35th AGM OF THE ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX SOCIETY OF BRITAIN
Sunday, 9th of October 2022, Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London.
On this day, after the Divine Liturgy, parishioners gathered for the 35th Annual General Meeting of the Antiochian Orthodox Society of Britain (Registered Charity 801540), which is responsible for the finances and administration of the Parish of St. George’s Cathedral. The meeting took place at the very welcoming and hospitable Millennium Gloucester Hotel. In attendance were His Eminence Silouan, Metropolitan of the British Isles and Ireland, clergy of the Cathedral, Board of Trustees, and many parishioners. Before the meeting, the participants were offered lunch and refreshments.
The meeting began with prayer led by Metropolitan Silouan, who then read the letter addressed to Dr. Samir Hraiki – Society’s Chairman, and the Board of Trustees. His Eminence called people to rally around the Chairman and Board and support their service to our parish and Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.
Dr Samir Hraiki – opened the formal business of the meeting with the Chairman’s report on the past and future activities of the Society. The main subject of the report was the situation around the building of St. George’s Cathedral. The negotiations about renovation and repairs of the church between the Society and London Diocese Fund of the Church of England – our landlord- concluded without any positive results. The landlord insisted on repairs costing 7 million pounds. Our position was to proceed with urgent repairs and renovations that would cost no more than 1.2 million pounds and would allow us to restart using the church building sooner. The landlord also rejected a proposal to sell the freehold to the church or arrange a new lease exceeding the 20-year term. As a result, the Board of Trustees decided to surrender the lease before the expiration of the current agreement. We will have to vacate the property within the next few months and begin to search for a new permanent place of worship. With a targeted budget of around 1.5-1.7 million pounds, the preferred solution is to either buy an existing church building or purchase a land plot and build a new church. The Chairman and Board urge members who may be aware of any sale offers for church buildings or suitable land to get in touch.
After Chairman’s report, the meeting proceeded with voting and unanimously approving the minutes of the previous AGM and full annual financial accounts for the year 2021. Next, members of the Society elected Mr George Abboud as a new member of the Board of Trustees and Mr Tawfik Dallal as an additional Associate Treasurer of the Society. The Chairman and all members are grateful to Mr Dallal and Mr Abboud for their commitment to serving Society and its people.
Upon the completion of the formal business of the AGM, the Chairman opened the floor for questions and discussions. In concluding remarks, Dr Samir welcomed the surprise guest and long-term friend of the Society – Mr Ghassan Hasbani MP (Lebanese Parliament), who addressed the people with a short speech. Dr Samir also spoke of our parishioner Dimitri Coutya, a member of Great Britain’s Wheelchair Fencing national team, who has just won several gold medals at the Pisa World Cup. We are delighted and proud of Dimitri’s achievements.
During the discussion, Metropolitan Silouan and Father Michel have spoken about the importance of material work in support of our church, which should complement spiritual work. In particular, it is essential, they said, that as many Cathedral’s parishioners as possible register as members of the Society. Currently, just a tiny fraction is. The monthly contributions that members pay provide Society with the most stable source of income, which is essential for the church’s continued functioning and ability to fulfil its mission. Father Michel also called on parishioners to help more in the church’s liturgical and social activities.
Contributing further to the financial cause, the Society hopes to resume the tradition of hosting the Annual Dinner this year, which stopped in the last two years due to the COVID-pandemic. Arranging such a dinner is a complex and time-consuming matter. The Chairman and Board of Trustees urge parishioners to offer any feasible help in organizing this event!
The Chairman and Board of Trustees extend special gratitude to Mr Nemr Elias, who provided enormous assistance with the organization of the AGM, ensuring that it was carried out according to the highest standard.
Thank you to all people who attend the AGM. May God bless your efforts in support of our Society and Church.