In the East of England there is at present only one multinational and multilingual church faithful to Russian Orthodoxy with its own urban premises. This is St John’s Church in Colchester. God willing and with your support, we may now be able to buy a second one, in Norwich, exactly 60 miles, 100 kilometres, to the north of Colchester.
Why Norwich? For the last four years I have been visiting Norwich and some of the 200 Russian Orthodox there, mainly recent immigrants from the Baltic States, especially from Estonia. I have baptized several in their homes, married couples in Colchester, buried, blessed houses, listened to confessions, visiting every few weeks, sometimes twice a month.
We have thought of dedicating our community to St Alexander Nevsky. We attempted to begin liturgies using the Greek Orthodox church building in Norwich, but were impeded. How are our people and English people and others interested in the witness of the Russian Orthodox Church, to be cared for pastorally? Only from a church building.
Now we have found such a suitable building. At present offices, it is a single-storey building near the town centre, so with free parking, about 10 metres (30 feet) long by 6 metres (15 feet) wide. It has heating, lighting, a kitchenette and toilet, all in good condition. Although small, it seems ideal as a basis for starting Russian Orthodox life in Norwich.
And such life is required not only by Russian speakers, but also by Romanian, Bulgarian and English Orthodox. Most of our regular parishioners, only one of whom has a car, live within easy walking distance of this building. With our low offer of £42,500 miraculously accepted, this building, we estimate, would cost a total of £55,000 to buy and convert.
Within 24 hours of viewing the building, eight parishioners had already pledged £5,000. For those for whom £50 is a lot of money, this is a considerable sum. Archbishop Mark has enthusiastically blessed us to start public fund-raising. And so we are launching a campaign to gain pledges to raise the extra £50,000 required.
Perhaps you know someone who is wealthy? Perhaps we can find ten people who can each donate £5,000? Perhaps we can find 250 people who can each donate £200? Can you help us by making pledges? May God bless you for considering the Russian Orthodox Community in Norwich in your alms.
All donations, when required later this year in August or September, will be made to our charitable trust: East of England Orthodox Church (Registered Charity No 1081707). But please remember that we do not want donations now, only pledges. To make a pledge, please inform us at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
2 June 2015