Russian Orthodox Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland
The Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland (Russian: Великобританская и Ирландская епархия) is a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), with communities on the territories of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The episcopal seat of the diocese is in Richmond. However, since the departure of Bishop Constantine (Essensky) of Richmond in 1985 the diocese has not had a resident bishop. Since then, the diocese has been under the omophor of Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin, who is also bishop of the ROCOR German diocese, the overseer of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, and First Deputy to the President of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops.
The diocese currently comprises five parishes and one monastic house, with three other chapels and missions served by its clergy. The cathedral parish is the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Holy Royal Martyrs, in Chiswick, West London. There are currently nine priests and two deacons serving within the diocese, in addition to a small number of minor clergy.
The moves towards restoration of canonical relations between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate saw the departure in January 2007 of the monastic Brotherhood of St Edward in Brookwood, the Holy Annunciation Convent in Willesden, and the Mission of St Boniface on the Isle of Wight for the Greek Orthodox Synod in Resistance.
This left the diocese without a dean, a responsibility formerly exercised by Archimandrite Alexis (Pobjoy) of the St Edward Brotherhood. It also saw the diocese with no monastic presence for the first time in decades.
Since then, the remaining communities have sought to re-establish a stable presence.
At the request of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco made a pastoral visitation to the diocese in the wake of the recent schism, in order to alleviate some of the fears and concerns of the people. During this time, he ordained Reader Andrew Bond to the diaconate to serve the parish of St John the Wonderworker in Felixstowe.
In November 2008, the parish of St John, formerly based in rented premises in Felixstowe, began services in its newly purchased church in Colchester, which had been the old Garrison Church. The parish now serves the people of Colchester and surrounding areas, and draws people from as far as North London who would otherwise have difficulty getting to church. Abbot Sergius (Armstone) was received from the Milan Synod and ordained to assist at the parish in February 2009, thus restoring a monastic presence within the diocese. Fr Sergius resides at the monastic hermitage of the Holy Healer Pantaleimon.
Those who had belonged to the Felixstowe church but were unable to travel to Colchester, along with the people of the Waveney Valley area, have been provided for by the establishment of the new parish of the Mother of God: the Joy of All Who Sorrow in Mettingham, where regular services have been conducted since Pascha, 2009. The church was purpose-built, and was blessed by Archbishop Mark in July, 2009. In February, 2011, one of the readers at this parish was ordained to the priesthood to serve this church and its people.
Also in July 2009, the parish of St Elisabeth, which had been based for thirteen years in a private home in the northwest of England, began services in its new church, which had originally been a cemetery chapel and had been redundant for some years. While the parish does not own the building, it has a long-term lease on the chapel and has already begun to make links with the local community.
In 2011, Archbishop Mark celebrated his 25th anniversary as ruling bishop of the Great Britain and Ireland diocese, and special services were offered at the Dormition cathedral in London. Among the gifts given to Archbishop Mark were a specially-commissioned icon and a new mantle.
On the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, 2014, Archbishop Mark ordained a new reader and deacon to serve the Parish of St John the Wonderworker in Colchester.
A number of relics of the saints may be venerated in the various churches of the diocese. Among the more notable are:
- a relic of the Holy Wonderworker John of Shanghai and San Francisco (Colchester parish).
- relics of The Holy New-Martyrs Elisabeth and Barbara (Wallasey parish).
- Some items of clothing of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas (London cathedral parish).
There are a number of other relics in London and Colchester which have been acquired over the years.
Relations with other local Orthodox churches
Since the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in May 2007, there have been good relations, frequent concelebrations, and joint services among the communities of the Diocese of Great Britain, its sister Diocese of Sourozh, and the two stavropegial parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland, with bishops serving in the parishes of each other's dioceses.
In addition, Archbishop Mark regularly participates in the meetings of the local pan-Orthodox assembly of bishops with jurisdiction in the British Isles.
In the wake of the Russian Revolution and the resultant split that occurred within the Russian church, the London parish of the Dormition became divided and, in time, both parts of the community went on to establish the cathedrals of their respective dioceses. When normal relations were restored in 2007, this caused the irregular situation of there being two cathedrals within the same city, under the same church, having the same dedication. Not only did this cause confusion but it meant that the cathedrals' patronal feast, the Dormition of the Mother of God, was a time when the divisions of the past were highlighted, as the clergy and people were tied to their own parishes and unable to share in the festivities of their sister parish. Consequently, the ROCOR cathedral parish council, with the blessing of Archbishop Mark, took the decision in August 2009 to rename its cathedral in honour of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, retaining the secondary dedication to the Holy Royal Martyrs, in whose honour the lower church is named. This change will take effect when the cathedral is consecrated.
- London Vicariate of Western European Diocese
- Nicholas (Karpov) (30 June 1929 - 11 October 1932)
- Vitaly (Ustinov) (1947-1951) archimandrite, locum tenens
- Diocese of Richmond and Great Britain
- Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland
- Mark (Arndt) (since January 1986)
- According to the directory listing of bishops on the ROCOR website.
- The February 2007 edition of The Shepherd magazine.
- The Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland
- The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God and the holy Royal Martyrs
- The Parish of the Mother of God: The Joy of All who Sorrow
- The Parish of St John the Wonderworker
- The Parish of St Elisabeth the New-Martyr
- The Parish of St Colman of Oughaval