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Orthodox Christian Contact Wales
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E-Mail occwales@yahoo.co.uk
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CONTACT WALES

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ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
CONTACT WALES

Father Luke Holden

occwales@yahoo.co.uk
Tel: 01554 755690

11 New Rd
Dafen
Llanelli
SA14 8LS
Wales
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Saturday 19th March 2016
Pan Orthodox Pilgrimage
To Lampeter And
Saint Cybi's Well.


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Orthodoxy In Wales
In the early years of the 20th Century the Greek
people of Cardiff established their own Orthodox
community, and built the Church of Saint
Nicholas.

The Greek sailors and people from the shipping
companies settled in Wales, married and had
children. Over the years they were joined by
other Orthodox people, particularly from Cyprus.
Many moved away from the docks of Cardiff as
they found better paid work. Gradually the
church community came to include
shopkeepers, hairdressers, doctors, lecturers
and people from every walk of Welsh life.

The community retained a very Greek identity,
which has always been reinforced by new
arrivals from the Greek world, as well as the
steady flow of priests from Greece and Cyprus.

The community thrives, and in recent years the
church has been decorated with beautiful new
frescoes, the hall and priestís house have been
renovated, and a Cypriot Centre has been built.
However, although there are now generations
of Orthodox people living in towns all round
Cardiff, the focus for their Orthodox faith and
worship has always remained the Greek Church
in Cardiff, with the Greek language, Greek music
and a Greek identity.

A very different Orthodox presence developed
through the work of Father Barnabas, a Welsh
man who became a priest monk (Archimandrite
to give him the Greek title) of the Orthodox
Church, establishing a tiny monastery in mid-
Wales, and travelling all over Wales to take
services for scattered Orthodox families.  While
he lived he presented Orthodoxy in English and
Welsh, using music based on the Russian
tradition. For many of us, Archimandrite
Barnabas was the founding father of Orthodoxy
in Wales. His work as a monastic founder has
not born fruit in an age when few people follow
the monastic calling. His work with ordinary lay
people has left seeds of Orthodoxy scattered
across the whole of Wales. These seeds are
still waiting to bear fruit.

A similar presentation of Orthodoxy has
developed with the work of Hegumen
(Archimandrite) Deiniol who has become a
central figure in Orthodoxy here, linking with
Christian bodies throughout Wales as well as
with the Welsh Assembly Government. His
monastic church and Orthodox mission centre
at Blaenau Ffestiniog is widely known.

Both Father Barnabas and Father Deiniol
eventually placed themselves under the
authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, but their
work has had a very independent, Welsh
flavour. They always looked outwards towards
the people of Wales.

The Orthodox presence in Wales has remained
largely linked to the Ecumenical Patriarch
through the Greek Archdiocese of Thyateira 
and Great Britain. In the 1990ís the Greek
Archbishop ordained me (Father Luke - a
married family man) to start a mission in
Swansea. Our community has been involved
with pilgrimages, and with the ecumenical
society of Saint David and Saint Nicholas based
in Cardiff.

I have close links with South Wales through my
motherís family, but have always tried to
present an Orthodox mission in a way that
includes Greeks, Welsh and English people and
Orthodox from many other nations.

This has proved very difficult, with passionate
and destructive linguistic divisions within the
community, and with little direction from the
Greek Archdiocese for outward looking mission. 

We have also had to move home a number of
times, and have always had to set up and take
down our liturgical fittings every Sunday. This
has always left a feeling of transient
impermanence.

The Church In Wales has been supportive and
friendly throughout this time. We have now
been offered a permanent home where we can
develop the community. Encouraged by this we
are renewing the mission drive. We are re-
establishing our music and services in a way
that should appeal to local people with a focus
on congregational singing. We have had recent
baptisms, and more people are waiting to be
received. We will be planning visits and
pilgrimages to early Christian sites in Wales, and
hope to expand the community website in order
to reach many more people.

Early in the 21st Century a native Welsh
speaker was ordained for work in the small
university town of Lampeter and for central
Wales. Father Timothy is another married
priest. At around the same date, the University
College, Lampeter opened a Department for
Orthodox Studies and appointed Orthodox staff.
Father Timothy is developing his community in
Lampeter using the English language only, with
a strong outreach to local people as well as
students.

A small Eucharistic Community has grown up
not far from Lampeter, centred on the home of
an Orthodox lady. This centre is not under the
authority of the Greek Archbishop of Thyateira
and Great Britain, and it serves Orthodox from a
Russian background, as well as local people who
are interested.

Orthodoxy has natural links to the early Celtic
Christianity of Wales, and to the early Christian
sites and Holy Wells here. We are intensely
aware of ecological issues, and of our
responsibility for the environment in a land
which has been scarred by mining and industry.
We should thrive in Wales. In spite of this, the
Orthodox Church in Wales remains a seed
waiting to sprout, something potential waiting
to be realised. Let us see what growth the next
100 years will bring.

Father Luke.
Great Lent, 2010.