Category Archives: Britain and Ireland

A Cornish Orthodox Parish?

The pagan ‘Celts’, a group of cruel and warring tribes, invaded the British Isles and Ireland only a few centuries before the Romans came, some arriving not much before them. However, by the first centuries AD these ‘Celts’, some Christian, some, according to St Gildas, definitely not, had separated into two main groups. These were the Irish (in Ireland, and then by emigration, in what is now Scotland) and the Brittonic (in Wales, Cornwall, and then by emigration, in Armorica, the future Brittany in France, and also in Galicia in Spain). The Church in all these lands was represented then by Irish and Brittonic, both Latin-speaking, but both with a strong monastic ethos. So much for the ‘Celtic Church’ myth, about which so much new-age nonsense is talked.

What can we say of Brittonic Cornwall specifically? The word Cornish (Cornovii) is itself Latin, meaning those who live in the ‘horn’, that is to say, those in the horn-shaped peninsula of south-west Britain. Later, by deformation, ‘Corn-wall’ came to mean the land of the ‘Welsh’ (= Non-English) who live in the horn. Cornwall was first taken into England, though only on paper, in the tenth century by King Athelstan. However, in some ways it would be truer to call Cornwall an island, for, surrounded by the sea on three sides, on its fourth side it is separated from Devon and so from England by the River Tamar. Only 70 years ago, and perhaps still today, those who lived on the Cornish side of the Tamar and crossed it spoke quite naturally of ‘going to England’.

Today, it is true that those who have grandparents born on the Cornish side of the Tamar have very different DNA from those born on the English side in Devon, even though the Cornish language has been lost. This is because, Cornwall lies between Wales and Brittany and so became a land through which saints passed, coming from north and south. Thus, Cornwall is a land of local saints and of their names – 140 in all unique to Cornwall. Unfortunately, most of these names are precisely only names. Usually, virtually nothing is known of the saints behind the names, sometimes if they were even saints at all, not even the correct form of their name, not even the century when they lived (usually the sixth or seventh), and sometimes even their gender is unknown.

As for their Lives, when they exist – and that is rare – they were often written over 600 and up to 1,000 years after the saints lived. In other words, most of their Lives are almost completely untrustworthy and sometimes absurd. All that remains is speculation without edification, ‘games with names’, as in the booklets on them, written by the Anglican researcher G.H. Doble in the last century. Here we see all the sadness when people forget their saints, their tradition of holiness. All we can say is that a large number of mainly Welsh monks, nuns, hermits and ascetics came to live in Cornwall in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, and that that was a golden age of holiness. In all this two Cornish saints stand out, St Piran and St Petroc.

St Piran (Perran) (+ c. 480) came from Ireland or Wales and settled in the north of Cornwall, giving his name to Perranporth, where he had his hermitage. He is commemorated on 5 March and is now considered to be the patron saint of Cornwall. St Petroc (Peter) (+ c. 564) was a sixth-century abbot who for long was considered to be Cornwall’s most famous saint. He came from south Wales and lived near what is now Padstow (Petrocstow), where he founded a monastery. He later founded another monastery and then lived as a hermit on Bodmin Moor. He was famed for his closeness to the natural world and founded other monasteries. At his repose his relics were venerated in Padstow and later at the main Cornish monastery in Bodmin. His feast is on 4 June.

Any Orthodox who wish to set up a parish in Cornwall would perhaps wish to start in Truro, the capital of Cornwall and which is located relatively centrally. As for a dedication, we would suggest, quite simply, All Saints. However, in any such parish there should be a large icon of Sts Piran and Petroc.

All the Saints of Cornwall, known to the Lord, pray to God for us!

Towards a Social Brexit

The UK election results once again show the blind over-confidence and imperialistic hubris of the Conservative leadership. The Conservative Party may be trusted to negotiate Brexit (though that is not certain, since they have already wasted a whole year doing nothing about it), but they are not trusted to deliver social justice. And yet decent infrastructure, good roads and, above all, a proper health system, educational system, police force, prison service and proper regulation of privatized railways, telecom and water, electricity and gas companies are demanded. Perhaps, as it is seen by many as the party of the rich and NATO warmongers, the Conservatives should go into coalition with the Labour Party, so creating a government of national unity in this time of national crisis.

However, whatever the politicians decide, the real question is that Western electorates everywhere are rejecting the rule of the neocon oligarchy, the global elite of banksters, warmongers and businessmen, of Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex. People are rejecting Anonymous Globalism, and choosing National Identity instead. However, parties that promote identity politics will only be successful if they also work for social justice and welfare. This was the error of the Conservative Party: it lost sight of the needs of the majority, over 50% of the population, who want those needs to be met, even if it will cost more. Especially, if the costs can be met by taxing the many rich and also businesses, who have so benefited over the last 35 years from rule by pro-business monetarists. What is needed is a Social Brexit.

100 Years On: The End of Anglican Orthodoxy and Reality

Within a few years of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing enslavement of the Russian Church inside Russia centred in Moscow, some 2,000 Russian émigrés had settled in England, mainly in London. They split into two Church groups, both independent of enslaved Moscow, a larger group of various origins, and a much smaller group, mainly of liberal aristocrats and intellectuals, mainly Anglophiles and mainly from Saint Petersburg. The first group formed a parish in London under the initially Moscow-established Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), which had four Metropolias, in China, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Americas, catering for all emigres. The second group also formed a parish in London, but under the small Parisian Rue Daru breakaway jurisdiction, outside the Russian Church, under the then largely Anglican-run and financed (now US-run and financed) Patriarchate of Constantinople.

After the Second World War the first group, under ROCOR, formed more parishes for several thousand refugees with Polish nationality, mainly Ukrainians and Belarussians but also some Russians, who all awaited freedom in the Russian Church inside Russia. (This was to come in 2007, only after most of them had died, bringing reconciliation between the Church inside Russia and the Church Outside Russia). On the other hand, after the Second World War the second group returned formally to the still unfree Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, but on a special basis under the unique Parisian personality of the then Fr Antony Bloom, and developed into an independent group of several small communities. After he died in 2003, this group split in 2006, the majority remaining under Moscow and as a result, by 2007, the majority in the second group and the first group had entered into the unity of canonical communion with one another.

However, some 300 people, often of Anglican background and in small scattered communities, returned to the breakaway Paris Rue Daru group in 2006. Why did they avoid the reconciliation of the vast majority? It was because their leading ideology was that of an English-language Orthodoxy, which was in fact a Russophobic Anglican Orthodoxy. This has largely been invented by an Oxford Anglicanophile academic called Nicholas Zernov. Indeed, it could be called ‘Zernovism’, though in truth many individuals were involved in its formulation. This consisted of a sociological dream, that of reconciling a certain ‘embourgeoisé’ Russian Orthodoxy, liberal, intellectual, aristocratic and conformist, with an upper middle-class Anglo-Catholicism. This was a phyletist (racist) ideology that put a bourgeois and effete Russian Orthodoxy and the Anglican ‘public school and cricket’ Establishment, first – above Christ and His Truth. For when all is compromise, there is no place for Truth….

Those who had never been Anglican felt totally out of place in this group, indeed rejected by such a narrow and forced sociological concept of the Church. Today, their dream (a nightmare for others) is over. It has been made irrelevant by reality – for we do not live in the past. It is not at all that English-language Orthodoxy in itself is irrelevant, in fact just the opposite, today it is all the more important. For in today’s England there are not 2,000 or even 5,000 Russian Orthodox, but 300,000 Russian Orthodox. These come mainly from the Baltics, Moldova and the Ukraine, not to mention 220,000 Romanians and 80,000 Bulgarians, totalling 600,000 Orthodox from these three areas of the Orthodox world. This recent immigration, together with their English-born children, dwarfs all previous Orthodox emigrations, including the mainly 1950s-1960s 200,000-strong Greek-Cypriot immigration, which is now largely dying out after almost complete assimilation.

With 600,000 new Orthodox and their children, mainly in England, there is a huge mission-field for English-language Orthodoxy. However, most of these immigrants work on building sites, in car washes, in hotels and catering, or in farming and horticulture and food-processing factories. They certainly have no interest in an effete and intellectual-dream philosophy of Orthodoxy, but rather in a hands-on, down-to-earth Orthodoxy, which alone meets their simple and practical needs. They need an English-language Orthodoxy to meet the needs of their children, who are being brought up on council estates and in rented flats in the East End of London and the crowded suburbs of modest working towns up and down today’s England. We clergy will be judged on how well we meet their needs, keeping faith with Orthodoxy, but at the same time speaking in the language that their children and increasingly the immigrants themselves, communicate and socialize in. History moves on.

Who will win the UK General Election on 8 June?

Of course we do not know. The opinion polls apparently suggest the Conservatives, but who trusts opinion polls? What is certain is that votes will be cast differently according to what part of the UK people live in.

In Northern Ireland, Catholics will, as usual, vote Catholic (pro-Ireland and pro-EU), Protestants will, as usual, vote Protestant (pro-UK and pro-Brexit).

In Scotland, pro-EU Scottish Nationalism may well have peeked. This means that Labour and the Conservatives may gain back some votes.

In Wales, only a few will vote Nationalist and only in the Welsh-speaking areas. Elsewhere Labour and the Conservatives will win votes.

In England, the Conservatives are trusted to negotiate a good Brexit deal and to tighten security in the face of the terrorist threat that has largely been brought to this country by the anti-Muslim policies of successive governments. After all, the latter were a few years ago quite happy to encourage Muslims to leave this country and as ‘moderate terrorists’ fight against the democratically-elected governments of Syria and Libya, which were so hated by the British Establishment. However, as a Party renowned for social injustice, ruining the police force and the prison service (done under the then Home Secretary Theresa May), and threatening the mere existence of the social system, the grossly underfunded health service, and wasting even more billions on Offence (cynically called Defence) in their new Cold War, can we really vote for them?

The Labour Party is led by a 1970s hippy-style, ex-Marxist idealist, who never quite grew up, and divided between many supporters of its leader and 200 purely Blairite (left-wing Conservative) and so treasonous Members of Parliament. As the Party of Social Justice, everybody likes the Labour promises of money for everything, as against mean Conservative cuts, but how will its promises be paid for? Labour has a long-established reputation for regularly bankrupting the country with fantasy economics. And can Labour be trusted to deliver Brexit and security?

Alternatively, there are various protest parties, such as the Liberal Democrats (an effete, politically correct, pro-EU group for the very middle-class and upper middle-class), UKIP (the anti-EU protest party, which most now consider is finished in the post-Brexit world) and the Greens. It is possible that all of these groups will be wiped out in what is in reality a straightforward two-horse race.

Some people, in disgust, will no doubt spoil their vote. Three Orthodox have told me that they will vote for Vladimir Putin…….

May 2017: The Third Episcopal Visit to our New Diocese

The reborn Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Church Outside Russia has received its third episcopal visit in four months, this time one made by Bishop Irenei of Sacramento, accompanied by the Myrrh-Giving Hawaiian Iveron Icon. The backlog of outstanding pastoral problems dating back many years has been further shortened and two more priests ordained, as requested fifteen months ago. However, the list of candidates for ordination is lengthening, with six more in the Colchester parish alone. With us local Orthodox having been visited by a bishop twice in the previous twenty years for a few short hours only, we have now been visited by a bishop twice in four months and for days each time.

Each recent visit to the Diocese has been much, much longer than any in the previous thirty years. Thus, on Saturday 13 May there took place the first ever Diocesan pilgrimage to St Albans. This was attended by about 200 faithful, a great many of whom took communion in front of the very fragrant Icon. There followed a service of intercession to St Alban in front of his holy relics. Then Vladyka was taken to Colchester where he was shown the main church, dedicated to our former Archbishop St John of Shanghai (+ 1966), which is the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland. He also visited the second (winter) church, dedicated to All the Saints of these Isles. There followed the Vigil Service in the main church.

On the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, at the Divine Liturgy took place a long-awaited tonsure and priestly ordination, the first ever to take place in the Colchester parish. Communion was, as usual, out of two chalices, all four priests in this multinational parish, English, New Zealand, Romanian and Bulgarian, three of whom have come in the last year, two of whom have been ordained in the last two months, concelebrating with Vladyka. The Icon streamed myrrh and an accompanying monk commented that he had never seen so much myrrh given out by the Icon, literally dripping with it, which is a great consolation after so many years. After this, all ate in the Church Hall and then we visited a retired and ill priest who lives to the east of Colchester.

On Monday 15 May Vladyka visited the site of St Botolph’s seventh-century monastery in picturesque and remote Iken, whose thatched church particularly impressed him. Having read the canon to the saint, we then went on to Dunwich and its museum, where we ate. Then we headed for Burgh Castle, behind whose high Roman walls once probably stood St Fursey’s monastery. Vladyka then made his way to St Alexander Nevsky parish church in Norwich for a service of intercession to the Mother of God at 5.00 with all of the flock who were able to get away from work. Then there was tea in the parish kitchen, after which Vladyka went on to the private chapel at Mettingham in the north of Suffolk for another service.

During his ten-day visit Vladyka was able to visit other parishes, in London, Birkenhead, Cheltenham and Oxford, as well as the parish in Cardiff in Wales. It is our great hope that he will return in August to visit others, especially the parishes in Ireland, perhaps accompanied again by the extraordinary and previously little-known miraculous Iviron Icon from Hawaii. As we desperately need a monastery in our diocese, we hope that he could help found one for our English monks. However, our greatest and long-held hope is that he will come and live here permanently, uniting Russian Orthodox of all nationalities in these islands.

The Mother of God Visits the Isles

As the peoples of the Western part of Europe labour beneath the EU yoke – an elitist project, if there ever was one – there has come the hundredth anniversary of Fatima. Then the Mother of God, through three innocent and semi-literate peasant children in provincial Portugal, called on Western Europe to repent. If its leaders did not repent, She said, so the spiritual disease of atheism, sent to Russia from the West, would infect the Western world. And so it has happened. When martyred Russia finally freed herself from the burdensome illusion of the Soviet Union, the demons abandoned her and settled to create the European Union of atheism and depravity. The results we see daily before us.

Here in the Russian Orthodox world in England and Wales we have been blessed by the coming of the Mother of God through her Hawaiian Iveron icon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqJc0Knt7Ao), pouring forth myrrh. A monk accompanying Her stated that he for one had not witnessed such an abundant outpouring of myrrh before. The Mother of God is still waiting for the Western world to repent, for the swamp to be drained.

An Anglo-Russian Alliance?

In recent days anti-democratic EU bureaucrats and others in Brussels and Berlin have declared war on the UK, even interfering in the UK elections. They are angered by the UK people’s choice to leave their customs and political union. In their crass words, they have declared that Brexit UK owes it 100 billion euros. In the UK, many consider that the EU owes it 400 billion euros, the sum overpaid to the EU during the years when UK governments treacherously signed away our sovereignty to the EU for its mess of pottage without popular support. They arrogantly refused to consult the people – until Cameron, who at last allowed a referendum, but only because he was so blinded by arrogance and out of contact that he thought he could easily win it.

Now the EU is openly and treasonously trying to destroy the UK by prising away Northern Ireland and Scotland. In the UK there are those who consider that it is time for Ireland to be reunited and for Scotland and Wales to receive independence, but that the four countries should then immediately form a Confederation outside the EU, perhaps with a new Parliament building on the Isle of Man, from where all four countries of the Isles are visible. The old Victorian Parliament buildings in London, now falling down, could then become tourist sights. In an electronic age there is no need for a multinational Parliament to be in the English commercial capital of London.

The EU itself is bitterly divided and in chaos. The euro has been a disaster. Many of its countries, like Austria, the Baltics, Poland, the Czech Lands, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, are disobeying Brussels as regards immigration controls. Greece is bankrupt. Cyprus is almost. Catalonia wants its independence by a clear majority. Hungary rejects EU meddling. Eastern Europe has in general been ravaged by German economic imperialism, its factories closed and its young people forced to emigrate to Western Europe. Many in France want to leave the EU. As Marine Le Pen correctly said last week, the next President of France will be a woman: either herself, or else Mrs Merkel. It will certainly be no-one else in this Fourth Reich world.

The EU has declared war. It is thus achieving the opposite of what it wants, as it is uniting the British people and ensuring a landslide victory in the UK elections for the Conservative Party. This is now seen as the only Patriotic Party and the only Party with a strong leader, now fortified by the return of UKIP voters, most of whom had left the Conservative Party disillusioned with its takeover by modernists. People always unite around a strong leader in times of war, even though they would otherwise never vote Conservative. The Opposition to the Conservatives is laughable, but also treasonous.

Thus, on the western and eastern edges of the EU are two countries which should be uniting in this time of war against the EU: the UK and the Russian Federation. An unlikely couple: after all such New Cold War NATO British warmongers as Johnson and Fallon are sending British troops and arms to Estonia, controlled by its US puppet regime, in order to threaten Russia. These clowns are even overflying Russian territory in the Baltics, giving war equipment to the EU-sponsored and CIA-run anti-Ukrainian junta in Kiev, sending a British destroyer to patrol off the Russian coast in the Black Sea.

Not natural allies? True. And yet despite this and the imperialist British invasion of Russia in 1854-56, 210 years ago, 100 years ago and 75 years ago Great Britain and Russia fought together side by side against Continental Western European tyrants, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, the forerunners of today’s EU leaders. Today, again, there is a common enemy. Not to unite today and not to give up ridiculous, Russophobic Cold War rhetoric, would be a missed opportunity for the UK. Perhaps Non-EU Norway and Iceland would join us? And the rest of Scandinavia too? All could sign a friendship pact of mutual non-aggression and thus, we would form a geographical, political and economic bloc towering over the isolated and divided EU.

The UK and Russia are both pro-European countries and want to free the oppressed peoples of Europe from the EU monster. In this centenary year of the British-orchestrated elitist conspiracy that overthrew the greatest European leader of all, Tsar Nicholas II, founder of the Hague International Court of Justice, speaker of five European languages and builder of 18 Russian churches in Western Europe, it would be an act of repentance on the part of Britain to proclaim a new alliance with the Russian Federation.

An Anglo-Russian alliance? Most probably not, but a friend in need is a friend indeed…

Orthodox Christianity in the British Isles and Ireland: Seven Orthodox Churches, Nine Dioceses, One Deanery, Four Choices

Introduction

Every Christian denomination in every country of the world is divided into dioceses and parishes which reflect the geographical area where they are located. Moreover, there may also be internal, sociological divisions. For example, in the town where I live there are several parishes of the C of E (Church of England), but two of these parishes refuse to talk to each other because their views and patterns of worship are utterly different, one is ‘Anglo-Catholic’, elderly and wealthy, the other is ‘happy-clappy’, middle-aged and financially modest. There are also two Baptist churches which refuse to talk to one another, because one is strict, the other is liberal.

In the cities there is a similar situation in Roman Catholic parishes, which can have completely different tendencies (Polish/Irish/liberal/ traditional/‘charismatic’…) and also in monasteries, which belong to different orders. Nowadays, larger Roman Catholic parishes have masses at different times for different ethnic groups in different languages and with different Roman Catholic rites, Polish, Syro-Malabar, Greek-Catholic Ukrainian etc. There is often very little communication between these diverse groups. What is the situation regarding the Orthodox Church in this country? What sort of divisions are there here?

Seven Local Churches and Ten Groups

Of the fourteen Local Churches that make up the worldwide Orthodox Church only seven are represented outside their home countries. In the British Isles and Ireland these seven Churches have nine dioceses and one deanery. These are the following: the Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian, Constantinople (two dioceses, Greek and Ukrainian, and one deanery, Paris), Antiochian and Russian (two dioceses, Sourozh and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). These nine dioceses and one deanery are not territorial, but are superimposed on one another on the same territory. However, even so there is often little communication between them, as each caters for its own ethnic group. Of these ten groups, the first six, the Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian and the big Greek and the tiny Ukrainian nationalist dioceses of the Church of Constantinople, are largely concerned only with their own ethnic members.

Thus, the above generally appear not to observe the Gospel commandment of Matthew 28, that we are to go out into all the world and teach and baptize all. For example, although a small minority of parishes in the big Greek-speaking Diocese of the Church of Constantinople, mainly Cypriot by ethnicity, do sometimes accept English people, generally these people are Hellenized or even come from a Hellenophile public school background. Moreover, its archbishops, who must have Greek or Cypriot nationality, usually impose Greek names on any they may ordain, such as Kallistos instead of Timothy, Meletios instead of Peter, Aristobulos instead of Alban, and imposes names like Athanasios, Panteleimon and Eleutherios on others. This leaves four choices to the majority of native English speakers who are interested in trying to live according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church without having to change their name and national identity.

Four Choices

The first two of these choices, the Parisian and the Antiochian, appear to cater for two specific small English sociological groups, whereas the last two groups are both part of the Russian Orthodox Church. These are at once sociologically much broader as regards the range of English and other local people within them, but those people sometimes have a Russian connection and they are in a majority Russian Church.

1. The Paris Deanery (also called the Exarchate)

This is a very small Deanery belonging to a Diocese under an elderly and sick French bishop, received and ordained into the Church in 1974, based in Paris under the ‘Greek’ (Constantinople) Church. It has virtually no property of its own. Founded in Paris in the 1920s by anti-monarchist Saint Petersburg aristocrats, who had tried but failed to seize power from the Tsar, it had a small parish in London until 1945. However, in 2006 the group was refounded in this country after a noisy, aggressive and unfriendly divorce from the Russian Orthodox Sourozh Diocese (see below) and it strongly dislikes the Russian Orthodox Church as it is. In 2006 it was 300 strong, out of a then total of about 300,000 Orthodox in the UK, so it represented about one in a thousand Orthodox. Despite its tiny size, in 2006 its foundation was strongly supported by the Russophobic bastions of the British Establishment, the Church of England, the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. It is known for its attachment to the arts, philosophy and intellectualism and ordains easily, providing that the candidates come from ‘the right background’.

It tends to cater for rather elderly, upper-middle class Establishment figures – which is why it belongs to the Western-run Church of Constantinople, which uses the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, and not the independently-run Russian Orthodox Church. It is thus rather politicized and its perhaps clubby, county-town members tend to support the elitist Liberal Democrats. Its members, often in groups as small as five or ten, may, like their founder, be attracted to spiritual techniques, such as Buddhism, Sufi Islam, yoga or what is called ‘the Jesus Prayer’ (= noetic prayer in Orthodox language). It is not incarnate in any Local Orthodox Church and mixes different practices and customs, also introducing ‘creative’ customs of its own. Some of its more effete members quite unrealistically call their tiny Deanery ‘The Orthodox Church in Britain’, despite the fact that it is dwarfed by nine much more proletarian Orthodox Dioceses. This is rather like some members of the ‘Orthodox Church in America’, a US Orthodox group with a huge title which the Deanery much admires, but which is also dwarfed by others, numbering only some 30,000 out of 3,000,000 Orthodox in North America.

2. The Antiochian (Arab) Diocese

This very small ethnic ‘British Orthodox’ group, originally 300 in number, was founded as a Deanery as recently as 1996 by and for dissident Anglicans. They came from backgrounds as diverse as conservative Evangelicalism, moralistic Puritanism and charismatic Anglo-Catholicism, but all were dissatisfied with Anglicanism. Having since then converted only a few other Anglicans and apparently (??) without much interest in Non-Anglicans, its ex-Anglican clergy sometimes rely on Romanians to fill their churches. The group is known for its missionary zeal and sincerity, providing pastoral care where other Dioceses have failed to do so, but is also known for its lack of knowledge, pastoral and liturgical, and lack of realism. It has little property of its own. In 2016 this Deanery, which uses the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, became a Diocese and the first task of its new Arab bishop, without an Arab base and tradition, is in his own words to teach his clergy how to celebrate the services and so enter the mainstream. In the past it has ordained very easily, providing that its candidates are Anglican vicars. This, however, may be changing.

3. The Sourozh Diocese (also incorrectly called the Patriarchal Diocese) of the Russian Orthodox Church

Directly under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, this Diocese has existed for 55 years. It has had a varied history, having been marked by tendencies of liberal modernism as well as Soviet patriotism under its former bishop and founder, the late Metropolitan Antony Bloom of Paris, with his unique personality cult and curious personal views. After his death most of his closest followers, mainly ex-Anglicans, left to found the Paris Deanery (see above) and now the Sourozh Diocese seems to be more and more for the many ethnic Russian immigrants who have settled in this country over the last 20 years. However, there are exceptions and it still has some very active English groups (as well as dying traces of a Bloomite past), though most of its English clergy are now elderly.

4. ROCOR, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (also incorrectly called ROCA or ‘the Church Abroad’)

This Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Church Outside Russia is one of many dioceses under a Synod of fifteen Russian Orthodox bishops (three of them retired) centred in New York. It was originally founded in 1920 by Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow for White Russian émigrés exiled throughout the world. Self-governing and only indirectly under the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, with which it has excellent relations, ROCOR, once worldwide, is now dominant only in the English-speaking world, especially in the USA and Australia. It has seen many of its ethnically very closed parishes in South America and continental Western Europe shut or else dissolve into the more missionary-minded local dioceses of the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church, centred in Moscow. However, in the English-speaking world it is the voice of Russian Orthodoxy and its missionary-minded Canadian Metropolitan, formerly Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand, is, symbolically, the head of dioceses in New England and ‘Old’ England.

The local Diocese has a chequered history, with various incarnations. These range from noble White Russian roots, which especially after 1945 were infected by unpleasant, very right-wing and nationalistic anti-Communism and a generation after that by equally unattractive Anglo-Catholic sectarianism. The latter movement even tried to prise the Diocese from its faithfulness to Russian Orthodoxy. However, these generational nightmare incarnations thankfully died out with the end of the Cold War, quit the Church or else were pushed to the margins, where as relics they have almost disappeared. Over the new generation, after decades of neglect and nearly dying out in the early 1990s, this Diocese has been returning to its White Russian roots, understood as faithfulness, in Russian or in English, to the Orthodox Tradition, which has so much revived among Russians. Today’s ROCOR mission is to spread the Orthodox Faith and values of the reviving multinational Christian Empire of Holy Russia here and throughout the English-speaking world, as well as in its missions from South America to Western Europe, Haiti to Hawaii, Pakistan to South Korea, Costa Rica to Indonesia, and Nepal to the Philippines.

On Orthodox Missionary Work

Now that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has officially taken up the task of missionary work in the renewed Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland after several decades of disruption, it would be well to consider the nature of the missionary work that we need to do.

First of all, we must understand that there is only one sort of authentic missionary and pastoral work. This serves the people as a community, it is not an ideological plan on a map with pins in it, it is not top-down, but down-top, from the grassroots. Now, wherever there is a demand, ROCOR will do its best to meet that demand, setting up parishes where there is a need, now with official support. Where there are thirsty Orthodox people (at least one of whom can sing and read) and where there are premises, we will provide a priest. We can think of many cases in history of such missionary work, for example the mission of St Augustine in England in 597 or that of Sts Cyril and Methodius to St Rostislav, always in answer to a request. We can build nothing where there is not a spiritual need and a willingness to make sacrifices.

But what of areas where there is no actual demand, but just unconverted souls, potential Orthodox? Here we can take the examples of St Herman in Alaska and St Nicholas in Japan. They lived simply in a place for many, many years, praying, learning and understanding the people among whom they lived, before missionary work began. They waited for people to come to them, they did not serve themselves by imposing themselves on others. Self-serving (usually in the name of some personal problem and unfulfilled ambition) is pseudo-missionary work. It tries to impose itself, being characterized by gurus, vagantes and clericalists who like fancy titles, dressing up and having their photographs taken. They who do not look after the people, do not travel to meet people, even despising them for their simplicity.

We should be wary of the sort of ‘missionary’ work that despises the people, their languages and their customs and tries to force them into a strange mould that is not theirs. That is the false missionary work of those who use their personalities, not heartfelt faith in God, to convert others.

A Diocese is Reborn

Within a few weeks, the Russian Orthodox Church has gained a new diocese. This is the Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

For long become a tiny group of abandoned disparate parishes and orphaned, it has been reborn under His Grace Metropolitan Hilarion, whose secret is simply that he loves his flock. With many ordinations and tonsurings, we can now envisage a time when our diocese will grow enormously, with priests and parishes in Ireland north and south, in Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and in an ever increasing number of major cities and towns in England. Out with the old and in with the new.

In this way our ROCOR Diocese can further develop our identity, not just as faithful heirs to the authentic and uncompromised Russian Orthodox Tradition from pre-Revolutionary times, with our love for all the New Martyrs and Confessors, including the Imperial Martyrs, but also as faithful heirs to our local Anglo-Celtic saints and our local languages. We stand as a foundation of a future Local Church in Western Europe, for we are local, self-governing, independent, but also faithfully incarnated in the Russian Orthodox Tradition.
Thank you, Vladyko!