Category Archives: Local Churches

What Does it Need to Found a Local Church in the Diaspora?

The Orthodox Diasporas in the Western world have so far given birth to only one new, albeit compromised, Local Church. This is the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), founded over 50 years ago. Much disputed by others, it has unfortunately been a failure – the vast majority of Orthodox who live in Northern America have not joined it and do not wish to. It has not united Orthodox. However, it must be said, it has been a bold failure and its failure is hardly a matter for rejoicing. It was bold because elsewhere founding a new Local Church has not even been tried. We should learn from the OCA’s strengths as well as from its weaknesses.

True, in England, there was in the 1970s an attempt not to build a multinational Local Church, but a multinational or, at that time, trinational, chapel. This was in Oxford and involved émigré Russian (and English) academics, Greeks and Serbs. It was never going to work. The Serbs never took part, apart from a certain rather effeminate bishop who was then ‘disappeared’. It was set up in a tiny, octagonal, Methodist-looking chapel, not at all traditional on the outside. Then the ‘Russians’ left it through ejection and miraculously managed to set up their own English-language chapel elsewhere.

It left Greeks and a tiny number of ex-Anglican, pseudo-Russian Bloomite elitists in their Methodist-looking chapel. Now that large numbers of new Romanian immigrants have set up their own church in Oxford, the whole experiment is best forgotten. The Oxford chapel represents not even 10% of local Orthodox, rather like the OCA representation in Northern America. Why these failures? It is always ideologies that destroy the unity required for a Local Church, because ideologies are always by definition exclusive.

For example, new calendarism (one of the great failings of the OCA) and old calendarism (one of the great failings of the new 2020s ROCOR sect) are ideological enemies, as are political and nationalist ideologies, like those of the Greek nationalist Second Rome and the Russian nationalist Third Rome. Neither of them ever learned from the failure of the First Rome with its equally nationalist ‘Roman Catholicism’ (a contradiction in terms). All of these isms operate against and are destructive of any multinational Church, for any Diaspora Church must by definition be multinational, not nationalist. Only the concept of a Second Jerusalem can be successful. This, for example, was where the Russian Church failed, and three times over. Thus:

In Russian émigré Paris, French liberal intellectualism, imported back from Saint Petersburg, did nothing for the Paris Russians and as a result their jurisdiction became very small because exclusive. But at least, small, they were not corrupted by money, like the other two.

In the émigré ‘Russian Orthodox’ Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), the substitution of the subtle moderation of Russian émigré Orthodoxy for the very unsubtle extremism of US convert Orthodoxy. Well-financed Lutheran fanaticism was substituted for real Christianity. That is spiritual suicide, for no-one apart from crazy and uncharitable converts is interested.

The Moscow Patriarchate itself has been badly served both by Soviet nationalism and the corrupting riches of the post-Soviet episcopate together with their sexual perversions, as we can see at this very moment. But what has been rumoured for years in Moscow and elsewhere, is only the tip of the iceberg. The MP and ROCOR have to be cleansed. An antique-filled seaside cottage (cottage, not the antique-filled Victorian house, that is another story) on the south coast of England (in the nineteenth century gay Anglican bishops would also ‘resort’ to south-coast Brighton) is not the solution. The toilets are flushing.

In England, we Orthodox will be neither pro-Soviet, nor pro-American, but faithful to local realities. You can only build a Local Church, if you want it and believe in it.


The Popular Revolt in the West and National Conservatism

A spectre haunts Europe. It is the spectre of popular insurrection against the narcissistic Globalist elite. This elite has been appointed to rule the peoples of the Secularist Western world and has only contempt for its peoples. Now the people are getting their own back. In Hungary Orban, in Slovakia Fico (whom they tried to assassinate), in France Le Pen, in Germany the AfD, in the UK Farage, in Italy Meloni, in the Netherlands Wilders, in the US Trump, in Spain, Poland and almost everywhere, the people are revolting. The people want a Gaullist Europe of the Nations and a World of Nation-States, not Globalism.

They want both social conservatism, that is, personal responsibility, and social justice, that is care for others, a social safety net for the weak. What they do not want is social liberalism with its anti-family and anti-national ethos and LGBT ideology, nor do they want social injustice, that is the Western-imposed system of oligarchy, rule by billionaires. Although the peoples of the West do not yet know it, they are preparing their about-to-be-freed nations to join the World Alliance of BRICS. This is the already born and growing replacement for that hopelessly outdated anachronism, the post-World War II United Nations.

As a result, the Western elite is panicking. It is losing its millennial position of world domination and sees its ideology of supremacism, known as hegemony or unipolarity, utterly discredited. This is what the elite inherited from its feudal ancestors. At the centre of this panic is the Ukraine and the coming US elections. The Western elite has attacked another Civilisation, Christian Civilisation, led by the Russian Superpower. In desperation, it is now committing acts of terrorism. Western extremists even want to raise conscript armies in Europe, in Sweden, Germany and the UK for another ‘forever war’.

However, young people in the West do not want to fight and die for the Ukraine, with which they have nothing in common. It is not as though our own countries are being attacked. They do not want to fight, and their parents do not want them to fight, in order to keep the Western elite in their millennial power and luxury. All understand that this is self-justification, the elite wants others to die for them, ‘to the last Ukrainian’ and to the last Western ‘pleb’. For that is all we are to the elite, ‘plebs’, serfs who are just as expendable as were our ancestors in two World Wars, the lions led by the donkeys.

To the elite the people oppose ‘National Conservatism’. What is this? In short, it is respect, that is, respect for self, for the family, for the nation-state and for the Divine Being, the Source of all spiritual and so moral values. We want social justice, but also traditional values, the best of the old-fashioned left and of the old-fashioned right. We resist the anti-patriotic Globalism of the cosmopolitan elite and all its corrosive effects on traditional faith, national identity, families and individuals. We want the resurrection of all the countries of the world, especially of our own Western countries, which are already toppling.

The Globalist ideology is satanic for it consists of uniting the world by force. Then it will be submitted to one dictator by reducing everything in it to the lowest common denominator – bread and circuses, consumerism and the media. This is the old pagan Roman imperialism: believe whatever you want, as long as you bow down to the Emperor and obey him in everything important. Those who are behind the thrones in Washington and Brussels know what they are doing. Those Globalists hasten to do the bidding of their master Satan who wants all to unite under his puppet. We the patriots oppose them to the death.

However, we are now at the turning-point of the elite’s millennial era with Project Ukraine. The Globalists are desperate not to be seen losing in the Ukraine before the US election in November. Facing inevitable defeat, first they are trying terrorism, slitting the throat of an Orthodox priest on the Feast of Pentecost and murdering holidaymakers on a beach in the Crimea, slaughtering more children and injuring many others with cluster munitions. Then they will consider even the nuclear option. Such is the price of their hubris, their superiority complex, born of their arrogance and ignorance.

What Will Happen to the Orthodox Church After the Fall of Washington?

The powers of this world have throughout history tried to abuse religious belief by making it into their own nationalist and ritualist institutions. This has been to camouflage and justify their nationalism, that is, their attachment to this world, their worldliness. Chinese, Indians, Jews, Greeks, Japanese, Copts, Syrians, Armenians, Arabs, Latins, Germans, Greeks, Spanish, Russians, French, British, Americans, they have all done it. These are just facts from Church history. How do Christians remain outside and resist an ideology which puts national and worldly issues above Christ, all for the sake of amassing more power and money? There are only two ways of resisting:

Either you are a Confessor, or else you are a Martyr. Thus, St Stephen the First Martyr was stoned to death by the Jews because he upset their nationalism. He was only following the prophets and St John the Baptist, who had told the nationalist King Herod the truth, and Christ Himself, Whom they crucified. Then came such Confessors as St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostom. And in the twentieth-century there were the hundreds of thousands of Martyrs all over Eastern Europe, as well as Confessors like St Nectarios of Aegina, St Luke of the Crimea, St John of Shanghai or St Paisios the Athonite. There is nothing new under the sun. The saints are always the best witnesses.

In recent centuries the Church in the Middle East and the Balkans was oppressed by Ottomans, Poles and Austro-Hungarians. Meanwhile the Russian Church was oppressed by Westernising rulers, even more so after 1917. In the nineteenth century and even before, the main Patriarchate outside Russia, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, was used as a plaything by the British and French ambassadors. The Western Powers also appointed German kinglets to rule the newly-liberated Balkan countries in their name.

Since the second half of the twentieth century, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has in the same way become the plaything of US ambassadors there. Meanwhile the Patriarchate of Moscow was being used as a plaything by the Soviet State. Neither the US State of the Soviet State was Christian. Both were, whatever the theory, in practice atheist. This situation has continued by centuries of inertia even after the end of the first so-called Cold War in 1991, but in ways even more terrible than before.

Thus, in Moscow, Stalinist centralisation has continued, repelling all Non-Russians from the Church, as Metropolitan Vladimir of Moldova openly described in his recent letter to Patriarch Kyrill. For fifty years we too were treated as second-class citizens by the same Russian Church. None of this is because this mentality has been forced on the Church by the State, but because it has become a bad reflex inside the Church. It is nothing to do with the State. For example, a fragment of Moscow, the New York ROCOR has done this too, completely discrediting itself, mistreating Non-Russians. (As one of its bishops said to me recently, ROCOR is ‘a train wreck’).  The mentality to repel all, including many Russians, has been imposed internally. The only real slavery comes from ourselves, not from others.

We can see the same mentality also in the uncanonical, US-orchestrated actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Ukraine and elsewhere since 2018. Sadly, Constantinople fell to Greek racist hatred and jealousy of Russians.  It could simply have refused to do any of its horrors. But the $25 million bribe was irresistible to the weak. Since then a second Cold War has begun, with US proxy forces trying to weaken and destroy Russia from the Ukraine. It means that the heavy burden of steering the ship of the Church has fallen to those less politicised, more free, to the now 14 other Local Churches. Their role has been dependent on the political freedom which they have.

Thus, under Communism in Eastern Europe and under the US control of the Greek Churches, the Serbian Church stood out as a beacon of relative freedom and theology. Today, in this respect the Albanian Church seems to have taken the lead as the voice of freedom, though the long-overdue visit of Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America to the persecuted Ukrainian Church is also a miracle. The remaining 14 Local Churches are not all united because they do not enjoy the same measure of freedom. They are only relatively free compared to Constantinople and Moscow. For instance, the actions of the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople have brought some of the other Local Churches into a state of internal schism.

Specifically, the Cypriot and Bulgarian Churches are now in a state of internal schism as a direct result of the US interference in Constantinople, both direct and indirect. Equally, the US-controlled Patriarchate of Alexandria and Moscow are in schism because of the latter’s interference in Africa. Other Local Churches, like the Romanian and the Georgian, which have a strong national identity, take an independent line, ignoring uncanonical Greek and uncanonical Russian alike. This is despite the attempts by the local US ambassadors, who behave like the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, to interfere in the choice of Patriarchs and policies. This independence is the only way to go. It is freedom.

However, our question is what will happen after the US stops interfering in internal Church affairs. It is our hope that, once political pressure eases, the Greek Churches in particular can take the lead and get out of political distortions and contortions, abandoning imperialist fantasies, recognising new autocephalies, notably that of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and its Diaspora. However, the Russian Church also has to give up its Soviet-style centralisation, which is its imperialist fantasy. It has to grant autocephaly to parts of the Church in now independent countries.

The shadow of the old Imperialism, Russian or Soviet, just like Greek and Latin imperialism, has cast a long shadow on Church life. Its time is up. For the Church does not consist of one Local Church ruling imperially over all the others, but of their entirety, their catholicity – all the Local Churches together. Once political meddling is over, all the Local Churches must hold a Council together. A free and canonically ordered Council, not the 2016 robber-Council farce in Crete. Then the very many long-outstanding issues between the Local Churches can at last be resolved. In freedom. May God’s Will be done!



The Situation of the Orthodox Church in Britain in 2024

Introduction: The Apostasy of Non-Orthodoxy

In the last fifty years the situation of Protestantism and Catholicism in Britain has changed radically. That transformation can be summed up by one word – apostasy. In modern Britain once predominant Protestant sects, including religious organisations like the Church of England, the Church of Scotland and the Church of Wales, the Methodist Church etc are rapidly disappearing. The covid period, when clergy voluntarily closed their churches, all too often it would seem through cowardice, was a disaster. Many people who were closed out then have not returned. Statistically those Protestant groups are predicted to disappear by 2060. As they were founded at earliest in the sixteenth century, they will have lasted at most 500 years. Their members have simply lost their faith. Why go to church, when its leaders preach the same secularism as everyone else and are afraid of covid?

For the moment, discredited Protestantism survives almost only among Pentecostal African immigrants and in faddish happy-clappy groups. Elsewhere, it would seem that, as one commentator has put it, the Gospel has been replaced by ‘The Guardian’. In other words, faith has been swept away by the tidal wave of secularism and wokeism, imposed from the USA: anything goes. Little wonder that some people look to Islam, whose Muslims actually believe in something. Meanwhile, pedophile-undermined Catholicism, led by a politician Pope who scandalises many faithful Catholics, has since the modernism of the 1960s also been fast collapsing. In Britain Catholicism is now populated essentially by Poles, Portuguese, Filippinos, Hungarians etc. Given this apostasy, where could the few native people in Britain who still actually believe in Christ-God look to go to church?

Orthodox Christianity

There remains the option of the Orthodox Church, also composed essentially of immigrants, and some of whose bishops are just as politically-minded and so just as secular as Non-Orthodox leaders. Over the last two generations since I have been active in the Orthodox Church, the situation of Orthodox Christianity in Britain has been transformed. Once consisting of a small number of elderly, highly politicised and often aristocratic White Russians, based in London, a few very closed Serbs and other Slavs exiled here after 1945, and large numbers of modest Greek Cypriots, living in north and east London or running restaurants in seaside resorts, today’s situation is very different. As the older generations of Orthodox immigrants have simply died out, leaving little trace, new waves of immigration have followed.

Over the last fifty years the population of Orthodox in Britain has gradually tripled from 220,000 to 670,000, to one in a hundred, mainly because of twenty-first century immigration. However, in large parts of the country, there is still no choice as to which Orthodox church to attend, since Orthodox churches are still few and far between. But in larger cities, above all in London, there is a choice of churches. What is the difference between them? Of Orthodox groups we do not include here the quite small groups of Serbs, Bulgarians, Georgians and Ukrainians, as these groups are almost always closed, mononational, and generally do not welcome native people as members. However, this still leaves four groups, which native British people could attend. These are:

The Greeks

A generation ago this was by far the largest Orthodox group in Britain. It is composed in fact not of Greeks, but above all of Greek-Cypriots. The clergy of this group, including bishops, was once notorious for sending away any English enquirers, often quite rudely, and telling them to ‘join the Church of England’, in a curious mixture of racism and syncretism. Only in recent years, faced with the possibility of dying out, has it changed. Now under Greek-American control, it realises that in order to survive and keep its young people or to attract others, it must use English in its services and stop pretending to be just some form of Greek nationalist Protestantism. It has also for political reasons accepted small groups of Ukrainians, a few Russians and some English people and has a large multinational convent or monastery, with largely Romanian nuns. With an excellent infrastructure of church properties, wisely and very cheaply amassed in the 1950s and 1960s, and still for the moment with more priests than any other Orthodox group, it has great opportunities.

However, many feel that the opening to English has come much, much too late. This group has already been destroyed by its Greek nationalism and racist imperialism, which revolts most Orthodox. Also the last thirty years when it should have made the transition to English have been wasted. The result: the Protestant Church of England has dozens of Non-Greek-speaking, but ethnic Greek clergy! Unable to speak Greek, these descendants of immigrants left for well-paid jobs with free housing in the Protestant Church of England, using a language which they spoke and understood. As a result, most of the Greek clergy in the Greek Church are elderly and many of its parishes are clearly dying out. In many parishes the only children are Romanian, the old people are all Greek Cypriots, who after sixty years here often still speak poor English. Their assimilated descendants have long since left the Church. Why should they attend the foreign Church of their great-grandparents, whose main article of faith appears to be waving Greek and Cypriot flags? They have learned that Christ was not Greek; apparently, most have not.

The Romanians

This is by far the largest, most welcoming and most dynamic Orthodox group in Britain today, with over 450,000 Romanians and Romanian-speaking Moldovans, average age about 35, not including children. The vast majority have arrived here in the last twenty years. However, the Romanian Church, made up almost uniquely of these recent and modest immigrants has very poor infrastructure, with only 70 parishes, not much better than that of the relatively few canonical Russians. The result is that many Romanians frequent other Orthodox churches (there is nowhere else to go in the absence of their own church – although when a Romanian church does open, they leave the church they used to attend). There are also some very overworked priests, some doing a thousand baptisms a year, up to 20 at a time and hundreds of confessions per week. However, the help of the Romanian ambassador has recently enabled us to obtain a bishop for Romanian Orthodox in this country, who is to be appointed next month.

His Cathedral in Edmonton, North London, bought last December, will be ready later this year. There is great potential here, but only if the Romanian Church can avoid the errors of the Russians, all repeated by the Greeks. Avoiding this error means keeping the masses of young people in the Church, despite the fact that they will inevitably end up speaking better English than Romanian and be assimilated. The error of flag-waving Russian and Greek nationalism and politics must not develop into flag-waving Romanian nationalism and politics. That would be just as irrelevant to the assimilated descendants of Romanian and Moldovan immigrants, as Russian and Greek nationalism was to the assimilated descendants of Russian and Greek immigrants. Waving a foreign flag is of no interest to those who feel more British than Romanian, Greek or Russian and have little interest in the old country. Christ was not Greek, but he was not Russian or Romanian either.

The (Canonical) Russians

The Moscow Russians were once well-known among Anglicans for their famous émigré bishop and missionary, Antony Bloom. He knew how to talk to Anglicans, some indeed thought him rather Anglican, and certainly his presence developed into a controversial personality cult. Son of an atheist diplomat from the Tsar’s Russia and of the sister of the composer Scriabin, he was a very talented man, who created a small, multinational, though rather elitist, diocese. However, he died twenty years ago, in the past. Most Russians here never knew him. Under the present wave of Russian nationalism, the remains of his diocese are tending to resemble a national ghetto. The present Russian diocese appears to have rejected a lot of Ukrainians and treated Moldovans badly, exactly as it has done some English people. Today, this group exists only in the embassy area of west London and in a number of chapels outside London. Outside the capital most of its clergy, who knew Metropolitan Antony Bloom, are dying out. Despite recent bright prospects, today its future is in serious doubt. But perhaps changes in Moscow will soon be under way.

(There is also a former émigré group of Russians, known as ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). This now numbers fewer than 1,000, perhaps only 500. Having rejected its traditional Russian roots, gone into schism in 2021 and as a result lost over half of its already small diocese, this tiny Trump-voting, US-based and US-cultured cult has tried to attract others. Having seen its original Russian émigré base die out or leave it for non-schismatic churches, they have attracted mainly right-wing, sectarian-minded English people, including Anglo-Catholics of an unusual orientation. Having seen its original Russian émigré base die out, it is trying to recruit Ukrainian refugees unsuccessfully, as they reject anything that is called Russian and psychologically normal Ukrainians do not wish to frequent a sect anyway. The schismatic ROCOR appears to have no future, since it has cut itself off from the Church).

The Antiochians

Critics call the Antiochians ‘Angliochians’, as they seem to be largely composed of ex-Anglicans. Probably with fewer than 2,000 laypeople, and many of these visiting Romanians with nowhere else to go, the mainly ex-Anglican clergy under the Patriarchate of Antioch (in fact of Damascus in Syria) are few, elderly and often do not know how to celebrate the services. Some of these appear to be more anti-Anglican rather than Orthodox.

However, in defence, we must say that, apart from a few recent converts who have pathological chips on their shoulders, members of this group are sincere, well-intentioned and have made great sacrifices to enter this Arab Patriarchate. The mere fact of their existence is a witness to their faith and zeal, despite the discouragement of Greeks and Russians alike. Hence those who declare that ‘Anti-och’ is for those who are ‘anti-Russian and anti-Greek’.

Conclusion: Disenfranchising the Franks

For the few remaining Christians in Britain, Orthodox Christianity probably represents a step that culturally goes too far, it is too radical. For Orthodox Christianity is the millennial opposite of Secularism, whose ancestor is Protestantism, whose ancestor is Catholicism. All are cut from the same secular block. Catholicism is secular because it wanted to control the world, making the Pope of Rome into a Super-King, an Emperor of the world, higher than all rulers. Protestantism was secular because it subjected itself to secular rulers and so to worldliness, for example, in England it was an invention of the rulers Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

For this reason, to join the Orthodox Church is an act that disenfranchises, that is, ‘defranks’ the Norman-imposed Frankish Establishment, depriving them of their freedom, privileges and self-appointed right to tyrannise the people. Only if you have understood this and wish to reject this inherent secularism, would you wish to belong to the Orthodox Church. It is the only logical solution, if you want something that is not inherently and institutionally compromised by Secularism. If you have not understood this, you will remain somewhere inbetween, in what is now the no-man’s land, outside Orthodoxy Christianity. However, surely a no-man’s land is not the best place to be at a time when the fiercest spiritual warfare is raging from the trenches in the anti-Christian modern world all around us?




Who Will Create a Multinational Local Orthodox Church in Western Europe?


Millions of Orthodox Christians live in Western Europe and are under some thirty bishops. And yet we have no Local Church of our own, unlike the far fewer in any of the twelve Local Churches in Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Poland, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Albania, the OCA or for that matter in the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. Why?


For a very brief period in the mid-1980s, we hoped that the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople might create a united Local Orthodox Church for the then hundreds of thousands of Orthodox, 99% immigrants or descendants of immigrants, in the countries of Western Europe. Given the political paralysis of the far more numerous Russians and the purely political ideological division between the three warring Russian immigrant groups, ultimately caused by the Soviet atheist regime and the oppression of a hostage-Church inside the USSR, as well as personal passions, the Greek solution seemed possible. The Greeks had a whole network of bishops in Europe and unity. All was possible.

Sadly, the Greeks were largely only interested in playing politics and Greek nationalism, known as ‘Hellenism’, implemented by bishop-bureaucrats. ‘God only understands Greek’, as they used to say and still say, when they told Non-Greeks to ‘go away’. In 1989 Constantinople consecrated an ambitious Non-Greek bishop, but he had to pay a $20,000 bribe out of his pocket for the privilege. It all ended up very badly and he was soon suspended in a scandal. And now it is happening again: an ambitious young convert-careerist, though not in the same Patriarchate, has messed up and created a scandal. We have seen it all before. It is tiresome when a young know it all does not learn from the mistakes of others.


After our long-awaited victory with the reconciliation of the largest part of the Russian emigres with the Church inside Russia in May 2007, for which unity we had worked tirelessly for over two decades, we had new hopes. Sectarianism had at last been suppressed. From 2007 to 2017 we hoped against hope that the reunited and reconciled Russians would use their God-given opportunity to create a new Local Church in Western Europe. This would naturally have meant not repeating the error which the Moscow Patriarchate had made with the ‘OCA’ in the USA, that is, it would have to encourage and involve the co-operation of all the Local Churches with Diasporas in Western Europe, not least the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This would require diplomacy, bringing all on side, not isolationism and exclusivist political and racial ideologies.

Sadly, the Russians responsible messed up big time and chose the wrong way. For example, the main Moscow bishops appointed in Paris went from bad to worse. One was openly homosexual, the next openly lived with his wife and child and was alcoholic, and the next was a ruthless political careerist who backed a schism. Then came Russian isolationism after the schismatic US Greek project in the Ukraine and, among the emigres, full-blooded schism and sectarianism. Russian nationalist ghettoes, increasingly more extreme, more pathological and therefore ever smaller and crazier, were formed. The new level of conflict in the Ukraine and associated persecutions and defrockings of clergy, who have a different political opinion from the official hierarchy. All this, amid the hypocritical silence of the emigres, has made the situation dire.


Politically-inspired Greek and Russian infighting in Church matters in Western Europe seems petty and irrelevant in the face of the massive Romanian/Moldovan Orthodox immigration to Western Europe of the last 15 years. This now numbers well over 4 million on official statistics (1), in nearly 1,000 parishes, soon with 12 bishops. Unlike Russians and Greeks, of whom only about 2% at most ever set foot in church, Romanians and Moldovans massively practise their faith. Moreover, Romanians speak a Latin language written in a Latin alphabet, they are generally very open, welcoming and want English in their services for their children. And children there are. As one Greek bishop told me: ‘When you go into a Greek church in London and see children, you know that they are Romanians’. They are some of the children of the 200,000 Romanians who live in London alone (there are nearly 600,000 Romanians and Moldovans who officially live in the UK, no doubt more unofficially).

All other Orthodox are outnumbered by them by perhaps five to one. The mantle has then passed to the Romanians, as both Greeks and Russians have failed to meet the challenge of setting up a new Local Church. The Romanian Church is by far the largest Church in Western Europe, bigger than all the others put together, but although autonomous, as the newest it is also the poorest, with the weakest infrastructure. With such numbers there is an opportunity. However, the same mistakes can still be made all over again. In other words, the Church can be made into a nationalist organisation, which will be irrelevant to the UK-born children of Romanian and Moldovan immigrants. We who belong to the Moldovan part of the Church, meaning that we have Russian liturgical customs and the old calendar, are especially conscious of this. Let us not repeat the errors of the Russians, who have mistreated Moldovans as second-class citizens for so long, just as they mistreated us English Orthodox in exactly the same way for so long.

Conclusion: The People’s Orthodoxy and Leadership

What is certain from what we have seen over the last fifty years is that there will never be a Local Orthodox Church in former Roman Catholic and Protestant Western Europe until ideologies cease. It does not matter whether these ideologies are racial (not to say racist), or political (Russian right-wing or Greek left-wing). All ideologies are divisive. Only the grassroots People’s Orthodoxy can defeat such top-down ideologies, but for this they also need leadership. The absence of a Local Church is the result of this failure.

Note 1:,countries%20where%20they%20are%20indigenous.

2. Practical Consequences of No Local Church: The Pastoral Situation in England

As one Serbian priest in France put it to me 30 years ago, living in Western culture for Orthodox Christians is like entering an acid bath. In other words, you face spiritual death through assimilation, unless you keep your identity – that is, the Orthodox Faith. And that is virtually impossible to do unless you have a normal parish church with services at least twice a week and which is accessible. Here I will speak of England because I have known the situation here for fifty years, seen them all come and go, and here is where I know today’s situation best. Here most churches are either dying out or have already died out.


ROCOR in England had completely died out after three generations (1917-1992). The faith had not been passed on at all. Typically, children, grandchildren and, even more, great-grandchildren abandoned Orthodoxy, the process sped up with intermarriage (with such tiny numbers, there was literally ‘no-one to marry’ inside the Church). With basically only one permanent church to go to in west London and living outside London, people lost a Church, which appeared to give them no pastoral care outside London. Some of the first generation, like the late Professor Nikolai Andreyev in Cambridge, themselves actually had their children baptised in the Church of England from the outset: ‘We are in England now’, he said.

Others changed their surnames to English surnames, Volkoff to Wolcough, Kalinsky to Kay, for instance. Some strove to eliminate any sign of an English accent in their speech. The old ROCOR priest in Bradford refused to baptise any Russian children and sent them to the Church of England for ‘christening’. He told his parishioners: ‘There’s no point. They won’t replace me, so the church will close down after me’. Of course, he was actually right. He died and that was it. His church disappeared many years ago. Most children said that Orthodoxy was only for old people: ‘It’s nothing to do with me, I’m English’ and ‘I don’t understand what it’s all about’. Two years ago, already tiny ROCOR lost by far its biggest parish, six other parishes and over half its clergy, half its jurisdiction, because of its now schismatic foreign nature and its arrogant refusal to listen to the local people. People and clergy voted with their feet and left.

ROCOR only continues to exist today because it ‘restocked’ over the last thirty years from the ex-Soviet Union (though Ukrainians have now left that aggressively Russian institution) and from a few American-style crazy converts with their sectarian views. I know only six of the old generation, whose Russian grandparents immigrated here. Three are atheists, one is Church of England, and one became a Jew by being circumcised when in his twenties. Only one, now in her eighties, remains Orthodox (though her children and grandchildren are all Church of England). However, she does not go to church, even though she lives only 30 minutes away from London, because of the sectarian nature of the new ROCOR regime.


The Patriarchate of Constantinople used to have by far the largest jurisdiction in England. It expanded greatly between the 1950s and 1970s through the mass immigration of Cypriots. At one time it had six bishops. Its new Archbishop has told me that he now has 100 priests who are very elderly, but only three candidates to replace them. Churches that were attended by 500-1,000 forty years ago now get congregations of 20-30 elderly. Many smaller seaside town parishes will probably close. Whenever children appear in them, you know that they are Romanians. There are also embarrassing rifts between Cypriots, Greeks and Cretans. The worst case by far was in Brighton, but it is not easy elsewhere, with Greeks looking down on Cypriots as provincials who cannot even speak Greek properly. There are large numbers of Anglican vicars of Greek descent, whose parents had immigrated here. I have come across over twenty of them (and one who is Russian). Why? Because they never understood a word of Greek services. On top of that, considering themselves to be English, they could get a well-paid job and a free house in the Church of England. Nothing like that in the Orthodox Church!

The Greeks have a reputation for the flag waving of extreme nationalism. It is probably unfair. Russians can be extremely racist. And others. However, I have to say that all the worst experiences I have come across over the last fifty years have been with Greeks, but perhaps simply because they were so numerous. I have met several English people who visited Greek churches and were told literally: ‘Go away’. (Also in far less polite language). One Greek priest told one Englishman: ‘Join the Church of England, you are English, you can’t join us, wrong nationality’. (The man in question later joined the Russian Church and became a priest there). Another case: ‘You can’t come here, you’re not dark enough’. It is a sad fact that most Greek churches (but in fairness, not only Greek ones) are merely ethnic clubs.

As a prison chaplain, I regularly see middle-aged Cypriots in prison. They are the children and grandchildren of the original immigrants. They do not speak a word of Greek and have not the least idea of Orthodoxy. One of them told me that when his grandmother had told him that he was ‘Orthodox’, he had thought that he was a Jew. The only bright spots are the convent/monastery in Tolleshunt Knights in Essex, now with 25 Romanian nuns, and at last building a larger church, and Bp Rafael, the new Greek bishop (and the only Orthodox bishop) in Scotland. Tolleshunt Knights has welcomed all nationalities. Bp Rafael has done the same, welcoming all nationalities and calendars and is in effect the Bishop of Scotland. Only he has the authority and openness. (A pity for us that he is not in England!). In both cases, there is real hope. Why? Because both put Christ first and not their nationality.

The Others

Leaving aside the post-1945 Belarussians, Latvians and Poles who all died out, also the tiny numbers of very inward-looking but still churched Georgians and Bulgarians, and the Paris Russians (ROCOR virtually killed them off with aid from the Moscow Patriarchate), we come to the Serbs, the Patriarchal Russians, the Antiochians, the Ukrainians and the Romanians. The Serbs have faced the same problems as the others and the wave of post-1945 immigrants died out; one of the last of them I buried in a Suffolk village a few years ago. He had not been to church since the 1950s. Few kept the Faith. Some changed their surnames, one Serbian priest I knew dressed like an Anglican minister also baptised like an Anglican minister, by splashing water on foreheads of babies, telling me that: ‘We are not in the Balkans now’.

The Patriarchal Russians, once Bloomites, have also largely died out, but have restocked from the ex-Soviet Union. Today their Church sometimes gives the impression (which may or may not be the case) of being an aggressively nationalistic ghetto, an extension of the Embassy, with all the faults that can be found in churches in post-Soviet Russia, all about money and ritualism. However, possibly things will improve after the conflict in the Ukraine ends. The Antiochians appear to be a group for dissatisfied Anglicans and elderly ex-vicars, who do not know how to celebrate the services, but perhaps if they get enough laypeople of other nationalities, something may come of it. Some of the converts are rather extreme Evangelicals, who have little idea of Orthodoxy. That is worrying, however, some of its clergy behave as real pastors. The Ukrainians are very divided into pre-2022 Ukrainians (under Constantinople, extremely nationalistic, elderly, dying out) and the refugees since the tragedy of 2022. The latter are very small in number for now (most of the refugees were atheists, schismatics or else Uniats) and live under the disputed jurisdiction of Kiev.

Finally, we come to the masses of Romanians (and Moldovans). Nearly all have come here recently and in huge numbers, over 400,000, perhaps 500,000 or even more, forming the vast majority of Orthodox in this country. However, although there are very big parishes, with hundreds coming every Sunday, there are still fewer than 40 priests, still no resident bishop and a small monastery under construction near Luton. This is a jurisdiction that is being formed, but with a chronic lack of infrastructure because all is new. However, it is very young and dynamic. One Romanian priest I know does nearly 1,000 baptisms a year, usually about 20 at a time, every week. This is the youth. Speaking a Latin language and with a surprisingly open mentality, Romanian parishes are generally by far the most welcoming and the most open to English. Hope is here, providing that we learn from the mistakes of the Greeks and Russians who went before us. The three-generation rule seems to be implacable: if you manage to transmit the Faith to the third generation, a new Local Church can be born. If not, you will die out.



1. Why There Are No Local Churches in the Western World

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


So far only one new Local Church has resulted from Orthodox immigration to Western countries. It was largely the result of the first immigration to the USA from the then Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1880 on. This Church is called the OCA – the Orthodox Church in America. Unfortunately, even after over fifty years, despite intermarriage with Non-Orthodox and local people who have joined the OCA, 80%-90% of local Orthodox have not accepted it, nor many bishops, let alone the hundreds of millions of Non-Orthodox. Although Orthodox immigration to North America began nearly 150 years ago, more general, large-scale Orthodox immigration to the Western world only began after 1917.

The absence of new Local Churches amid the current presence of millions of Orthodox immigrants, their descendants and native Orthodox from the last hundred years, thousands of Orthodox priests and nearly one hundred Orthodox bishops in North and South America, Western Europe and Australia, is the elephant in the room. If you take away the four largest of the sixteen Local Orthodox Churches, the Russian, Romanian, Greek and Serbian, the number of Orthodox in Western Europe alone is greater than in any of the other twelve Local Churches! Why this absence of new Local Churches for millions of Orthodox? What has gone wrong?


The answer could be summed up in one word – ideology. For Orthodox Christianity is not and cannot be an ideology. It is the Church, the Gospel. And anyone who believes that the Church and the Gospel form an ideology is not a Christian. For an ideology, that is, an ‘ism’, is always negative, it is always opposed to something or someone, always exclusive, always divisive, always based on dislike and even hatred. In the Gospels Christ never excluded, making it clear that the only exclusion comes from men, not from God. Indeed, He was Himself persecuted and excluded in the most radical way – He was murdered and precisely for purely ideological reasons – He did not ‘fit in’ with an ideology. What forms have these ideologies taken in the Western world, into which Orthodox Christians immigrated?

1) Nationalist Ideology

The first ideology impeding the development of a Local Church is nationalism or racism. Nationalism is a particular form of parochialism, the idea that ‘only what we do is right’, ‘our way is the best’, in other words, racial exclusivism. Whether Greek, Russian, American or other, all nationalist ideologies are by definition exclusive. Here there has been a major problem even with the OCA. Although it did not put one single nationality first, it put several nationalities first. And in order to bind these nationalities together, it did not put Christ first, but Americanism.

Thus, it purposely and at great expense moved its centre to the national capital, Washington, and began imposing English on all, together also with the American calendar. However, the Church must operate in the languages of the grassroots faithful and on the calendar that they want, not those imposed on them from above. These are pastoral and not ideological matters. Thus, nationalism in Orthodoxy can also be that of the English language or other Western languages, ‘We will not accept anyone who does not conform to our nationality’. This is nationalism.

For example, I remember here some twenty years ago one Englishwoman who told me that she wanted to join our Church, but said that she did not want to mix with ‘foreigners’. I told her that we could not accept her condition: Christ mixed with ‘foreigners’ – indeed He was Himself a ‘foreigner, an ‘Asian’ and ‘olive-skinned’! She was horrified. Later I heard how she had joined a right-wing group which was part of a rather extreme nationalist party. She had deprived herself of the Church, as she had been unable to overcome her prejudices. She had excluded herself from the Church of God.

2) Political Ideology

Next come political ideologies, that is to say, isms which define inclinations to left or to right. People are all different and have different experiences of life and form their political views according to their experiences. Thus, for instance, a very poor Greek factory worker who immigrates to the USA may profess a left-wing ideology, whereas a Russian aristocrat, who has been deprived of his wealth by Communists, will choose a right-wing ideology. There is nothing wrong with either of these choices – they are both sincere. What is wrong is when these ideologies are placed above Christ and imposed on all exclusively, imposed instead of Christ, Who is the only central and unifying factor in Church life. This has been especially visible in the Russian Church. This has three different groups, supposedly united, and yet in Europe one of them (ROCOR) has excommunicated another (the Archdiocese of Western Europe)! So are sects born.

In Church terms we have seen, especially in the USA over the last sixty years, a polarisation between left and right in Church life. For example, one senior bishop there openly supports the Democrat Party and another openly supports Trump. The question is do they both also support Christ? It is not very clear. This opposition between left and right divides into modernism, liberalism, ecumenism and new calendarism on the one hand and, on the other hand, traditionalism, conservatism, sectarianism and old calendarism. Where is Christ in all these arguments? Such are the arguments between parties that many refuse even to concelebrate and socialise with those of the other view. I thought they were all Orthodox Christians.

All this is due to a total lack of respect. And where does respect come from? It comes from love. A husband and wife who love one another respect one another. So we can say that all such polemics come from a lack of love, that is to say, a lack of Christ, Who is Love. And this we can see from the moralism in right-wing ideologies and the amoralism and immoralism in left-wing ideologies. Both moralism and a-im-moralism are sure signs of a lack of spirituality. Just as the pharisees replaced spirituality with censorious and judgemental moralism, so do right-wing politicos. As for the left-wing – anything goes, as we can see in such secularised Protestant groupings as Anglicanism. Do anything you want, as there is nothing spiritual in the secular.

3) The Ideology of Mammon

The Western world is controlled by money and finance. That is why its ideology is called Capitalism, the ideology of oligarchs who rule the Western world. Finance controls politics (you cannot get elected without the backing of rich oligarchs), the media (which produces oligarchs (‘media tycoons’) and have huge sums of money) and increasingly also the Church. Very sadly, for more and more bishops especially, the Church is now a Business, a way of making money. Beware, it was much less so in the past and where it was so in the past, it all went wrong and collapsed, like the Russian Church in 1917. Beware of gold and jewels.

All this goes against the Gospel: ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth’. ‘You cannot serve God and Mammon’. What could be clearer? ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God’. The Apostle Paul: ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’. And yet we had one bishop from the Russian Church here whose obsession was money and who continually shouted at his self-sacrificing priests that they had too much money, that he did not have enough and that they must give him more and then slandered them, accusing them of stealing money! He was obsessed. Of course, he finished badly. Very badly. And very lonely.

Whom do we venerate above all? St John the Baptist? The Mother of God? St John the Theologian? St Antony the Great? St Nicholas of Myra? St Mary of Egypt? St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne? St Paraskeva of the Balkans? St Andrew the Fool for Christ? St Xenia of Saint Petersburg? St Seraphim of Sarov? St Nectarios of Aegina? St Matrona of Moscow? St Nicholas of Zhicha? St John of Shanghai? St Paisios the Athonite? Name one of them who was rich. Name one of them who was not humble.


Above we have listed the three ideologies, or isms, which destroy and are destroying the Church. For as long as many clergy and people are devoted to Nationalism, Political ‘isms’ and Mammonism, there will be no Local Churches in Western countries, which are the destinations of Orthodox immigration. How can these isms be countered? Only by their opposites:

The opposite of nationalism is not some cosmopolitan anti-nationalism, but being all-national, for Christ is above all nations, but also accepts them all. He is both transcendent and immanent.

The opposite of political isms, party politics and so partial politics is not some empty, pretend apoliticism, but being tolerantly all-political, accepting all, whatever their views.

The opposite of Mammonism is not some disincarnate dreaminess and intellectual disengagement from reality, but the practical foundation of churches without self-interest, the incarnation of the Church of God, as the tentmaker Apostle Paul and all the other apostles showed us.



Double Suicide in Lithuania


For those of us who were brought up in faithfulness to the values of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, the politicised captivity of any Local Orthodox Church is lamentable. Moreover, the shameful weaponisation of the canons for political, monetary or proprietary reasons not only betrays the witness of those Martyrs and Confessors, who had no love of power, money or property, but also plainly discredits those who undertake that weaponisation. We render to God what is God’s and to Caesar only what is Caesar’s.

The New Martyrs and Confessors are those Russians who were fearless and did not agree to become serfs, or obediently line up to go to Bolshevik concentration camps, or see their churches closed by today’s renegade foreign bishops, just like they now do in the Ukraine and in England, they offered resistance to Antichrist. Indeed, Canon XV of the First and Second Council, held in the year 861 under St Photius and 317 other Fathers, is quite clear that those who ‘have been diligent to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions’….’shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians’. The world loves its own, but God loves His own.

Introduction: Lithuania is Now in the Diaspora

The news that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is setting up an Exarchate in Lithuania under Lithuanian (in other words, US) government sponsorship ( elicits sorrow in Moscow. This means that after Estonia nearly thirty years ago, then after the Ukraine nearly five years ago, and after Africa two years ago (1), Lithuania has now become yet another multi-jurisdictional Orthodox area region Moscow has lost its jurisdictional monopoly there too. However, Lithuania only joins the whole of Western Europe west of Poland, the Czech Lands, Romania and Slovenia, not to mention the Americas, Australia and Africa too, in becoming multi-jurisdictional.

Sadly then, there is nothing new in this. The real question is why Lithuania, or all the Baltic countries together, like many other countries, regions or continents, cannot simply belong to one administratively united Local Church. This would be the only canonical alternative (the principle of one bishop per city) to belonging to different jurisdictions, all moreover dependent on the ebb and flow of the political tides of foreign capitals and foreign politics. In none of this multiplicity of jurisdictions is there any intention to do missionary work, there are only vulgar and petty disputes about nationalistic power, and already existing income and property. As this is not how Christians behave, our only conclusion can only be that those who take part in it are not Christians. Can we imagine the apostles disputing in this way like children in the playground about jurisdiction over the Orthodox in Rome or Corinth or Ephesus or anywhere else? ‘This is my church, not yours’. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is’. Childishness among adults.


In Lithuania the appeal by Constantinople to Ukrainian and even Belarussian ‘refugees’ to join their new Church is clearly a political manipulation by the local US ambassador, in obedience to his employers in the US State Department. It is very likely that, as in Estonia and in the Ukraine, very few in Lithuania (where there are fewer than 100,000 nominal Orthodox anyway) will leave Moscow for Constantinople. What premises could the new jurisdiction use? Or will the Lithuanian State set about ejecting Orthodox from their churches by violence in order to establish a property portfolio of empty church buildings, as the US-backed Kiev regime does in the Ukraine? That is, few, apart from the original five priests who have left Moscow for Constantinople and were then defrocked by Moscow for purely political reasons, as Constantinople has recognised (2). It is Moscow’s suicidal tragedy which created this second suicidal tragedy on the part of Constantinople. Moscow must now be regretting its original injustice. As the proverb says, you reap what you sow. However, what will happen to all these Constantinople creations in Lithuania, the Ukraine and Estonia after the Russian military victory in the Ukraine?

Indeed, what will happen to the Ukraine, the Baltic States and indeed all of strike-bound and riot-torn Europe, Eastern and Western, including insurrectional France and its watch-loving President, after the US has to cut its losses in Europe, as it did in Kabul, and run away in order to face the war that it has been fomenting with China? Inevitably, once abandoned by its feudal US master, these countries like all the others in Europe will have to make up with Russia. However, the political and military victory of the Russian Federation will be no victory for the Moscow Patriarchate. People only go to church if it is not money-driven and if it is politically free, and that means neither to a careerist, money-driven and politically-subservient Moscow Patriarchate and its, nor to the clearly US-run Patriarchate of Constantinople. Through their politicking, both the largest (Moscow), and the most prestigious (Constantinople), Local Churches for now have disqualified themselves from spiritual leadership and the moral high ground of the Orthodox world. A double suicide. The result, after the conflict in the Ukraine is over, will surely be several new Local Churches, freed from the jurisdictions of either of the above. Notably, neither Constantinople nor Moscow with their Church structures in Lithuania ever mentions doing missionary work among Lithuanians! Only about stealing already existing flocks! What claim can either have to Lithuania?

Two Questions

Two questions arise. Firstly: Why is it that since 1900 – a long time ago now – no new, all-encompassing Local Church has been set up in any of the countries and continents where there is an Orthodox Diaspora, in Western Europe, the Americas or Australia? Then, there is a second question: Just over fifty years ago, there was a valiant attempt to do something towards building a Local Church for Northern America (the USA and Canada) with the OCA, the Orthodox Church in America, but that was a failure. Why? After all, according to the latest survey, 77% of all Orthodox parish clergy in the USA support the creation of a Local Church, either autocephalous or autonomous.

Of course, that above survey is of parish clergy, not of the episcopate or of laypeople. However, we suspect that most laypeople think the same as parish clergy. Those of the old emigration, of 50-100 years ago, especially in Western Europe, always had the intention of returning to the countries from which they had been expelled, either by Communist oppression or else by Capitalist poverty. This is no longer the case. Today’s emigrants, parish clergy and people, are here to stay. They want a better future for themselves, for their children and their grandchildren. They are establishing Local Orthodox Churches, as never before. However, their episcopate is another story.

More Politics: The Episcopate

The problem here is that the episcopate, those who have power, is often very closely attached, either for political or monetary or for ideological reasons, to a Mother-Church in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. For example, the Patriarchate of Antioch clearly allows no Non-Arab bishops. But the situation in other jurisdictions in North America, apart from in the OCA, is very similar. Clearly, only some sort of rejection of foreign candidates by the people could change that situation. But then there is the problem of candidates. It is all very well to declare that there should be more American-born bishops, but are there any suitable American-born candidates? And they must be suitable candidates, because crazy convert sectarian candidates, who live in a fantasy world, only lead to the destruction of the Church, as all have seen. The same goes for Western Europe and Australia.

On the other hand, in the recent Antiochian scandal, it was revealed to naïve Americans that most Arab bishops are in fact married. Thus, what the former Metropolitan was doing was not so unusual in the old country. We have known this for decades. It is common knowledge in Europe. There are plenty of (unofficially) married Orthodox bishops of all nationalities, we will not tire readers with a list. The first case we came across was that of a Greek bishop over forty years ago (3). And Orthodox parish clergy much prefer dealing with such married bishops to dealing with repressed homosexuals, who pretend that they are not what they are. The latter can be sadistic on account of their jealousy of married clergy, who have everything that they have chosen not to have, in order to further their power-driven careers.

On Being Broad-Based

Now we come to the oner attempt to set up a Local Church, the question of the failure of the OCA, the Orthodox Church in America. Why has it not achieved unity in Northern America after over fifty years? It was after all set up as autocephalous. Here, those of us who met and knew the pragmatic Fr Alexander Schmemann, the main inspiration behind the OCA, and remember the events of the 1970s will recall how the newly autocephalous but very controversial OCA episcopate immediately tried to impose a new calendarist ideology on all. This was suicidal. Immediately, the they failed to recruit anyone who was faithful to the old calendar and lost many who wanted to continue in that faithfulness. Secondly, its equally aggressive policy of nationalistic Americanisation discouraged anyone who was not US-born and had an attachment to another culture from joining it or even staying with it. It led to many a rather harsh quip at the time about ‘the Coca-Cola Church’.

In other words, our suggestion is that a Local Church in any part of the Western world must not be narrow and intolerant, but broad-based, inclusive of all Orthodox, ignoring political and nationalistic ideologies, accepting all, whatever their ethnic origin, and accepting both the calendars that Orthodox use. It is notable that the least broad-based, least tolerant and so smallest jurisdictions in Northern America, are those who do not want to belong to a Local Church, as they have a suicidal policy of sectarian isolationism. Its error is the opposite of the OCA’s. The first went to the new calendarist extreme of ‘almost anything goes’ and ‘we’re as American as apple pie’. On the other hand, smaller groups go to the old calendarist extreme of ‘hardly anything goes’ and experiencing an attack of sectarian ‘One True Churchism’.

Conclusion: The Answers to Two Questions

Extraordinarily, although their practising flock numbers fewer than one million out of perhaps five million nominal Orthodox, there are now 55 Orthodox bishops in Northern America. This is far more than in all Local Churches, except for Moscow (419 bishops for a nominal 144 million), Constantinople (much over-bishoped with 128 bishops for a nominal three million), Greece (over-bishoped with 100 bishops for a nominal 10 million) and Romania (59 bishops for a nominal 19 million). It can be said that Northern America is over-bishoped. Something similar can be said about Western Europe.
If you are interested in prostitutes of Bishkek, you can find in bipopka.

Here there are probably about one million practising Orthodox out of about seven million nominal, but over 30 bishops. The above number of bishops is again greater than in many Local Churches. But there is still no Local Church. Indeed, the only Western European Metropolia which even has autonomy is the Romanian, though that does have most of the faithful in Western Europe. Why is there no all-encompassing, autocephalous Local Church anywhere? We repeat: Any Local Church in the Western world must be broad-based, inclusive of all Orthodox, ignoring political and nationalistic ideologies, accepting all, whatever their ethnic origin, and accepting both the calendars that Orthodox use.



  1. In 2021 Moscow received parishes in Africa into its jurisdiction as a result of the betrayal of Moscow by the Patriarchate of Alexandria (a US gun was being held in its back) on the issue of jurisdiction in the Ukraine. Since Moscow opened its Exarchate in Africa, the flock there has been divided between US-backed Greek Alexandria and Moscow. However, all this is against the background of the huge political, economic and military struggle between the US and Russia-China to dominate the African Continent. In other words, the whole affair is highly political.
  2. The canons are quite clear about defrocking. The cases in Lithuania have nothing to do with the personal morality of the priests defrocked, only about the twisting of the interpretation of the canons for purely political ends. In another case, a bishop uncanonically received several priests from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and yet objected when other Patriarchates received and canonically protected those whom he had unjustly treated. Like St Nectarios, who formed a Trust to protect the Convent he had founded, they also formed a Trust to protect the Church property they had founded and did not hand over the keys to those who wanted to destroy the parishes that had carefully been built up over the decades.

Those events certainly sounded like hypocrisy to all observers, including to onlooking bishops. The mass reception by Constantinople of bishops and priests in the Ukraine and the mass reception by Moscow of priests from Alexandria in Africa has done nothing to alleviate this impression of hypocrisy and once more undermines the authority of the episcopates concerned. It is clear that once this new Cold War is over, all these absurd decisions will be rescinded, just as those taken during the old Cold War were also rescinded by a mere stroke of the pen in the recent past.

  1. The open and well-known existence of married bishops sounds like one rule for the rulers and another rule for the ruled. In any case, once again it does nothing to give the bishops in question any authority or credit.



On the Birth of New Local Churches


Church life is at present in chaos because of the politicians of this world. But this is hardly the first time. We shall get through it. God can make light out of the present darkness, after the eclipse at Christ’s Crucifixion came the light of the Resurrection. The Russian Church and the Church of Constantinople in particular can come out of this present situation, renewed and purified. For if the Church is alive, new Local Churches will inevitably be founded outside the homelands of Orthodoxy. But what are the criteria for a Local Church? What pitfalls are there to avoid? Let us remind ourselves of the present significance of the four essential definitions of the Church of God, which remain just as essential for any Local Church as for the whole Church.


The Church is One. This means that any Local Church must be in communion with all others. If you are not in communion, then you are in some way not part of the Church, your Orthodox Faith is deficient. In order to know the limits of the Church, you simply have to ask others if they confess the One Orthodox Faith in the Creed. Either people confess it or they do not. The lack of the confession of the Creed, established for all time in the fourth century, is why the Roman Catholic/Protestant world, the first part of which was founded only in the eleventh century, was split off from the Orthodox Church and so has never been and will never be in communion with Her.

This is also to a lesser extent the tragic fate of old calendarists and other exclusivists like them, among whom there are some sincere and pious people, but who are not in communion with the rest of the Church. Many of them, most tragically of all, do not want to be in communion with others. Here we are not talking about people who do not want to be in communion with you personally or do not even recognise you because of their personal hatred, greed or jealousy. That is their problem. We are talking about deliberately cutting yourself off, being in isolation from the whole or even parts of the whole of the Church, which means that you have no long-term future and that you will eventually, in time, die out.

Being in communion with all others also means that you have to accept both calendars which are in use in the Church. You should not make the error of several in the OCA in the early days. Some showed aggressiveness towards those using the traditional calendar and even openly mocked them. Immediately they broke the unity of their own Church by being exclusive and so lost many to the OCA, which was supposed to become a Local Church, gathering all together. Instead of gathering together, they expelled. Fifty years later they are still paying the price for the foolishness of disunity caused by their contempt for others more traditional than themselves. But this works both ways. What has to be avoided is exclusivism, for it disunites.


The Church is Holy. This means that the spiritual, and not the material, power, money and property, must be the most important vector in the life of the Church on earth. For since the Church is One (see above), the source of that unity can only be in the Holy Spirit, away from any kind of human deviations. But what do the words ‘the Holy Spirit’, Who is invisible, mean? The Holy Spirit is revealed to us and made incarnate and visible for us in the acts of the Saints. There are those who call this Incarnation of the Holy Spirit, its visible manifestation in the life of human-beings and their creation, ‘spirituality’. This is too vague to be a Church term. The Church term is ‘Churchliness’.

Churchliness means the life of the Spirit in the saints of God, both old and new saints. The veneration of all the saints, of all ages and in all places (in every nation), not just of one or two saints (which can produce unhealthy cults) is the vital guarantee of Church life. Moreover, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in human life is the authority of the Church. Thus, there have been periods in Church life when the voice of just one saint has carried the Church. We can think of St Athanasius the Great and St Basil the Great in their time, later St Leo the Great, St Maximus the Confessor, St Symeon the New Theologian and St Gregory Palamas.

However, more recently, only in the last century, there were St Nectarius of Pentapolis, St John of Shanghai, St Justin of Chelije and St Paisius the Athonite. They have been saints and are saints, despite all the voices of so-called ‘Church people’ who rejected them and persecuted them. Thus, the authority of the Russian Church in its older saints has been confirmed in Her New Martyrs and New Confessors. Much the same can be said about all the Local Churches which suffered persecution in the last century and produced New Martyrs and New Confessors.


The Church is Catholic. This does not mean that the Church is some centralised institution like Roman Catholicism. It means that the Church remains essentially, in Her spiritual ethos, the same in all places and at all times, but in other respects, in language and customs, She may be hugely varied. This means that we do not accept innovations which contradict the ever new Tradition, but we accept the renewing inspirations of the Holy Spirit which revive and make sense of our lives through the actions of the Holy Spirit for our own time.

‘Catholic’ also means that the Church is multinational – the Church is for all. The Church does not have national ideologies, whatever some individuals may declare. Such racism (in Greek, phyletism) with its flag-waving is not part of Church life, whatever some individuals may do and think. Ideologies are always divisive, but the Church is unitive, bringing together. This is what we pray for in the great litany: ‘For the peace of the whole world, the good estate of the holy Churches of God and the union of all Orthodox, let us pray to the Lord’.

We do not encourage or participate in offensive wars against other races or their languages and we do not mock others or feel superior to them. (Though we may defend others from aggressors). Christ calls all to come together in unity in diversity. He accepts us as we are, only moving us to live without sin, we must accept each other as we are, before we can improve ourselves. We do not want dictatorial, oppressive and centralised organisation, as the heterodox and political- and secular-minded Orthodox want, because we should be united in and by the Faith. That should suffice. Our unity is not necessarily outward, but it is inward, real and spiritual.


The Church is Apostolic. This means that the Church refers back to the Apostles and apostolic life, the life of the missionary. Apostolic also means apolitical, as the apostles were not bound to some State and worked both inside and outside the Roman Empire. This was the case in the first century, but also in the last century, for instance, in the case of St Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to-the-Apostles, who during the Japanese war against Russia in 1904-1905 simply shut himself away and was in no way anti-Japanese. He kept out of politics. The Church is not to be aligned with some political ideology, whether left-wing or right-wing, least of all with the ideology of some foreign State.

This was the principle of the Russian emigration, where temporary Church independence was declared during the Soviet period, when the authorities of the Church inside Russia were scandalously forced to demand political subservience to the atheist State from those who lived in freedom outside it. Part of the emigration declared that it was self-governing and another smaller part took refuge under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the same way today, large parts of the Russian Church have been forced to declare independence (the Ukraine, Latvia), small parts have been forced to take refuge in other Local Churches (England, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy).

It is always shocking when State Churches go out and publicly tell their flocks which political party to vote for at elections. I have seen this in the Church of Greece. The 2020 elections in the USA were equally shocking, when the Greek Archbishop endorsed the Democrat Party, even having his photograph taken with the future President Biden. He literally told his people who to vote for. However, it is equally shocking when some right-wing ideology is endorsed by bishops of other Church groups. There are small, inward-looking parishes and dioceses which do not accept those who do not have the same political views as their totalitarian leaders. So the faithful are forced to leave them, simply because they desire faith and freedom.


The Church is and remains One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, whatever mere men may try and make Her into. The Church is all four of these together. For example, a group may be multinational, but if it is out of communion with the rest of the Church, or if it has renounced the Tradition, or if it has replaced holiness, with some political ideology, left or right, it is not of the Church. There are those of us in all jurisdictions, without exception, who are trying to build a Local Church. Why have we not succeeded yet? Simply because there has not been enough Oneness, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity and instead there has been disunity, rejection of the saints, national or political ideology and politics. Today is such a time. But we shall win in the end and those who only care for power, money and property shall be vanquished, for the Spirit is not with them, and new Local Churches will be born despite them.


December 2018-December 2022: On Becoming a Local Church

After the Liturgy for the Feast of the Entrance into the Temple of the Mother of God on Sunday 4th December, Fr Andrew was interviewed informally about the present situation of the Orthodox Church. Below is the slightly edited interview.


Q: What would you say about the events in the Orthodox Churches over the last four years?

A: The present very tragic situation of the Local Orthodox Churches is such that I almost feel nostalgic for the first third of my Orthodox life, before 1989, during the Cold War. In those days there were two groups of Local Churches: those in front of the Berlin Wall and those behind the Berlin Wall. All was clear. You knew exactly why some spoke in one way (because they had a Communist gun in their backs) and why others spoke in another way (because they had an anti-Communist gun in their backs). The first were involuntary hostages, the second were voluntary hostages.

I did not think I would live to see the present chaos, which has accumulated as a result of the errors over the last thirty-three years. First of all, precisely in December 2018, exactly four years ago, the Church of Constantinople, backed by the USA, for purely political and financial reasons started a major schism with the Russian Church in the Ukraine (it had already started a minor one in Estonia, back, I think, in 1994). This 2018 event was the foundation of the OCU, or ‘Poroshenko’s Orthodox Church’ (PCU), as it is called in Ukrainian. Result? The Russian Church refused to concelebrate or have anything to do with the Church of Constantinople and all those who supported it, for example, the Church of Alexandria. In so doing, however, it locked itself into isolation.

Then, in 2019, the small New-York-based Diaspora part of the Russian Church began taking numerous clergy and churches from Constantinople. This caused even more division and controversy. Then, exactly two years ago, in December 2020, the same fraction started a schism with the other Diaspora part of the same Russian Church, which is based in Paris. So there developed a still unresolved schism inside the Russian Church itself! A Church in schism with itself. What have we come to? Then, a year later, in December 2021, the Russian Church formed a schism in Africa, taking nearly 200 clergy and parishes from the Patriarchate of Alexandria, nearly half of its total number of missions there.

As if that was not enough, on 24 February 2022 the Russian Federation invaded the Ukraine and most of the hierarchy of the Russian Church backed the action. From this highly divisive moment on, the once multinational Russian Church started splitting into different Churches, the Russian, the Ukrainian, the Latvian, and perhaps tomorrow the Estonian, the Moldovan and the Lithuanian (where the situation is already dire after the uncanonical defrockings of clergy for merely expressing a different political viewpoint from the Russian Patriarch).

As a result, the Russian Orthodox parishes in Western Europe are cruelly affected, for a majority of their clergy and people are not Russians from Russia, but Baltic Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans etc. So people have left those parishes, many of which are now undermined. Therefore new parishes of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (not the tiny and uncanonical OCU) have been opened for the (so far) four million Ukrainian refugees in Western Europe. The situation is catastrophically divisive.

Oh, for the good old days of the Cold War! It was all so simple then.

The whole situation is in an out of control spiral. Where will it end? What has happened over the last four years – most of the events taking place every December – is that the century-old uncanonical chaos of the Diaspora, with its multiple jurisdictions, has been spread to Estonia, the Ukraine and Africa and may very well spread elsewhere. For example, it now looks as though Cyprus is going to be affected in the same way, with two jurisdictions developing there too.

This is all due to a problem of lack of authority in the Church, caused by those who are more interested in politics than in Christ. And here authority is very different from bullying authoritarianism. Authority comes from the Holy Spirit, whereas authoritarianism comes from a perverted human spirit.

Little wonder that the Vatican is looking on and saying: ‘What do you expect, look at the chaos of the Orthodox Churches, always at each others’ throats, because they do not have the Pope in control and guaranteeing unity’. Of course, that is nonsense. Anyone who knows anything about the schismatic situations within the Roman Catholic Church knows it to be nonsense. Nevertheless, there is a problem and that problem can only be solved by the highest organ of authority in the Church, a real Orthodox Council, free of politics. Sadly, at the present time the chances of that are probably as small as they were fifty years ago. We have not moved forwards at all. However, miracles do happen.

Q: What do you think will happen in the Ukraine?

A: The arms and army of Russia will win against the very weak and now even weaker NATO in the very risky war that the US began there in 2014. For there has never been a war between Russia and the Ukraine. The latter is just a location for the NATO battles. The war has always been purely between Russia and NATO. The Ukrainians and the huge number of mainly Polish mercenaries there have only been pawns and cannon fodder for the USA, just like the now increasingly arm-less NATO. The new cemetery for them in Poland has 1,200 dead so far.

However, the coming Russian victory in the face of the lack of real support for Kiev on the part of the now bankrupt West, does not solve the pastoral problem. You can conquer a country, but you cannot force its people to attend your churches. There will have to be an Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, without mention of a Russian Patriarch. The only very unlikely chance of unity would be if there were to be a Ukrainian Patriarch of the whole Russian Church and the ‘Moscow’ title was dropped from it altogether. Then the once multinational Russian Church might be restored.

Q: But surely this is just another Cold War situation, with the Church divided as before into two, East and West?

A: Not at all. It is far more complex than that. There are now three groups of Local Orthodox Churches. There is the Russian Church all by itself in the first ‘group’ and the US-backed Constantinople/Alexandrian Churches in the second group. Those two groups are at daggers drawn. Then, there is the third group, the thirteen other Local Churches. The thirteen others are the only ones that are in communion with everyone, Greek and Russian alike, but still independent of both of them.

True, the Cypriot and Greek Churches may well be forced by political pressure from the local US ambassadors to join the Constantinople/Alexandria group. This would leave only eleven in the third group, independent of both Russian and American politics. However, it seems as if more new Local Churches will also be founded and increase the number of those eleven. Certainly, Autocephalous Ukrainian and Latvian Churches would join that group and any others that might come into existence, for example, perhaps in Moldova. Quite simply, nobody wants to be too close to the Russian or Constantinople Churches at the present time, but all want to remain distant from them and any schismatic actions.

Q: So there is great disunity in the Church?

A: Tragically, yes. For instance, if I think about the Russian-French parish where I used to serve in Meudon, a suburb of Paris, I can clearly see this disunity. In Meudon there used to be only one church, the one where I served. It united everyone locally. Now there are three small parishes in the same small suburb and none of them is in communion with each other! There is the one where I served, which sadly has become very closed, almost club-like and very much Russian only, excluding Non-Russians and even Russians who do not have a certain spirit. Secondly, there is a very modernist Greek parish, which mainly uses French, and finally there is an old calendarist Greek parish, which also mainly uses French. It is so sad to see this quite unnecessary disunity. This is not a local church, but three anti-local churches.

Q: How do you see your own situation in Colchester?

A: In Colchester we defended the church against the evil one. Let me explain.

I remember in 1976 the Belarussian priest in Cambridge, a dear friend, Fr John Piekarsky (Eternal Memory to him), telling us how in the late 60s all the people in his home village in Belarus near Dokshitsy, gathered together and stood around their village church which the atheists, instructed by the crazy Ukrainian Khrushchov, wanted to destroy. An armed militia faced them. The people made it clear that the soldiers would have to gun everyone of them down in order to close their church. The militia backed off and the church was saved.

We also have a Ukrainian parishioner, whose grandmother, Galina, also in the 60s, just lay down in front of the bulldozer which the atheists were going to use to destroy the village church. She made it clear they would have to murder her, the most respected person in the village, to close the church. The atheists backed off and the church still stands today.

Well, we did the same, using English Trust law as our defence. We too had to defend our church from those who wanted to take it away from us, demanded the keys (which we refused to hand over), persecuted and slandered us (only the weak in faith believed such nonsense), and then wanted to close it, just as the atheist nationalists of the OCU do in the Ukraine. We won with the support of many.

Now is the time to confess the faith, there is no need for martyrdom, that is not yet required. But we have to confess the faith against aggressive bullies, those with hatred and not love in their souls, whether Communist or Capitalist. They will have to kill us to steal our churches. We made that clear to them despite, and because of, their aggressiveness and they backed down and lost everything. That was visible to all.

Q: What sort of churches do you have in your group, which since last February has been inside the Romanian Church?

A: I suppose we are rather like Moldovan churches, not just in the sense that we all have Moldovans, but in the sense that we are Russian and Romanian. However, we are also more than that in Colchester, as we have 25 nationalities and our other churches, in Coventry, Little Abington just outside Cambridge, Wisbech, Bradford and Felixstowe, are all still multinational.

Q: Do you have any Greeks among your parishioners?

A: We have very few Greeks, only four in fact, for the simple reason that there are hardly any practising Greeks in any of those places.

Q: How would you characterise the Colchester parish?

A: As you know, our patron saint is in effect a Ukrainian from Poltava who lived all over the world and was multinational in his outlook, St John of Shanghai and Western Europe. He also accepted the Western rite, which at that time, over sixty years ago, was still a reality.

Now, all my life I have worked and prayed that we might be able to build a Local Church. Be careful what you pray for, because you might get it! Well, towards the end of my life, we have managed to avoid all ghettos, both ethnic and ideological, and have been given what we prayed for, a local church.

In the home countries of Orthodoxy, inevitably churches will be mononational. That is normal. In capital cities like London, Paris and Berlin, centres of immigration, you will also have embassy churches, that is, mononational churches. That is not the case here outside London. Here we have to go with the flow, to go with the majority. God sends you a flock of all nationalities, who knock at your door. You behave as the Good Samaritan, not like the priest who walked by on the other side. You have to accept them all, with all their diversity, but it is logical to be with the majority, providing that their hierarchy behaves canonically, and not schismatically.

Q: Isn’t it difficult to have different nationalities together?

A: It can be, but it does not need to be. Nationalists and racists do not come to us (but nationalists and racists tend not to be Christians and, if nominally Orthodox, do not set foot in church anyway), but those with a little tolerance do come. And they learn to accept each other, with the result that you end up with mixed marriages, mixed in the positive sense of inter-Orthodox. For instance, our second priest who is Romanian is married to a Latvian and that is only the tip of the iceberg. We have couples who are Scottish-Cypriot (yes, he did get married in his kilt), Estonian-Nigerian, Moldovan-Guinea-Bissau (that must be unique!), Romanian-Slovak, Ukrainian-South-African, Lithuanian-Serbian, as well as the really rather ordinary English-Russian.

Sad to say, I have seen very many Orthodox parishes all over Europe closing in my lifetime. Why? Because their flocks died out. The original immigrant-parents, the first generation, died and as their children were assimilated and gave up attending a church which to them was foreign, the parishes died out. We must not do the same here. We have hordes of children at our church, between 50 and 100 at every liturgy. I am told that this is more children than in any other church in this country. They are our future. We must not lose them to narrow, bigoted, right-wing ideologies, relating to the past or to the present, or lose them to attempts by exclusivists to grab our properties, as they are the properties which belong to all the local Orthodox of all nationalities, or to some ethnic narrowness, which refuses to preach Christ in the local language.

In the last three months we have chrismated two English people (former Protestants) and baptised another one (who had not previously been baptised) into the Church. May this continue. So, despite the great changes and the chaos caused by politics over the last four years, we continue. We continue despite them all and despite their opposition.