« A Conference, ‘Metropolitan Anthony: Pastor of the Church of Christ: in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth’, took place near London »

2014 is a jubilee year for the Diocese of Sourozh, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founder, the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom). One of the main events dedicated to the jubilee was the Annual Sourozh Diocesan Conference ‘Metropolitan Anthony: Pastor of the Church of Christ’, which took place on 20th - 22nd June in Hertfordshire near London.

The tradition of holding the Conference, which is an annual meeting of the clergy and laity, was established by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anthony. The clergy and lay people who knew him personally, as well as those who have come to love him for his passionate sermons and talks, gathered at the conference to share the very special spirit that predominated during Vladyka Anthony’s lifetime.

The conference concentrated upon three aspects of Vladyka Anthony’s service: his pastoral care, missionary activities and his impact on his contemporaries, both the old emigrés and the new generation of younger believers.

On Friday, 20th June, Archbishop Elisey opened the Conference with an address to the conference participants inviting them to share their personal experience of the unique spiritual atmosphere which they inherited from their contact with Metropolitan Anthony. Archpriest Benedict Ramsden, the Chairman of the conference, then called upon Irina Kirillova, a retired professor of  Cambridge University, who gave a talk – ‘Metropolitan Anthony: A Russian Bishop for the White Emigration’.

On Saturday, 21st June, three other talks were given: ‘A 21st century Apostle’ by Archbishop Benedict Ramsden; ‘Metropolitan Anthony and Youth’, by a nun of the monastery of St John the Baptist (Patriarchate of Constantinople),  Sister Seraphima’ (Konstantinovskaya), and ‘Becoming the Gospel’ by Jim Forest, the journalist, writer and founder of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship in Amsterdam. The texts of the talks will be published in due course on the Diocesan Conference website.

After the lunch a presentation, ‘Meetings with Metropolitan Anthony’, was given. The presentation included a slide-show of photographs and video clips of Vladyka. The commentary to the presentation was given by Natalia Pourichko, director of the London Cathedral bookshop. An exhibition of the personal belongings of Vladyka Anthony was presented by the Cathedral churchwarden, Natalia Tkachuk.

Archpriest Maxim Nikolsky, the host of the next part of the presentation, then invited the conference participants to share their vivid memories of Metropolitan Anthony.

During the presentation new books of sermons and talks of Vladyka Anthony such as ‘Sermons delivered in Russia’ and ‘The Conviction of Things not Seen’ were presented. The latter book includes Metropolitan Anthony’s  last talks with parishioners, which in a way can be considered his testament. The Diocese has published a book,  ‘Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh to Children’, dedicated to the centenary of his birth  and containing fragments of Vladyka’s talks illustrated by children’s drawings. The pupils of the London Parish church school headed by the school director Elena Poplavskaya gave a little performance based on one of Vladyka’s stories called ‘Mice’. Then the children’s choir sang several spiritual songs.

In the evening Archbishop Elisey headed the Vigil and the clergy who participated in the conference concelebrated. After the service Archbishop Elisey called everybody to fervent prayer for a ceasefire in the civil war and for reconciliation in Ukraine. In his address Vladyka pointed to the Saints of the Land of Rus, whose memory was being celebrated that day, as a spiritual icon of the unity of a brotherly people torn by hostility.

On 22nd  June, the Sunday of All Saints Who shone forth in the Land of Rus, Archbishop Elisey headed the Divine Liturgy in the conference centre. The diocesan clergy concelebrated. After the Liturgy a litya was served for the repose of the newly-departed Archpriest John Lee. Fr John was the closest assistant of Metropolitan Anthony and departed this life on the eve of his 100th Anniversary.

The three-day conference was completed by summing up and discussions which were led by Archpriest Benedict Ramsden.

In his concluding remarks Archbishop Elisey underlined that the value of Metropolitan Anthony for his flock lies not so much in his unique talents and outstanding personality, which made a great impression on those who met him, as in his gift of communicating his personal experience of God to people.

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