Welcome to the official web site of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the British Isles. We are pleased to welcome you, and to invite you to share in the rich heritage of Orthodox Christianity in these islands. We are a small but active Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, under the Hierarchical care of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and His Grace Bishop Irenei of Sacramento, the Administrator of our Diocese. Our mission is to share the rich treasures of Orthodox Christianity to all peoples, embracing the Orthodox history of the British Isles and the intercessions of our host of local Saints in order to draw peoples of every nationality, tongue, age and race into the life of the Gospel that has been proclaimed in our Church for more than 2,000 years.
A Brief History
There has been a Russian Orthodox Church in London for some 300 years. After the Russian Revolution, the Imperial Embassy Chapel was closed and a new home was sought for the longstanding parish. Our Diocese officially had its beginning in 1929, when Archmandrite Nicholas (Karpov) was consecrated as Bishop of London and took up residence in the United Kingdom. In 1932 Bishop Nicholas reposed in the Lord whilst attending a Synod meeting of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which was at that time headquartered in the Kingdom of Serbia. The next Bishop to reside in London and have oversight of the Diocesan parishes was the ever-memorable Archbishop Nikodim (Nagaieff), who served as head of the Diocese from 1954 until his death in 1976 at the age of 93. Initially, His Grace Nikodim was a Vicar Bishop under the ompohor of Archbishop John (Maximovich), who from 1953 to 1962 was Archbishop of Brussels and Western Europe (glorified in 1994 as Saint John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco). Following the response of Archbishop Nikodim, Bishop Constantine (Jessensky) governed the Diocese until his retirement in 1986. In that same year, Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany was appointed as Ruling Hierarch of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland. Since Vladyka Mark’s retirement from that role in December 2016, the Diocese has flourished under the omophor of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion; and since the Holy Sobor of Bishops of May 2017, it has been administered by His Grace Bishop Irenei of Sacramento.
Our Cathedral and Parishes
Having moved locations several times in the three centuries of the Russian Orthodox Church’s presence in London (usually surrounding historical considerations of property leasing in the centre of the Capital), our Diocesan Cathedral has been in its present location in 57 Harvard Road, Chiswick, West London, since 1990 (previously it had been located at Emperor’s Gate, London; for a more detailed history, see the excellent book, Embassy, Emigrants, and Englishmen by Fr Christopher Birchall, published by Holy Trinity Press, Jordanville, 2014). It is the only purpose-built Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Great Britain, constructed in the Pskov Style and containing two Altars. The upper Altar is dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God, and the lower to the Holy Royal Martyrs. A project of beautiful frescoing of the upper church has recently been completed, and the Cathedral will be consecrated with a liturgical ceremony on 21st September 2018.
Our Diocese has parishes in various parts of the British Isles, including Colchester, Norwich, Mettingham, Liverpool, Cardiff, Cheltenham, and smaller communities elsewhere. It operates Orthodox schools, a long-standing publishing house and college, and since 2017 has been publishing a new magazine, Searchlight, aimed at youth and young adults in the Church. We are actively growing, seeking always the establishment of new missions in other parts of the islands, the founding of monastic communities, and other blessed works.
Our parishes worship in Church Slavonic and English, with other languages used in communities where this is helpful (for example, we have a strong Romanian-language based community in Colchester). Our doors are open to all who seek to live the Orthodox faith in its fulness, whatever their nationality, background or language.
The Russian Orthodox Church as a Whole
The signing of the ‘Act of Canonical Communion’ in May 2007 brought together the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church that had been separated since the time of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. In 2017 we celebrated ten years since this God-provided restoration of full brotherly unity within our Church, and we are particularly grateful to God for a close fraternal and pastoral relationship with our sister diocese in Great Britain: the Patriarchal Diocese of Sourozh.
Our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is, within the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole, a self governing church with its own Synod of Bishops, headquartered in New York. Its First Hierarch is His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, and the ROCOR includes Dioceses in the USA, Canada, Central and South America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand — and of course our own Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland. In all our territories, the ROCOR bears witness to traditions inherited from Holy Russia’s pre-revolutionary history, with its own liturgical and pastoral customs that form an important, unique part of the vibrant witness of Russian Orthodox unity throughout the world. Its near-century-long history as a church in the diaspora means that we are wholly committed to the life of Orthodoxy that embraces the full cultures surrounding us in various parts of the world. The ROCOR has always had, and continues to have, a vibrant missionary spirit, and seeks both to support Russian Orthodox Christians outside Russia, and to spread the Gospel of Christ to the peoples of a wide range of countries, drawing all people into the Church of Christ, the Faith of the Apostles, and the Life of the Holy Fathers.
A More Personal Welcome
While we use this web site page to inform readers of news, useful on-line articles and readings, and other events in our Diocese and elsewhere in the Church, there is no better way to experience our Church life than, in the words of the Holy Scriptures, to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.
We warmly invite you to visit us in any of our parishes. Our Diocesan Facebook page is also used to keep followers up-to-date with current activities around the Diocese. All our Divine Services are open to any who wish to attend. We ask that, when you visit for the first time, you ensure that you introduce yourself to the resident Clergy so that you can be properly greeted and welcomed into our community.
Welcome the Diocese's recently revamped web site. We invite you to explore the variety of new content already in place, and ask your patience as we continue to transfer older archival items to the new system, as well as expand our materials with new information over the coming months.