Thursday, January 2, 2014

Orthodoxy in Harrow and the AECA

In the latest issue of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association’s journal, Koinonia – New Series No. 61, All Saintstide 2013, we find a number of interesting articles and news. An interesting contribution to this issue is given by Fr. Anastasios Salapatas who points out the relations between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism by using his parish as a case study. The article is as follows (p. 33-36):

Orthodoxy in Harrow and the AECA
Anastasios D. Salapatas
“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven”
Gen. 28, 17

By the Grace of God and the prayers of our Patron Saints, Panteleimon & Paraskevi, with the blessing of His Eminence our Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira & Great Britain and with the very hard and dedicated work of the leaders and member of our Community, as well as with the generous contributions of all our donors and benefactors, we managed to build in Harrow, from scratch, a magnificent place of worship in Byzantine style. The construction had taken place between August 2009 and March 2011. In November 2012 it was blessed and consecrated and was offered to our faithful for worship, for the ultimate goal of the Glorification of our Holy God and for the deification of His people. 

Our community was founded in 1975. It used three different Church buildings until this dream was eventually realised. The last of the three buildings, the ex-Anglican Holy Spirit Mission Church, which was purchased by our Community in 1994, had to be sacrificed.  
His Beatitude Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia had recently said – at a consecration of a Church – that “today we build Churches not because we are rich. Our people had never constructed places of worship from their abundance. Our Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow was built during the 1990’s, when our people were suffering of many problems”. And he concluded by saying that, “because of the construction of new Churches it is possible to solve our financial problems, which stand as huge obstacles in the middle of our modern way of life”.
We in our Community here in Harrow, strongly believe that the words of His Beatitude are truthful and of great spiritual value to us as well. 

The General Secretary of the AECA, the Rev’d Dr William Taylor, as well as other members of the Association, was present and participated at the historic event of the Consecration of our Church. Fr. Taylor was representing the Bishop of London at that ceremony and conveyed his much appreciated written message to us. The message reads as follows:
“Dear Friends,
On the occasion of the consecration of the new church dedicated to Saints Panteleimon and Paraskevi, I send my congratulations and the assurance of my prayers to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thayteira, Fr Anastasios Salapatas and the Parish in Harrow.
Yours is a truly significant achievement in Building the first new Byzantine Church in the United Kingdom since that built in Cardiff in 1906. I know that it represent years of planning, hard work and sacrificial giving on the part of many. The new Church will be an important addition to the witness of the Christian Gospel in London.
The dedications to Saints Panteleimon and Paraskevi is a significant one. The fourth century martyr and physician Panteleimon will be a constant reminder of the costly witness to the medicine of the Gospel to bring healing and wholeness to our own society. The virgin martyr Paraskevi , with her attribution to Christ’s crucifixion on a Friday, further reminds all Christians of the need to bear witness to Christ’s passion, death and resurrection whatever the cost. Both of them lived in times of pressures on the Christian Church not very different from our own.
I welcome this important new visible reminder of the vitality of the Gospel in our own city and in our own day – one which will outlive all of us. I pray that the Greek Orthodox community in London will go from strength to strength as our partners in the Gospel, and send you the assurance of my prayers and blessing at this auspicious time.
With thank for our partnership in the Gospel.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartes KCVO DD FSA”

The AECA has also kindly supported generously the fundraising of our new Church by means of offering £1000 towards our BUY A BRICK APPEAL! The Church & Community Council are all very grateful to the AECA. We pray for good progress in all the AECA endeavours and for every blessing in the lives of its members.
That was a very successful appeal which was supported by a wide range of people and organisation from within as well as outside our Community. All donors have a brick, with their name engraved on it, placed on the outside wall of the sanctuary apse, in commemoration of their kind gesture and valuable contribution.
Our Community extends a very warm welcome to all its members and friends and wishes that the prayers and the blessing of our Patron Saints accompany all of us throughout our lives!”

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