first like to thank you all for coming to our Fourth Annual Dinner. I
especially like to welcome his Eminence the Bishop of Amathus Nicholaos
and thank him for accepting my invitation to join us tonight. To have in
our midst a Bishop of the Orthodox Church is a great blessing and it is
a confirmation that we are not thought of as some breakaway English
sect, but as faithful members of the whole body of the Orthodox Church.
I have to say a few words in Greek to welcome his Eminence and then Iíll
come straight back to English.
να καλωσορίσω τον Θεοφιλέστατο επίσκοπο Αμαθούντος Νικόλαον και να τον
ευχαριστήσω που δέχτηκε την πρόσκληση μου να είσαι απόψε μαζί μας.
Θεοφιλέστατε, το ακούεις πολλές φορές αλλά για μας είναι πράγματι μεγάλη
ευλογία που σε έχουμε εδώ απόψε μαζί μας. Όταν λέμε στο κόσμο ότι
κάνουμε Αγγλική Λειτουργία, η πρώτη τους αντίδραση είναι να ρωτήσουν αν
είμαστε Ορθόδοξη. Για τους περισσότερους Ελληνοκύπριους η Ορθοδοξία έχει
σύνορα και περιορίζεται μόνο στον Ελληνισμό και στην Ελληνική γλώσσα. Η
παρουσία σου εδώ απόψε επιβεβαιώνει ότι η Ιερά Μητρόπολης Λεμεσού δεν
συμμερίζεται με αυτή την άποψη, δεν βάλλει σύνορα στην Ορθοδοξία και
αυτό είναι φανερό με το ότι σαν μια πρωτοποριακή Μητρόπολης ευλογεί να
τελείται η Θεία Λειτουργία όχι μόνο στη Ελληνική γλώσσα αλλά και στην
Αγγλική, Ρωσική, Ρουμανική και Αραβική. Η παρουσία σου λοιπόν είναι για
μας μεγάλη ευλογία διότι δεν μας αναγνωρίζεις σαν πολλούς που μας
θεωρούν μια αιρετική ομάδα, αλλά ως γνήσια και πιστά τεκνά της Ορθόδοξης
Μητροπόλεως Λεμεσού. Βεβαίως θα μας έδινε ακόμη μεγαλύτερη χαρά να σε
είχαμε μαζί μας και ένα Σάββατο πρωί στην Θεια Λειτουργία. Το ότι δεν
μιλάς Αγγλικά δεν το δεχόμαστε ως δικαιολογία, μπορείς να πεις τα της
Ιεροσύνης στα Ελληνικά και η χορωδία να απαντά στα Αγγλικά.
also like to say a special thank you for being here tonight to our other
special guests the fathers who serve our parish of St. Andrewís and St.
John the Baptist in Mesa Geitonia; Father Michael, Fr. Michael and our
Deacon Father Georgios. They may not take part in our English Liturgy
but that doesnít mean that they are not active in what we do. Each in
his own way helps in the church preparations, and if we look at the
overall picture, what we do is not something isolated that belongs only
to us, but rather it is a part of what the parish offers or we can say
we are a branch from the tree of life called the parish. Their presence
here tonight therefore affirms that they recognize us and what we do as
belonging to the same parish.
year we try to have at least two events where we can get together
outside of the Liturgy for the sole purpose of getting to know each
other on a more social level. Last year we had two such events, the
first was in January in this very same hotel. This is our third year
here and we hope to continue coming for many more years because 1) the
food and service is excellent and 2) the Management Kypros and
Chrysostomos give us a very good deal for which we thank them dearly.
Our second get together last year was in June for a fish dinner during
the fast of the Apostles. Sadly that venue didnít prove to be very good,
in fact the service was terrible, the starters actually came after the
fruit had been served. Most of you were very good about it and didnít
complain for which I thank you. Needless to say we wonít be going back
there this year.
this is our main annual dinner and as I say every year these
get-togethers are very important for a Christian community. They help us
to feel part of a wider family which is what a parish is. Sadly many of
those who attend our English services isolate themselves, they donít try
to mix in and prefer to keep themselves to themselves. As I said in the
email that I sent out they come to Church and sit in the corner until
the end of the service and then leave at the end without being noticed.
They may feel that they have done their Christian duty by coming to
church, but this is not Christianity. The true understanding of a
Christian life is community life. Even in monasteries where men and
women devote themselves to a life of prayer, they live as a community
sharing common meals and services together: living in isolation is an
extreme that is not encouraged. By living as a community we have the
opportunity of practicing the one Christian virtue which is above all
virtues: the virtue of love. It is easy to love our immediate family
members, but we need to show love for all people and especially our
neighbour and fellow Christian. Our large town and city societies do not
allow us to practice love as preached in the gospels, but church
parishes are like small villages where we are given the opportunity to
get to know each other as a large extended family. The aim of every
church dinner has this in mind; it is not just an event to have a good
meal, it is a gathering of a family of loved ones: it is a gathering of
the family of God.
are people who when they hear of Church dinners are automatically
scandalized because they assume that Christians shouldnít be involved in
social events. This is a very puritan outlook and has nothing to do with
the Christianity practiced and preached by Christ and the Apostles. They
in fact resemble the Pharisees who were scandalized that Christ sat down
to eat with publicans and sinners. By his way of life Christ showed us
that he was a social person; he ate where he was invited, he attended
weddings and most important he lived on a daily basis with a group of
people that were not just his twelve disciples. The first Christian
communities organized by the Apostles were again communities where
everyone shared everything in common; their daily meals were large
gatherings where, noble or peasant, rich or poor, sat together as a
family bound together by Christian love. Granted they didnít have
dinners at a hotel or restaurant, but life was very different then, the
church had the resources to provide the daily meals because as we told
in the Acts of the Apostles ďMany who had lands and houses sold them and
brought the money and laid it down at the Apostlesí feet.Ē Today this
just doesnít happen so we are forced to have just an annual dinner and
everyone is asked to pay their own way.
annual dinners can also act like a general meeting of the parish members
and with this in mind it gives me the opportunity to inform you of what
is happening with the talks and services. By Monday, when I had little
response to tonightís annual dinner, I sent out a second email to all on
the mailing list and sms messages to those who hadnít responded in any
way. In the messages I came across a bit strong and demanding, but I was
not threatening to stop the English services. Many of you thought this
and sent messages saying you were sorry that I felt compelled to take
such drastic action. Let me reassure you then that I donít intend on
stopping either the English Liturgy or the Talks, what I intended was to
give everyone an alarm call to wake up and not take things for granted.
began the English Liturgy in November of 2006 as a new project on trial.
Others before us tried similar projects but didnít last. The fact that
we have been going for four years means that we have a success story and
certainly the numbers I have who receive email and sms messages prove
that both the Liturgy and talks are a necessary service. In spite of
this the number of those who actually attend has been dropping over the
past few months. Some of course have work or family obligations, others
travel a great deal while others have moved to other areas. There are
many reasons why people donít attend regularly, but with many this is
not the case and their non attendance is a result of what we might call
a spiritual illness. The initial enthusiasm dies out and spiritual
laziness slowing takes over leading to a spiritual sleep. This happens
to all of us at some stage and every now and then we need someone to
give us a little push or an alarm call to wake us up. I personally
thoroughly enjoy and look forward to our English services and wish we
could have a more regular service or even a Sunday service, which would
certainly be more accommodating to many who have to work on Saturdays,
but this will never happen if the numbers who attend donít increase.
part I can tell you that when I see the numbers drop I become
disheartened and maybe a little discouraged, but for a valid reason. I
mentioned in the email that I don't offer these services for my benefit
but for yours, but what I should have said was that the church allows us
to have these services for your benefit and not mine. We have the
services with the Bishopís blessing and he regularly inquires on how the
services are progressing. If our numbers keep dropping then he might
feel that there is no real need for the English services and ask us to
remember last year in February and March I was transferred to another
church and to be able to return to St. Andrewís I had to literally
persuade the Bishop that a great many relied on the English services and
that with my moving away there was a great danger of dissolving the
English programme. Thankfully, during those two depressing months, Fr.
Michael was more than understanding and continued to allow us the use of
the Chapel and schoolhouse for our needs. I mentioned this to show you
that nothing is forever permanent and we should not take what we have
for granted. At any time I might again be asked to move to another
parish and if this were to happen there is no guarantee that in a new
parish I would be allowed to continue with the English programme. The
only guarantee is to show those in authority that there is a great and
real demand by continually increasing our numbers.
enough said on the subject, the alarm call certainly worked because on
the same day I received a confirmation of about 20 bookings for the
dinner and - Iím not a betting man, but I bet you anything that on
Saturday we will have a lot more attending the Liturgy than during the
last few services.
think its time, as we say in England, to put a cork in it, but first I
have to say a few thank yous. Firstly I like to thank the management of
the Navarria hotel Ė Kypros and Chrysostomos. Every year they give us
such a good deal that I feel a little embarrassed that Iím taking
advantage of their good nature. Even to give us the private banqueting
hall means that they have to hire extra hands to cater for us. I just
want to reassure them that we truly appreciate what they offer us Ė
thank you boys.
I like to thank Fr, Michael for all his support over the four years, but
more especially for his support and love during those two difficult
months that I mentioned. Without any obligation he allowed us the use
of the Chapel and understood that if the English Liturgy had moved to
another location it would have seriously affected its survival. As Fr.
Michael doesnít understand English Iím obliged to thank him in Greek so
bear with me a little longer while I thank him using my best Greek which
is not very good.
να ευχαριστήσω τον Πατέρα Μιχαήλ για την υποστήριξην του κατά τα τέσσαρα
χρόνια που προσφέρουμε την Αγγλική Λειτουργία. Ειδικά θέλω να τον
Ευχαριστήσω για την υποστήριξη και αγάπη που έδειξε κατά τους περσινούς
μήνες του Φεβρουαρίου και Μαρτίου όταν πήρα μετάθεση σε άλλην ενορία.
Για μένα ήταν μια δύσκολη περίοδος και η μεγάλη μου έννοια ήταν τί θα
γίνει με την Αγγλική Λειτουργία. Και ο ίδιος κατάλαβε ότι αν η
Λειτουργία μετακομιζόταν σε άλλη ενορία, υπήρχε μεγάλος κίνδυνος να
διαλυθεί και να χαθεί και χωρίς καμιά υποχρέωση μας έδωσε την ευλογίαν
να συνεχίσουμε να την τελούμαι στο Παρεκκλήσι του Τιμίου Προδρόμου. Η
υποστήριξη του είναι επίσης φανερή από το ότι περιλαμβάνει την Αγγλική
Λειτουργία στο μηνιαίο πρόγραμμα της ενορίας που σημαίνει ότι βλέπει την
Αγγλική Λειτουργία σαν ένα σοβαρό και μόνιμο λειτούργημα που προσφέρει η
would also like to thank our church warden Jannis for always preparing
beforehand everything needed for the Liturgy and especially for making
sure that we have a prosphoron, which without it we cannot perform the
Liturgy. Sadly Jannis had a heart attack a couple of days ago and cannot
be with us. Iím sure he knows that we are thinking of him and that he is
in our prayers and we wish him a speedy recovery.
would like to thank our choir, Olga, Jeanne, Antonia, Pamela, Niki and
Evangelia who, even though they donít believe it themselves, have come a
long long way and bless us with their wonderful voices. I donít know if
I have told you before, but I get emails from America asking how have we
managed to have an all English Liturgy in Cyprus when the Greek churches
in the English speaking USA only offer the occasional English word hear
and there from the priest, but definitely nothing from the choir.
Iíd like to thank all of you who, with your regular attendances have
made the English Liturgy a success story.
Now as we are still in January and in the first month of the New Year
itís only appropriate that we commemorate the New Year with the cutting
of the New Year cake. Within the cake there are more than one coin and
some other things. Those who find something in their piece will also win
a small gift offered by members of our group. But before the blessing
and cutting of the cake, I think his Eminence would like to say a few
words in Greek.