine weather that shone on the beautiful setting of Cefn Lea Park, near Newtown, Powys.

As in previous years, families came together from several Orthodox jurisdictions and included some who had been to previous camps and those for whom this was a first visit. Children ranged in age from 8 years down to 9 months, giving the weekend a truly pan-Orthodox, family atmosphere.

Fr Michael Harry was the Chaplain for the weekend, and, as has been the custom for several years, he began on Friday evening by involving the children in blessing the chalet which accommodated the six families. The Saturday fell on the Feast of the Transfiguration, so the Divine Liturgy was celebrated early in the morning with the blessing of grapes at the end. During the day the children helped to make prosphora for Sunday’s Divine Liturgy and koliva for a memorial service on the Saturday evening. A list was put up so parents and children could put the names of those to be remembered.

In between, the children could play with toys indoors or go outside and ride their scooters, play badminton in the Centre, and make new friends. The camp is surrounded by beautiful hills, giving opportunities for kite flying with Hugh Maxfield one day, and on the next, more hill climbing followed by a lovely craft session using an apparently inexhaustible bag of craft materials. To everyone’s delight, the weather was good enough for the now traditional Family Camp water slide, created on the grassy slopes of the camp. Only the combination of mud and shivers eventually drove the children back indoors for warm showers.

Parents joined together to prepare all the meals, planned most imaginatively by Imogen Maxfield and everyone took their turn with the washing up and cleaning. In the evenings, once all the children were in bed, there was a chance for the parents to talk together with Fr Michael, to make plans for the next year’s camp and just share time together.

On the Monday morning Fr Michael led everyone in a blessing service for journeys, and everyone went their separate ways, strengthened by having spent time together with other Orthodox families. As one of the fathers said at the end ‘This weekend was just what I needed’.

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2010 Pilgrimage to Romania

Twelve pilgrims went under the auspices of the fellowship, for a week in August (2010) to Moldova in Romania, particularly to see the painted monasteries. We enjoyed good weather, excellent food, a feast for the eyes, and came back spiritually enriched. Our tour guide was Ionut Nazarcu (Ed. now Fr Ioan Nazarcu of the Parish of St John the Baptist and St Alban the Protomartyr, Luton), and our chaplain was Fr Philip Hall.

2010 Family Camp

This year’s camp, held over a weekend in August at Cefn Lea in Wales, was a most enjoyable event. Whilst there are several camps, and other annual events, for Orthodox young people and adults; the Orthodox Family Camp is for families with young children.

Organised by Hugh and Imogen Maxfield, the accommodation allows for communal preparation and eating of meals which creates a warm family atmosphere, and the programme provides activities for the children within the structure of daily prayers. This gives an opportunity for families to come together in an Orthodox setting to share experiences, learn, play, and worship together. In particular, it gives an unstressful opportunity for the children to participate in the services by singing, reading and serving.

The camp also has a theme that forms the basis of sharing experience, discussion and learning. The theme of this year’s camp was ‘Orthodox Families in the Fallen World’. We considered how the Orthodox can experience ridicule and hostility to their faith in today’s secular society, and how we should respond. We reminded ourselves that we are not a weak minority religious sect being persecuted by a strong secular world. Instead, we are the unworthy bearers of the Gospel/Good News on behalf of the whole of creation.

Fr Michael Harry: Chaplain to the Family Camp

2010 Summer Conference: Mothers and Fathers in God: spiritual guidance in the Orthodox Church

Audio Files

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2009 Summer Conference: Creation and Evolution

with Revd. Fr. Dr. Christopher Knight; Professor George Theokritoff; Very Revd. Archimandrite Kyril Jenner; Professor Richard Swinburne; Wendy Robinson
Audio Files

The Summer Conference at St. Alban’s was in one respect a first for the Fellowship in that it was convened to consider Orthodoxy’s understanding of creation and evolution in the light of both science and revelation. Issues of scientific interest do not always feature prominently in such gatherings which may be attributable the widening gap between frontier scientific research and public understanding. Happily there was no such gap at the Summer Conference with our Orthodox speakers straddling both the realms of science and of faith – a geologist, astrophysicist, mathematician, philosopher and psychotherapist helping out.

Our speakers spoke with great learning and lucidity on how their own fields of work had revealed the deep harmonies of natural science and natural theology with Orthodox epistemology and revelation. In an age where anti-theists and fundamentalists alike maintain a mutual interest in the phoney “war” between these two ancient disciplines, it was refreshing and encouraging to see how such conflicts are entirely alien to the Orthodox ethos … which is not to say of course that one will not find the occasional Orthodox fundamentalist on the internet and elsewhere!

At the conclusion of the Conference and by the kind invitation of the Dean and Chapter of St. Alban’s Abbey and Cathedral, the Conference visited the tomb of the Holy Protomartyr of Britain, St. Alban for a service and veneration of a relic – returned in recent times by the French Catholic Church in Auxerre – the other relics in England being destroyed at the Reformation.

2009 Study Weekend: How to study the Bible

with His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
Audio Files

The Fellowship’s 2009 Study Weekend was hosted by the parish of St. Aidan, Manchester (Antiochian Orthodox Deanery). The priest and community gave a warm welcome to the Guest Lecturer, His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and the event was well attended with over 40 participants. The theme of the weekend: “Studying the Bible” was developed through 5 talks and plenary sessions. These were very well received and as is customary with our esteemed guest speaker the material was appropriate for a diverse range of understandings and abilities. His Eminence also presided over the hierarchical services of the Weekend and the catering left no one hungry. The priest, Fr. Gregory (Hallam) had arranged for evening meals to be taken in a large local Indian restaurant which worked very well for those who chose to attend.
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2008 Summer Conference: Living the Liturgy

There were 39 of us attending the conference of which four were from the youth choir. It was held at the Ushaw College, Durham where we enjoyed fantastic food and very comfortable sleeping arrangements.

The main theme of the conference was Living the Liturgy and it was split into three sections, public worship, private prayer and daily life. We had three great speakers Bishop Basil of Amphipolis, Columba Bruce Clark and Mother Sarah speaking. After each session there was a time for questions and answers. We also enjoyed together vespers, morning prayers and the divine liturgy in a wonderful church within the college.

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2006 Youth Festival: I will praise the Lord as long as I live (Ps 103)

Report by Clare Victoroff: This year 60 people attended the Youth Festival. Nearly all were aged between 17 and 35. We had a wide variety of different nationalities as many people who attended are currently studying in the UK. These were British, Greek, French, Ukranian, Russian, American, Canadian, Macedonian, Irish, Serbian, Romanian, Jordanian, Iranian, Egyptian, (I may have missed some out). They also came from all parts of Britain: Bangor, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Edinburgh, Leeds, Lincoln, Cambridge, Birmingham, Winchester, Oxford, Frome, Leominster, London, Colchester, Nottingham, Nantwich, Shrewsbury, Telford, Walsall, Brigg. 

We arrived in Ilam on Friday afternoon in bright sunshine to see again old friends and to meet new friends. Over half of those who attended this year did not come the year before. We spent Friday evening introducing ourselves, saying who we were and which Orthodox events we had attended in the last year. There had been many pilgrimages; to Romania, Ilam, Holywell… and many informal reunions of the people who attended the Festival in 2005. We also did a very effective, though noisy, icebreaking game called speed meeting where we were only allowed to talk to the person opposite us for 1 minute before swooping places. 

We began Saturday with the Liturgy for St Lazarus. At Dovedale House there is a disused stable which has been kitted out for use as a chapel amongst other things complete with an altar. Fr Philip Hall served the Liturgy and as usual there were plenty of people to sing. 

After the Liturgy Fr Stephen Platt gave an interesting talk about saints. First he explained the three words used for saints in Greek: agios (holy), makarios (blessed) and osios (venerable). Osios means someone who has become a living icon, “I am an image of Thine ineffable glory even though I bear the mark of my transgressions” (funeral service). 

Saints should be seen as what they are, that is a human being. They are important to us because they are of us. They experience great struggles on the path to sanctity. If the saints are human then we can aspire to be like them. 

He told us about a few modern saints. Fr Alexis, priest in France. He celebrated the Liturgy every day. He lived in relative obscurity and was forgotten after his death until his incorrupt relics were discovered.  Fr Nicholas Planas celebrated the liturgy every day. He had lists and lists of names of people that he commemorated everyday. At the commemoration of the saints he couldn’t bear to leave any of them out. Fr Nektarios of Pentapolis also lived in relative obscurity. Mother Maria had been married twice and had three children before becoming a nun in Paris. She lived by the command “love one another.” She perished in a German gas chamber on Good Friday. On Holy Saturday the concentration camp was liberated.

“We can’t become saints by ourselves; we need other people to become saints. But we need to begin on the path that will lead us there”.

After lunch we had some time to relax before the workshops. There were four workshops on Saturday and four on Sunday but two were repeated. The titles were: How to do lay Vespers; Journeys to Orthodoxy; Islam and Orthodoxy; Question and Answers on the Liturgy; Suffering and Life after death, and How to react when atheists attack us for our faith. I attended this last workshop workshop and found it very useful.

Next we set off up the hill to bless the Holy Well of St Bertram, an 8th-century saint who lived in Ilam. 

Before dinner everyone present who is involved in a youth activity gave a short presentation. We were particularly lucky to have Cyrill Sollogoub, the Syndesmos Representative of Western Europe with us to tell us about Syndesmos. This session is particularly important because sometimes we feel quite isolated in our activities, it is good to know that others are doing the same sorts of things, for example youth camps. It also informs those who are not involved. 

After Vespers we had a quiz where each team had to write questions for the others. There were questions like “Why was 1981 an important year for 3 members of our team?” 

On Sunday morning Fr John Nankivell celebrated the Liturgy for Palm Sunday. He did the proskomidi publicly. At the end we made a procession outside carrying the palms that we had made. 

After the Liturgy we had workshops again which were a success. Then we went for a walk along the beautiful banks of the river Dove. The highlight of which was having to cross the submerged stepping stones. Many of us got very wet feet. 

Tired, but well exercised, we settled down again for Dr Matthew Steenberg’s inspiring talk on an Understanding of the Christian Message. There were so many questions afterwards that he was in serious danger of missing his train home.  He started by quoting “You are they light OF THE WORLD” it is forbidden by the fathers to believe that our sin is so great that the light within us has gone out. Here are some of the main points of his talk. “I am an image of Thine ineffable glory though I bear the marks of my transgressions.” The human person is central to the understanding of Christianity. The creature that Christ came to save is what matters.  

  • The Christian life is an encounter. How can we encounter God? Hesikios: “Just as he who looks into the sun cannot but fill his eyes with light so the one who gazes intently into his heart cannot fail to be illumined by God.”  Desert Farther: “You need a spiritual pilgrimage. Begin by closing your mouth.” We encounter God through the sacraments. The sacraments encompass every type of encounter we have with one another. The sacraments are the beginning of an encounter. We encounter God in one another. 
  • The Christian life is an engagement; an active involvement with God. Christianity is not a religion, it is the life in Christ. Beatitudes are the instruction manual on how to love God. God is love. Love is a two directional act. 
  • The Christian life is an extension. Love goes beyond itself. Extend the love of God beyond ourselves out into the world. Maximus the Confessor “Do not despise the commandment to love that Jesus Christ has given you because it is by this means and no other that you will become truly a child of God.” 

We should try to understand the Christian message beginning with broken creatures being healed. Sin, suffering, doctrine, practise, liturgy all fall under the umbrella of the human person engaging with God. Put your trust in Jesus. If Jesus is with us what evil one can stand against us. Ceaselessly exercise your heart in the devotion of Jesus Christ.

We began Holy Week with Matins of the Bridegroom. Although many of us were familiar with the service we had never done it together before. I think that some of us found the service quite a struggle. The service is incredibly beautiful and I am very glad that we did it.

A talent show followed, and it really was just that. There were Romanian, Russian, Serbian and English songs, a Brummy poem, a short play, Greek dances, and much much more. Almost everyone was involved. 

First thing on Monday morning we said Morning Prayers at the tomb of St Bertram which is in Ilam Church. After breakfast Fr Dn Alexander Tefft gave reassuring a talk on Doubt. Here are the main points he made.

If you know someone or something you have no reason to doubt, but unless you have wrestled with real doubt, unless you believe out of your own experience you cannot believe as an adult believes. 

There is a difference between doubt and bad faith (mauvais fois). Bad faith means being willing to believe in your own lie. You know it’s a lie but because it is comfortable you believe it. For example, if I’m embarrassed by my faith, it is not socially acceptable so I say I’m sceptical. Honest doubt asks a question, “How can I know?” Not, “How can I feel certain?” “How can I be certain.”  It asks that question because it will not simply take the word of someone and leave it at that. There is nothing wrong with that, it is part of being an adult. You want to experience.

Common answers we are given include, “It’s in the Bible!” Is the Bible a recipe book? “The priest says so” Did the priest invent the faith? “Science proves it” What about limitations of scientific method. There are problems with each – clinging to one of these because you will not do the homework is bad faith. It is your duty to doubt what seems to you like a simple answer. That is to say to investigate it, to ask questions. It is to say, “Unless I put my hand in his side I will not believe”. There are two ways of knowing something. You experience it yourself or you trust the word of someone who has. 

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.”  He said, why should I believe you, I want to experience it for myself. Test the experience. Faith must not be inert and alone. It must be accompanied by investigation. Clement of Alexandria called faith the “criterion of knowledge.” This is in many ways the foundation of the career of defining the faith for St Basil. He learned to wrestle with ideas, to debate. Basil was doing the right thing to ask questions and defended the faith in the first Ecumenical Council because he had the tools to do so. 

Apostolic succession means there is an experience of faith always available to us in the divine services, in prayer; experience of faith in unbroken succession since Christ walked on earth. 

Thomas doesn’t symbolise doubt he symbolises faith. Christ said, “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” But he let Thomas put his hand in his side and in the mark of the nails. Thomas speaks a word of faith with authority because he had real doubt and not bad faith.

During the last session of the Festival everyone was asked to answer some questions on the weekend about how it could be improved. And everyone was asked to write down their favourite moment. Most people had three or four favourite moments. For one person it was, “These amazing discussion that arise from weekends and you discover a new side to people and develop strong bonds in a matter of hours.” Another person said, “The liturgy and other services weren’t a performance but a participation in the prayer and mystery taking place.” A third said, “Walking in the hills and reaching the peak and then rolling down.”

I sincerely believe that the success of the event was due to the staff at Dovedale House, Arthur, Dave and Faith, who not only do the most important thing of all – cook for us, but they bend over backwards to provide fasting meals. At the end of the last day I was approached by Dave as he was trying to purchase a copies of The Orthodox Way and The Orthodox Church but was confused by whether Timothy Ware and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware were the same person (they are!).

Through the prayers of St Bertram, may our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ have mercy on us and bless us. Amen.

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