British Orthodox Church

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British Orthodox Church
Founder Jules Ferrette in 1866
Recognition Oriental Orthodox
Primate Seraphim
Headquarters Glastonbury in Somerset, England
Territory Iona & its Dependencies, Britain, Ireland, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands
Possessions United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands
Language English

The British Orthodox Church, formerly known as the Orthodox Church of the British Isles, is a small autonomous Orthodox jurisdiction. Its mission is to the people of the British Isles and though it is Orthodox in its faith and practice it remains British in its ethos. It is a missionary community seeking to promote Oriental Orthodox Christianity throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The present British Orthodox Church has developed from a Frenchman, Jules Ferrette, who, in the year 1866, was consecrated as a bishop by the Syriac Orthodox Church with the purpose of establishing Oriental Orthodoxy in the West. Various names have been used, for example Ancient British Church and Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West) (not to be confused with the "Irvingite" movement known as the Catholic Apostolic Church).

Metropolitan Seraphim is Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Glastonbury and Primate of the British Orthodox Church.

The British Orthodox Church came under the jurisdiction of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in 1994 and its mission is to the British people.

On 4 October 2015 the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, in response to a request from the British Orthodox Church, "in the same spirit with which this union came into being", agreed to the British Orthodox Church returning to its pre-1994 status "in fulfilment to what it sees as its current mission in the light of the developments and changing dynamics of the Middle East and Britain." * The British Orthodox website spoke of it "amicably returning to its original status in order to fulfil its mission more effectively.


Seraphim (William Henry Hugo Newman-Norton), Metropolitan Archbishop of the Holy Metropolis of Glastonbury and Primate of the British Orthodox Church.

Note: For details of past primates from the time of Jules Ferrette, refer to the wikipage for the Celtic Orthodox Church.

Relationship with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria[edit]

Over the years this mission lost touch with its Eastern origins, but in 1994 under the leadership of the present bishop, discussions with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria bore fruit and the British Orthodox Church was reunited with the Oriental Orthodox Churches from which it had come. On the feast of Pentecost in 1994, at Saint Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, Abba Seraphim was ordained as Metropolitan by Pope Shenouda III, and the British Orthodox Church became a constituent of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. The current head of the British Orthodox Church is Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury who was a full member of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, 1994-2015.

The British Orthodox Church comprises parishes and missions throughout the British Isles. All its services are in English and it venerates the Orthodox saints of the British Isles and those of the wider Orthodox Church. It uses the ancient Liturgy of Saint James as its normal liturgy, together with all the traditional services of the Coptic Orthodox Church, such as the morning and evening "Raising of Incense".

Although the British Orthodox Church is a small community, it is committed to evangelism and wider ministry.

Continuing church after 1994[edit]

In 1994, much of the UK branch of the church followed Metropolitan Seraphim into formal union within the Coptic (Oriental) Orthodox Church, thus forming the British Orthodox Church.

However, in 1995, a remnant of remaining bishops elected Mgr Mael I (Paul Eduard de Fournier de Brescia) as patriarch. Mgr Mael remained in office until his death in July 2014. The French and other members who did not join the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria adopted the name L'Eglise Orthodoxe Celtique (the Celtic Orthodox Church -officially the Celtic Apostolic Church), thus indicating that its jurisdiction covered the area of the former Celtic missions. In 1997/1998, several of the former Celtic parishes of the newly-formed British Orthodox church left the Coptic church and returned to their mother church, being received by Mar Mael I into the Celtic Orthodox Church.


Through the church press it publishes the Glastonbury Review, the only English language journal committed to regular reporting about the activities of the Oriental Orthodox churches and it has also begun to republish some important theological works. Through the internet, it maintains a number of international and ecumenical email discussion groups, as well as promoting the work of the Joint Commission for the Dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches through the website.

Dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox churches and the Anglican Communion takes place in the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]