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Orthodox Churches in London
Orthodox churches share a spiritual and cultural ethos and are united by common history and belief
Orthodox churches share the spiritual and cultural ethos which derives from the Byzantine Empire. Orthodoxy is a federation of churches united by common history and beliefs. God's grace is conveyed through the Bible, holy traditions, and icons.
To fully understand the Concept "Greek Orthodox" think about the word Greek, not as a country but more as a school of thought and to some extent the language which can be seen across the church. In this sense that the various bodies the Russian, the Romanian, the Syrian, the Serbian etc may be referred to as Greek with out them losing their national character and traditions, or their geographical and cultural identities.
The first organised Greek Orthodox Community, however, was established in London in the 1670s when a group of some 100 refugees, probably from Mani, led by a priest named Daniel Voulgaris, sought permission from the Church and State Authorities of England to create a Greek Orthodox religious centre in the heart of London. The permission was finally granted in 1677 to Archbishop Joseph Georgirines of Samos who had come to London to have one of his books published.
A church was eventually built in Soho fields, Soho, on a site offered by the then Bishop of London Henry Compton, and with money collected by Archbishop Joseph from various donors. This church, however, was confiscated without reason by the authorities in 1684 and handed over to the Huguenots to the dismay of the Greek Archbishop who vented to his anger over this flagrant injustice in a pamphlet, a copy of which is now in the British Library.
After this setback, the Imperial Russian Embassy offered its hospitality to the Greek community for its religious and communal activities in London until 1837, when they created their own Greek Orthodox Chapel in Finsbury Circus, in the City of London. In 1850, however, they built a new church of their own in London Street in the City, and in 1877 the magnificent Church of the Divine Wisdom (St. Sophia) in Moscow Road, Bayswater.
For a short period of time (1908-1922), the Oecumenical Patriarchate transferred its rights to the Church of Greece. This irregularity was finally settled when, in 1922, the Holy Synod of the Oecumenical Patriarchate, through the initiative of Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis, created the Diocese of Thyateira, named after the famous See of Thyateira in Asia Minor. London was chosen as its seat, with jurisdiction over Central and Western Europe, and the eminent theologian Germanos Strinopoulos (at that time Rector of the Chalki Theological Academy) was chosen as its first bishop (Metropolitan).
Germanos was succeeded after his death in 1951 by Archbishop Athenagoras Kavadas (1951-1962); after his death by Archbishop Athenagoras Kokkinakis (1963-1979) and after his death by Archbishop Methodios Fouyias (1979-1988), who was replaced in April 1988 by the present incumbent of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Gregorios Theocharous (who for the previous 18 years had been Bishop of Tropaeou, serving in North London).
last updated: 07/10/2008 at 12:11