It has been a long time since I last posted something, but a forthcoming event in the life of my parish has moved me to hit the keyboard once again.
The Parish of Saint Theodore of Tarsus has been working to serve the people of Cardiff and South Wales since December, 2013. Our specific mission has been to preach the Gospel as faithfully as possible according to the traditions of the Kyivan Church – that is, the Eastern Church into which the people of Rus’ were baptised in 988, then re-united with the Western Church in 1595 – in the belief that, by living out these traditions boldly and in charity, we would be offering the people of Wales the opportunity to encounter the same ancient faith planted by Saint David, in a beautiful and mysterious form that might speak across some of the divides that characterise contemporary society.
To this end, we have endeavoured to celebrate the Liturgy regularly and in a way that accords strictly with our Byzantine inheritance, while engaging at every opportunity with the community around us. New opportunities have now arisen, though, that demand we reconsider what we are doing as we seek to reach out and grow as a parish community.
In conversation between the parish’s recently-appointed pastoral assistant, Mr Joshua Brown, and myself, we queried why it was that the Churches should be so timid about going out into the world and meeting with people on their terms. Together, we reflected on the example of the Welsh saints, and thought that if they could do what they did in the sixth and seventh centuries, there was no reason we could not do the same in the twenty-first. Indeed, it has been my personal experience that, when I have walked among the public in my cassock (often with skufia) – that is, ventured out as a clear, physical symbol of the Church – the response has been one of curiosity, not animosity. This suggests to me that people are happy and hungry to hear what the Church has to say; the Church just needs to be bolder and more active in sharing it.
This being the case, we have decided to undertake a sponsored prayer walk on Saturday, 3 October, starting at 9:00 a.m.
The purpose of the walk will to offer prayers for the city and people of Cardiff, while raising awareness of our existence as a Church community and funds for our ministry by following a course that will take us right through the heart of the city on a day when thousands should be out shopping and exploring.
We will begin with prayers together at the start of the walk, and then proceed in the direction of Cardiff Bay. At the Bay, we will stop to serve the corresponding Hour and to take refreshments, then continue by making our way to Tongwynlais, where we will conclude with the last corresponding Hour between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.
Anyone may join with us at any time along the route, and may walk as long or as short a time as they feel able.
Sponsors are invited to inform us of any special petitions they may have that they would like remembered on the day. Additionally, they will themselves be prayed for by name at the Divine Liturgy the following day (Sunday, 4 October).
Why am I writing about this, though?
Because I am hoping that readers will consider whether or not they can support us in any way – great or small – and will add us to their prayers as we undertake this first attempt at engaging with the public. At the same time, it may be that you would like us to remember a particular petition or concern that you have; if so, I will be pleased to hear from you, and to offer it in prayer on your behalf.
Regardless, please visit our parish GoGetFunding page if you feel able to give.
Whatever the case, we ask for the prayers of our holy patron, St Theodore of Tarsus and of the Most Holy Theotokos as we undertake this endeavour on behalf of the parish and of the whole community.
A selection of events in the life of St Theodore of Tarsus since December 2013:
- 1 December 2013 – First Divine Liturgy offered
- 8 December 2013 – Kyr Hlib visits church and presents decree establishing us as a parish of the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London
- 26 January 2014 – First baptism celebrated
- September 2014 – Iconostasis installed
- November 2014 – Theological Conference hosted
- 27 March 2015 – Death of Theodor Siemens, father of parish priest, one of the founders of parish, and first major contributor
- 3 May 2015 – First Eparchial Sobor
- August 2015 – Pastoral Assistant appointed
- 3 October 2015 – Prayer Walk