Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese
of the British Isles and  Ireland

"the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

[Acts 11:26] 

iNCORPORATING ...

Antiochian Orthodox Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland
Registered Charity No. 1057533

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After the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch on 15th October 2013 the communities on this site all belong to the Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland.  The existing charity will serve them until a new charity for the Archdiocese can be set up, ie., after the first Metropolitan Archbishop is elected and enthroned. COMMUNIQUE TEXT.

Fr. Philip

After a recent meeting with the Cathedral Council it was agreed unanimously (as in the Deanery) that Fr. Philip Hall should be our candidate for the first Metropolitan of this Archdiocese, and to be presented as such to the Holy Synod of Antioch in due course. Please pray for him, for us and, of course, for the Holy Synod when it next meets, (probably in June 2014). This historic action in unity of the Deanery and the Cathedral community in London is a cause of great rejoicing for the Antiochian Orthodox communities in the British Isles and Ireland. Now begins the important task of making Fr. Philip better known to those who will bear the important responsibility of making this decision, hopefully next year in June.  We have received supportive references from His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (English)  (Arabic) and Mother Photina of the Pokrov Skete, (metochion to Valaam), Saint Mars de Locquenay, France (English)  (Arabic).

Arabic Fr. Philip


2014 ARCHDIOCESAN CONFERENCE

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All Saints of Great Britain and Ireland

Orthodox West First Christians The Celts The Saxons

The Orthodox West - a Story of Decline and Hope

by Fr. Gregory Hallam

Christ of the Isles

On a recent trip to Wales, I was, on occasion overcome with a profound sadness. Where was God now in this fair land of green clad hills and ancient springs? I suppose I meant, where was God in the culture? - for He was everywhere to be seen in the landscape. In human terms though there was a curious vacancy, a sense of a time long forgotten, or as Peter Berger once said “a rumour of angels” - now barely heard. There were of course churches and chapels a-plenty to be seen, but they seemed to be caught in a time warp and others were ruinous and effectively abandoned.

The churches in rural mid-Wales are pretty, compact, well maintained on the whole. They seem nonetheless to suffer from a certain cultural disconnection, except that is when hosting concerts for the tourists in tourist areas!  Does God still matter though to the Welsh? The chapels have fared even worse. Village after village after village embarrasses itself with the crumbling facades of the long gone 19th century Welsh revival. It is as if the dragon had roared but the fiery embers were always destined to grow old, cold and forgotten. But why? Why could not the fire of Christ ignite Welsh culture beyond the immediate generation of those original (largely) Methodist apostles? Why is Wales now seemingly so neglectful of the faith of David, Non, Seiriol, Illtyd, Dyfrig, Gildas, Dwynwen, Melangell, Gwenfrewy, Winefride, Beuno, Asaph and countless others?

The same questions could and should be raised for England, Scotland and perhaps to a lesser extent Ireland, north and south. Why have the landmarks of sanctity in the lives of the Christian heroes of these lands been erased from the public mind, confined to the private realm of the dwindling faithful and the secular archives of the historian? Why has Christianity become disconnected from the culture and replaced by a secular mind more entertained by New Age fripperies and the gods of hedonism and individualism? As the Anglo-Catholic priest Fr. Eric Mascall once penned as a title to a book:- “Whatever happened to the Christian mind?”

The trouble is that the Orthodox know the answer but few seem to understand the question. We say, of course, that Britain has both forgotten the treasure (our Orthodox faith) and where she has buried it (in the distortions of Rome and Geneva). The incomprehension of the post-Orthodox Christian in the face of this answer is understandable for too many years have passed since the burying and the earthworks have now all but gone. The preachers of the Welsh Revival and all the other revivals of British Non-Conformity faced the problem of Christianity’s decline during the Industrial Revolution but they did not do their homework; they failed to look for the buried treasure but instead mistook fool’s gold for the real thing. They can’t be blamed for this. They were children of their time in revolt from a contaminated spiritual source, but sometimes in their confusion mistaking elements of its corruption for purity, its artifice for authenticity. The writing was on the wall no sooner than the wall had been built.

There are some Orthodox who say that British (or if you like, English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish) Orthodox Christianity is dead and buried and incapable of being revived. These claim that only through a fresh infusion of Orthodoxy with a very clear “country of origin” sticker affixed will the real thing be recognised once more. I beg to disagree ... and most profoundly! It is no solution at all to point a lost soul to a foreign country just because he has got lost in his own. We need to need to repaint the signs; not have them repositioned in a new direction.

St. Arsenios of Paros, a Greek saint of the 19th century knew this full well. He said presciently ...

“When the Church in the British Isles begins to venerate her own Saints then the Church will grow.”
         St. Arsenios of Paros (+1877)

This is the remedy for the amnesia of the British. Let them see their own saints again ... not just in the churches (that they may never frequent) but in the countryside, in the cities, in the towns. We need to reconnect Christ and Culture in the Orthodox way. We need to roll back of the desert of secularism by touching the heart, by restoring the memory, by energising the will. We need to get out there and make Christ visible again.