DIOCESE OF GREAT BRITAIN: 23 February 2023
A new church dedicated to the All-Merciful Savior is consecrated in Great Britain
On 21 February, 2023, Tuesday of meatfare week, the new temple dedicated to the All-Merciful Saviour in St Leonards-on-Sea, near Hastings, England, was blessed and the first Divine Liturgy celebrated therein. Heading the Divine Services was the diocesan Bishop, His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, together with the priest appointed to the newly-blessed church, Fr Alexander Groves, and visiting clergy who came to St Leonards for the occasion: Archpriest Paul Elliott, Diocesan Chancellor; Archpriest Yaroslav Hudymenko and Deacon Andrei Borisas of the London Cathedral; and Archpriest Stephen Platt of the Diocese of Sourozh.
The small temple blessed on this day was recently built, with almost the entirety of its construction and decoration effected by members of the community and by the youth group of the Diocesan Cathedral in London, who over the past year have routinely travelled to St Leonards in order to take part in this sacred work. While small, the new church stands as a dedicated house of Orthodox worship in the region, and is the first liturgical home of the new community dedicated to the All-Merciful Saviour which has already for two years been gathering, with the Bishop’s blessing, for Reader’s services and other activities — and which has incorporated into its scope the missionary works also undertaken in Ashford and other parts of the surrounding area.
The rite of the lesser sanctification of a temple was served by the hierarch and clergy before the Divine Liturgy, with the new antimins and its relics of the holy martyrs placed upon the blessed Holy Table. Thereafter the hierarchical Liturgy was celebrate in a festal spirit, the service sung by the choir of the new parish, together with visiting singers from other parishes. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, a large Cross was blessed and affixed to the dome atop the temple.
Addressing the gathered clergy and faithful in the words of a brief homily, Vladyka Irenei congratulated all those who had laboured to construct the newly-blessed temple, and encouraged them in their life of Orthodoxy and mission to all the people of the territory. "One thing is certain’, said His Grace, ‘and it is that man does not need a “church” that conforms to his own desires and will, but rather the testimony of the true and only Church, which demands that man’s heart be conformed to something greater than himself: the Gospel, the very truth of Christ that the Church conveys in her words, her teachings and her Holy Mysteries. Therefore, as this new parish begins its worshipping life in this sacred temple, I urge you to uphold with all your heart the testimony of our sacred forebears in the faith: live Orthodoxy fully, changing nothing in the testimony we have received; provide the fulness of the Church’s life and teaching to all that shall come to pray here; do not wander from the path of the Saviour, and He will never wander from you, but will lead you, and them, into His eternal Kingdom."
Following the Divine Services, the clergy and faithful gathered in the house for a meal with the Bishop, during which for many hours their spiritual communion continued in the joyful spirit of the day. Before departing, Vladyka Irenei presented to the new parish a plachschinitsa (icon of the winding-sheet), as a gift to the new temple from the Kazan Icon parish in Cardiff.