£55,000 Reached in Eight Weeks! Thank you!
In the East of England there is at present only one multinational and multilingual church faithful to Russian Orthodoxy with its own urban premises. This is St John’s Church in Colchester. God willing and with your support, we have now been able to buy a second one, in Norwich, exactly 60 miles, 100 kilometres, to the north of Colchester.
Why Norwich? For the last four years I have been visiting Norwich and some of the 200 Russian Orthodox there, mainly recent immigrants from the Baltic States, especially from Estonia. I have baptized several in their homes, married couples in Colchester, buried, blessed houses, listened to confessions, visiting every few weeks, sometimes twice a month and am Orthodox chaplain at Norwich prison.
We have thought of dedicating our community to St Alexander Nevsky. We attempted to begin liturgies using the Greek Orthodox church building in Norwich, but were impeded. How are our people and English people and others interested in the witness of the Russian Orthodox Church, to be cared for pastorally? Only from a church building.
Now we have found such a suitable building. At present offices, it is a single-storey building near the town centre, so with free parking, about 13 metres (40 feet) long by 7 metres (22 feet) wide. It has heating, lighting, a kitchen and toilet, all in good condition. Although small, it seems ideal as a basis for starting Russian Orthodox life in Norwich.
And such life is required not only by Russian speakers, but also by Romanian, Bulgarian and English Orthodox. Most of our regular parishioners, only one of whom has a car, live within easy walking distance of this building. With our low offer of £42,500 miraculously accepted, this building, we estimate, would cost a total of £55,000 to buy and convert.
On Wednesday 3 June we launched an internet appeal for £55,000 in order to set up our own church in Norwich. By Wednesday 29 July, eight weeks after the appeal launch, total gifts and pledges had reached £55,000. We are now waiting for legal documents to be exchanged. Once this has happened we can start building work to transform the building into an Orthodox church. At last a permanent home for Russian Orthodoxy in Norwich after over thirty years of struggles. Thank you!
All donations, when required, will be made to our charitable trust: East of England Orthodox Church (Registered Charity No 1081707). May God bless you for having considered the Russian Orthodox Community in Norwich in your almsgiving.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
15 September 2015
On Friday 8 May, Fr Andrew saw a leasehold property for sale on the rightmove website for £50,000 at 134, Oak Street, Norwich. It measures 88 square metres externally and is at present used as offices and rooms for a cultural centre. It has electricity, heating and water and is in very good condition. It is so cheap because it is leasehold, in other words, you have to pay £100 rent per month for the ground it is built on. This amount is fixed until 2032. The lease itself is even longer – it lasts until 2047.
On Wednesday 13 May we organized a visit to these premises, attended by 9 local Russian Orthodox.
By Friday 15 May, Orthodox in Norwich had generously promised to donate £5,250.
On Monday 18 May Fr Andrew received Archbishop Mark’s blessing to buy the building if possible, meaning we could start obtaining pledges to donate.
On Thursday 21 May we heard from the surveyor that it would cost £3,000-£5,000 to knock down the internal walls and make good the floor and ceiling, so we could use this building as a church. This was lower than Fr Andrew had estimated.
On Wednesday 27 May we heard that our offer of £42,500 had been accepted. However, since conversion and furnishing costs will come to £12,500, this meant that we would need £55,000 in all.
On Friday 29 May we submitted the planning application for change of use from offices to a place of worship. This, we were told then, would take at least 6-8 weeks but should result in a positive answer.
On Wednesday 3 June we launched a public internet appeal for the remaining funds, given that £5,250 had already been pledged.
On Wednesday 29 July, eight weeks after the appeal launch, total gifts and pledges had reached £55,000.
Finally, after over three and a half months!, on Tuesday 15 September we received planning permission to convert the building into an Orthodox church.
We are now waiting for legal documents to be exchanged, then we can start building work.
We are still hoping that we may be able to open in time for the feast of St Alexander Nevsky on 6 December.