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New Church for Chile

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Concepcion is Chile’s second-largest city with a population of 1.5 million. Among the Orthodox Christians living there are Russian emigres of the post-World War II period and their descendants, Russian and Ukrainian immigrants after the fall of the USSR, Palestinians, as well as Chilean converts.

Orthodox services have become a regular occurrence since March, 2006, in a building in the Arab section known as Estadio Arabe. They are conducted mostly in Spanish, some prayers are read in Church Slavonic and Arabic. Concepcion’s Protopriest Alexei Aedo Vilugron of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia conducts the services. The parish belongs to ROCOR’s South American Diocese under His Grace Bishop John of Caracas and South America.

Fr Alexei is Chilean by birth, having accepted Orthodox Christianity with his heart and soul. By his efforts and persistence, his focus and a great deal of labor, with reliance on God’s help, work on building the first-ever Orthodox Church in the south of Chile commenced in August 2011.

The consecration of the cornerstone and erection of a cross on the site of the future church was performed by Vladyka John on December 5, 2010, in the presence of representatives of the local authorities and of the Russian Embassy.

The Palestinian community of Concepcion donated the parcel of land for the church (costing approximately US $144,000 and measuring 758 sq. m.).

Donations by the parishioners covered all the expenses of the preliminary construction stages (planning and documentation). In July 2011, the community received aid from the Chilean government in the amount of 30M pesos (about $63,000). The funds covered closing the perimeter of the property, excavations, foundation (1.5 m deep and 1.1 m wide), and the metal framework for the walls. Concepcion is in within Chile’s earthquake zone: the last earthquake, which struck in February 2010, measured 8.8 on the Richter Scale. For this reason, construction standards here are stringent and costly. Construction has been temporarily halted due to a lack of funds. The second stage of construction will cost $135,000. We would be grateful for any help in building our church to the glory of God. Donations can be made by visiting

Source: ROCOR


Written by Stephen

February 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Chile, ROCOR, South America

ROCOR in Pakistan

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253431_480300635327915_1171068380_nA few years ago I blogged about the first Orthodox priest and parish in Pakistan, Fr. John Tanveer, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Now, ROCOR also has a parish there, started recently by Fr. Adrian Augustus.

The following is an interview with Fr. Adrian about his own conversion to Orthodoxy and his work in Pakistan. There is also an active Facebook page for the church here, and their website is here. (Incidentally, the EP church has their Facebook page here, and their website here.)

On September 18, 2012, the Missionary Department of Moscow Theological Academy hosted a meeting with Priest Adrian Augustus of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who is ministering to an Orthodox Christian parish he founded in Pakistan.

Path to Christ. Priesthood.

My conversion to Orthodoxy was not easy. Until my conversion in 2007, I was an Anglican deacon in India. When I began to seek Orthodoxy, I sent many letters with questions on the faith to the only person who would provide detailed answers, Vladyka Hilarion, who was then Archbishop of Sydney. I hail from a very poor family, my mother was a school teacher, and life proceeded in a strict Catholic spirit. When Vladyka suggested that I enroll in seminary in Jordanville, NY, my mother fell very ill, and I found myself in a difficult situation—going to America was practically impossible for me. Three months later, Vladyka Hilarion wrote that he could receive me in Australia. Vladyka and I then became like father and son. Everything I know about Orthodox Christianity I learned from him. I wished very much to become a priest, but did not ask Vladyka to ordain me, expecting that the Lord Himself would make it happen. When I was finally ordained, I did not wish to limit my ministry to a parish: I wished for our true faith to be accessible to everyone. Many people in Pakistan and in India would like to learn about Orthodoxy and become zealous Christians, but they have little opportunity to do this.

It is very difficult in Pakistan today because of the Muslim government, and it is unsafe for white people to live in the country, so missionaries don’t wish to go there. True, Pakistan is not a safe country by any means. One must note that this country is dangerous not only for white people and foreigners, but even for its own citizens: within the country, Muslims fight with other Muslims, Muslims kill other Muslims. Pakistan is divided into three big groups. In the north are Pashtuns from Afghanistan, the Punjabs live in the middle, the Sindhis live in the south, and within Sindhi itself is a small group of Indians, and these populations are all in conflict. A Pakistani simply does not know when he leaves his home in the morning whether he will return that night.

A Voice from Pakistan.

There were two people in Pakistan who left the Catholic seminary and, as did I some time ago, and e-mailed letters with questions about faith, seeking to find Orthodoxy. Vladyka Hilarion forwarded these letters to me, since I know the mindset of these people and could determine whether these were genuine believers or if they were sent by people who have no desire to find Christ. The population of Pakistan is very poor, and this could simply have been a scam. When I read these e-mails, though, my heart was moved. I didn’t think twice, and asking Vladyka’s blessing, headed for Pakistan.

When I arrived, I was very surprised: instead of the two people who wrote the e-mails, I was greeted by some fifty people. When I settled into my hotel room, I was not allowed to go outside. The problem was this: It is still dangerous for me to come to Pakistan, because I have lighter skin, being Indian. There were four wars between Pakistan and India, and when I arrived, I was viewed as a spy. But a local member of Parliament gave me permission to leave the hotel for twelve hours, deeming me a missionary and not a spy. The press reported that some priest arrived, and even more people came to see me, and, praying to the Holy Spirit, I began to preach. At first I tried to talk about the time before the Birth of Christ. Then I told them about the Nativity itself, the creation of the Church, the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and the roles that priests and deacons play. I tried to explain that accepting Orthodoxy in not that simple, that a person must be transformed first. The only normal reason to come to Orthodoxy is to become a saint in the Church, because the human soul unites with God after death. And the role of the priest is to give a person a nudge to begin this effort. There is no easy way of doing this, prayer is needed, and fasting and the fulfillment of all the other Orthodox methods. After a two-hour sermon, many questions were raised by those who sought the true faith, there were representatives of agencies who tried to find something suspicious in my sermon. That night,  about 110 Catholics joined the Orthodox faith. The next day I was also able to baptize about 74 people from 10 Pakistani families. I asked people why they were so interested in my sermon, and they said that they were touched that I, as an Indian, came to them to preach Orthodox Christianity to them, and that I did not look at them as some kind of bad people, I did not judge the way they looked—these Pakistanis are poor, simple peasants. In the church, and during our discussions, I do not take a chair when they sit on the floor—I sit beside them. These people are in special need of pastoral care, for they have no one who will listen to them: neither in the mosque or the Catholic Church. We must keep in mind that in Pakistan and in India, the Catholic Church is a very large, powerful organization. Catholic seminarians are often sent to work as directors of local schools immediately upon graduation, schools that every child aspires to be accepted into. As school directors, Catholic pastors forget that they are first and foremost pastors, not school directors. I explain to the people who come to see me that my task as a priest is to serve people towards their salvation, to love and care for them.

Vladyka was happy to see me return alive…

My next challenge was to preserve the community of one hundred converted Pakistanis. When I returned to Australia, I told Vladyka right away that we must hasten to organize a mission in Pakistan. Vladyka Hilarion gave me his blessing to establish the Archangel Michael Mission. I asked people in Pakistan why they invited me instead of other Orthodox priests who already serve in Pakistan. They answered that those priests belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while I belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and since the Russian Church is the largest of all National Churches which consists of many different peoples, they hoped to receive care from the Russian Church. Considering all the saints who glorified the Russian land, seeing that I belong to this same Russian Church, the Pakistanis believed that I, too, could love them and care for them. I also asked Vladyka Hilarion to appoint more priests so that Divine Liturgy could be celebrated there soon.

My second trip to Pakistan lasted 10 days. This time my chief mission was pastoral care. I met with people, trying to understand their needs, trying to let them “spread my wings” over them. I was then able, for the first time, to celebrate Liturgy in the Russian style but in the Urdu tongue. I was also able to convert a former Catholic priest and his wife to Orthodoxy. Once, as he was translating Liturgical text into Urdu, the words that the priest is to speak touched his heart, and he wished to turn back to those times when these prayers were being composed. This was the reason he wished to convert to Orthodoxy. This last time, over 50 new people came to Christ.

I also wish to say that I now have the ability to travel to Pakistan without an invitation. Once I was able to meet with the Pakistani ambassador and explain who I am and what the Orthodox Church is, and explain that I am no spy, etc. He congratulated me on my efforts in working towards the good of Pakistanis, but said that doing missionary work on a tourist visa is illegal, and then he said a remarkable thing. He told me that he believes in my work in Pakistan, and that I can receive a missionary visa. It is almost impossible for a Christian priest to receive a missionary visa in an Islamic country. During my next trip there I met with Pakistani intelligence, I showed them my cross and my missionary visa, stating that the government permitted me to work here. You can believe me or not, I said. They asked what my plans were, and I said I wanted to build a church. There are three Christians in the Pakistani community who wish to become priests, and they face their own challenges. Orthodox Christians now gather at homes for divine services which are permitted for laypersons to perform themselves; I instructed them to read the Hours and the obednitsa [reader’s service], the Gospel, after which they continue their socializing at tea. It is very important that a regular priest be provided for Pakistan as soon as possible. If a Christian dies, who will conduct funeral services? My next trip to Pakistan is scheduled for January-February, for 5-6 days.

“Neither Greek, Nor Jew”

Next time, a 22-year-old man from Odessa will accompany on my next trip. I invite anyone, not only Australians, but Russians, too, to join me in my work in Pakistan. We have a hotel with armed security, where you will be safe. It is very important for Pakistanis if someone from Russia comes, because then they will feel that the entire Church supports them, cares for them. If you visit them, try to be as gregarious as you can, and poor people will give their last penny to make you feel comfortable.

My dream is to disseminate Orthodoxy, I have no fear of death, because I do everything for the sake of the Church, the Church is my family, my life, the Orthodox Faith overfills me, and I wish to share this with others.

-Fr Adrian, is this your first visit to Russia?

-Yes, this is my first time here. Russia was always a country I wished to visit. Of course, because of the Orthodox Church, I would be happy to stay here forever. One of the favorite saints of the Pakistani community is St Sergius of Radonezh. Being able to venerate his relics was very special for me.

-Do you plan on working with the Moscow Theological Academy?

-Yes. Three of our candidates will soon head for Thailand to see Fr Oleg for Liturgical practice. And I plan to send future candidates here, too. We also have six young women who wish to become nuns, they are about twenty years old. When I asked why, they said that they wish to become brides of Christ. You should know that in Pakistan, as a Muslim nation, a woman has no rights. Two of them were novices in a Catholic convent for six years. Nuns in the Catholic Church are different from Orthodox nuns. We have completely different rules. Fr Georgy Maksimov and I are trying to organize their trip to convents in Russia for a few weeks, so that they could experience that life for themselves.

-You will soon be inviting seminarians to join your mission in Pakistan. What requirements will you have of anyone wishing to go?

-To leave their pride at home. If someone pours you tea in a broken mug, thank them and drink it. The main thing is to be friendly, to love them—that is all you need. Of course, you have to imagine what Islam is and to be able to explain if needed why salvation is found in Orthodoxy, and nowhere else. Of course, I guarantee that you will be safe, better that I die than someone else suffers. One should not think about the Taliban, the community is fairly safe. It would be good if two or three students could go and help me with Liturgy, though I serve in Urdu, some songs could be sung in Church Slavonic.

-What will those who volunteer to go with you do? What will their job be?

– To sit with people and a translator whom I will provide, and tell them about the holy fathers, about Orthodox Christianity, the meaning of life. If you look at our photographs, you would see that I sit with them on the ground, without my cassock, and we talk like friends. My personal experience is that the true spread of the Gospel occurs during a cup of tea, during friendly conversation.

– Not all seminarians have the missionary spirit you speak of; do you think that seminaries can instill the desire to spread the truth to their students?

– It is very egotistical to want to save only oneself. It is easy to save yourself, but to save yourself and your neighbor is much harder. One must think about people who do not know Orthodoxy, do not know the true faith, one must remember that they are dying spiritually. Our goal is to bring them to faith. The seminary must use special programs, they must stress the importance of missionary work, and point to the examples of St Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to-the-Apostles, St John of Shanghai. And of course, it is desirable to invite renowned missionaries to read lectures on their experience.

– Fr Adrian, who finances your trips?

– I do, by working in American Express Bank five days a week.

– Tell us what in the Gospel touches the hearts of the Pakistani people most?

– They had heard the Gospel from the Catholics, and Evangelicals, and Anglicans. I try to emphasize life according to the Gospel, not simply teach them lessons about it. I explain that the Church is not a social club, the main goal of the Church is to approach holiness. In the Church we must see to it that the Gospel is preserved in our hearts, and, as we leave the temple, we must spread this Word of God to the whole world, so that it would give strength to us and to our neighbors.

– What questions are most often asked of you by your flock?

– Most often I am asked about the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. I try to understand them and teach them that their goal is to approach sanctity. The problem is that Catholics don’t approach the level of the common man, they look upon a person as does a judge. As I said, Catholic priests often forget their pastoral role, but when Pakistanis receive care from an Orthodox priest, love is generated, and they immediately see the difference between Orthodoxy and other teachings. They see that this Indian priest named Adrian came to them and cares for them. I learned this from Vladyka Hilarion: when I was in Australia, Vladyka, at the time only an Archbishop, picked me up from the airport in his car, took me home and made me dinner.

Denis Grishkov

Source: ROCOR website

Written by Stephen

December 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Asia, Pakistan, ROCOR

ROCOR in Nicaragua

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I could be wrong, but would this be the first Orthodox parish in Nicaragua?

NICARAGUA: November 28, 2012

The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Makes an Archpastoral Visit to Nicaragua

On November 12-14, 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, visited Nicaragua. The main goal of the visit was to meet with clergymen and Orthodox faithful in the nation.

After his arrival, at a press conference, His Eminence noted: “I am making my first visit to Nicaragua on church matters, since many Orthodox Christians have settled here. Our parish here is headed by Hieromonk German (Castro). Nicaragua is a very good country, a country of light, and the people in this nation are kind and very attentive, living with great hopes for the future. It is very important that a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is opening here. At the present time, there are some 200 Orthodox believers living in Nicaragua. Our parish is located in Camoapa, but another will soon be established in Managua.”

In addition to meetings with clergymen and parishioners, a visit is also planned with Monsignor Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, and his aide, Monsignor Silvio Jose Baez Ortega. During their meeting they will share opinions on the problems affecting all Christians in Nicaragua.

Commenting on the visit of the First Hierarch to this nation, Mr AA Melik-Shakhnazarov, representative of the Russian agency Rossotrudnichestvo stressed that “it is very important for Orthodox Christians living in Nicaragua. They have new hope that the Church has not forgotten them, and they can turn to her for help in moments of need.”

As he bade farewell to Fr German and his parishioners, His Eminence promised to visit them again next year.

Source: ROCOR website

Written by Stephen

December 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Haiti Orthodox Family Relief

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Fr. Gregoire LeGoute (left) & Fr. Jean Dumais (right)

I was recently reminded of the Haiti Orthodox Family Relief program and website, for the ROCOR branch of the Haitian church. Besides being a worthy cause, helping the Church and parishioners rebuild after the earthquake, the website seems to be regularly updated with church news. I recommend browsing the site.

A report, One Year Later, on the Church’s relief efforts can be found here.

The general idea is to sponsor an Orthodox family for US$100 per month for a year. Both parishes and individuals can do this.

As per their website:

The Haiti Orthodox Family Relief (HOFR) program enables Orthodox parishes from around the world to provide direct financial support to Haitian Orthodox families. In cooperation with the Fund for Assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), the program provides direct cash support to Orthodox Readers and families.

Direct financial support is recognized as one of the most effective forms of assistance and is widely recommended by international donors and NGO relief agencies.

General expenses of the HOFR program are paid by the ROCOR Mission in Haiti and the Fund for Assistance. This means the HOFR program delivers 100% of the money raised by Parishes and individuals directly and securely to recipients. Every dollar of Parish support raised through HOFR translates into a dollar of live-saving food, water, shelter or medical care placed directly into the hands of a Haitian Orthodox family.

Those in most dire need are identified by the program’s two priests in Haiti; Fr. Jean Dumais and Fr. Gregoire Legoute, who serve seven Orthodox parishes throughout the country. First priority is given to families without shelter, and to those with infants and small children.

A basic commitment of $100 per month for one year is sought for each sponsored family. For individuals or parishes that are able, a basic commitment of $300 per month for one year will support an Orthodox Reader. These pre-seminarian Readers are at the very core of the Orthodox Faith in Haiti and their tireless service to the Church throughout the county is a vital source of its strength and growth.

All donations to the HOFR program are fully tax deductible and administered by the Fund For Assistance (FFA), a U.S. registered non-profit organization ( Donations can be made by lump sum check made out to Haiti Orthodox Family Relief or donor accounts can automatically debited by the FFA each month. Each month one bulk wire transfer is made by the FFA to the Mission’s bank in Haiti.

To ensure transparency and security, all funding in Haiti is handled through electronic bank transfers. Individual bank accounts are established for recipients, which are automatically credited monthly from the proceeds of the FFA’s wire. Orthodox Priests monitor all participants to ensure that program assistance objectives are being met.

To participate immediately please complete the enclosed Participant Form and one of the three Commitment Letters that corresponds to your donation type. For additional information on Haiti Orthodox Family Relief please call (305) 448-7087 or write

Please do keep the Haitian Orthodox Church in your prayers, and if you could, perhaps this would be a worthy cause to donate to this Lenten season.

Written by Stephen

February 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Caribbean, Haiti, ROCOR

Memory Eternal: Fr. Seraphim Scheidler, of Indonesia, Australia, and America

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From Hexaemeron:

One of the sweetest men we have ever known, Fr. Seraphim Scheidler, reposed in Our Lord, January 17, 2011. He had struggled with a weak heart condition for many years. We first met him in 2003 at our inaugural icon-painting workshop in Lexington, KY. Father became a regular at the Six Days of Creation workshops, sponsored by Hexaemeron non-profit organization, and led by Ksenia Pokrovsky.

Fr. Seraphim loved the Orthodox mission in Indonesia, which he visited twice in an official capacity. In fact, he was ordained to the sub-diaconate at Holy Apostle Thomas Orthodox Church in Jakarta, February 23, 2006, and was initially assigned to work with Fr. Daniel Byantoro, founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church. Fr. Seraphim’s poor heart-health held him back from realizing his desire to serve in Indonesia along side Fr. Daniel.

Truly, an un-self-conscience servant of love, Fr. Seraphim’s focus was always on the person before him. What a shining light of kindness he was, he is, even more brightly now! Fr. Seraphim was (and is) loved by everyone who has been blessed to know him. We at Hexameron are honored to be among this blessed company. We will greatly miss him.

Memory Eternal, our dear Father and friend!

From the ROCOR website of the Eastern American and New York Diocese:

On Monday, January 17, Priest Seraphim Scheidler, rector of St. Innocent Mission in Nashville, TN reposed in the Lord. He was 68.

Priest Seraphim Scheidler was born on November 25, 1942 in Vienna. In 2007, he was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and Australia (currently First Hierarch of ROCOR). After his ordination, Fr. Seraphim fulfilled his service in the Australian Diocese and frequently visited Indonesia in order to assist the missions of the Church Abroad.

Due to serious illness, Fr. Seraphim moved to Nashville, TN and was transferred to the Eastern American Diocese. With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Seraphim founded the missionary parish of St. Innocent of Moscow in Nashville.

Fr. Seraphim is survived by his Matushka Margaret, his sons James and Nicholas, and his daughters Tatiana and Mary.

The clergy and faithful of the Eastern American Diocese are asked to remember the newly reposed Priest Seraphim at the divine services and in their private prayers.

Condolences can be sent to Matushka Margaret at:
121 Buffalo Street
Old Hickory, TN 37138

Schedule of Funeral Services

Friday, January 21:
Funeral in St. Ignatius Church in Nashville, TN – 7:00 PM
Panihida – 8:00 PM

Monday, January 24:
Burial Service – 10:30 AM, led by Bishop George of Mayfield at Holy Cross Monastery,
followed by memorial repast at the monastery.

According to the obituary, donations in memory of Fr. Seraphim may be made to Friends of Indonesia. Read more about Fr. Seraphim at Journey To Orthodoxy.

Written by Stephen

January 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Western Rite News from 2010

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What follows is a collection of news from the Orthodox Christian West blog, roughly covering the last year, and from the Forward in Orthodox Faith blog, covering the last couple of months. For a number of news items, I have found further information elsewhere, for which links have been provided below.

Picture is of Heiromonk Aiden Keller, Western Rite Priest at Holy Protection Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Austin, Texas.

From Orthodox Christian West


Father Joshua, with the patronal blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion has received notice that a donation of 48 acres of high desert land located at the foot of the Mazano Mountains (a spur of the Rocky Mountains) due East of Belen, New Mexico has been donated for an Orthodox Western Rite Christian Heremitage.

Furthermore, this project has elicited a pledge of between 30,000 to 50,000 cement blocks along with the donated services of a world-class architect! God bless all who have come forward to help this hermitage to come into existence! Glory to God!

Further information, along with an intriguing and cheap(er) way to build chapels and churches: Oremus


Wednesday 10th November 2010: His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion has received ten former Continuing Anglican Parishes into ROCOR and blessed them to the Western Rite. These parishes and their eighteen clergy bring to seventeen, the number of ROCOR Western Rite institutions in North America (with three more soon to come) and twenty-three Western Rite clergy. The former Continuing Anglican parishes had, for some time been calling themselves Orthodox as they studied the Faith. Their former married bishops are being Ordained as Priests and will function as Archpriests.

Further information: All of Creation Rejoices
Also, the group’s website: The Fraternity of St. Gregory the Great


Saturday 6th November 2010: The Divine Liturgy of the Western Rite (English Liturgy from the Saint Colman Prayer Book) was celebrated at St. Magnus the Martyr church in central London at 11.00 am. It was be followed by a meeting where those clergy and laity interested in Orthodoxy explored the option of Western Rite Orthodoxy. About two dozen were present and from that it is thought two new missions will arise.


Wednesday 7th July 2010: We welcome Saint Thomas mission as a new Western Rite mission of Saint Petroc Monastery. With over a hundred people led by Fr. Janel, we wish this mission the utmost success.


Friday 2nd July 2010: We welcome the new Western Rite ROCOR mission of Saint Anastasia in Davao City in the Philippines. The mission is led by Chrysostom Canezal, and is planning to acquire a house in Davao City for use as the Saint Anastasia Orthodox Centre.


Wednesday 10th March 2010: Philip Pughe-Morgan will chair a meeting of the Saint Nectan Branch of the Saint Eanswythe Mission on Wednesday the 24th of March at 7pm at the South Molton Methodist church hall.


Wednesday 10th March 2010: His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, Primate of ROCOR has issued a proclamation, naming Fr. David (Pierce) of Holyrood Hermitage as Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Dormition of Our Lady of Mount Royal. The proclamation names Abbot Augustine (Whitfield) as the Abbot Emeritus. Abbot Augustine remains in hospital under ongoing care. Mount Royal was originally received into Orthodoxy in 1962 by Bishop Dositheus.

Further news: Dom Augustine reposed in the Lord on July 4, 2010.


A new West Country branch of the Saint Eanswythe (Western Rite) Mission in England has been formed. Named Saint Nectan for the local fourth century hermit, the branch which covers the Swimbridge, South Molton and Barnstaple area is strictly a study society at the moment – with Mattins of a Sunday morning.

More information about the St. Nectan mission can be found at their website, here.


Agreement has been reached for the Western Rite to be celebrated in the ROCOR cathedral in London on a regular basis, with the lower church as its home.


Metropolitan Hilarion has given verbal permission for the Saint Eanswythe Orthodox Study Society in Bournemouth to become a mission.

More information about St. Eanswythe Mission can be found at their website, here.


FRIDAY the 13th of November. Bishop Jerome reports that the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has decided that all Western Rite throughout the world shall henceforth come under the direct control of Metropolitan Hilarion.

From Forward in Orthodox Faith:
January 11th 2011: From a recent statement by Fr. Michael:

From discussions recently, we understand that the Moscow Patriarchate may be seeing our Western Rite Missions here in England as the first tiny beginnings of a resurgent British Orthodox Church – a western Orthodoxy spread throughout the British Isles and beyond to Europe. That is certainly my hope.

We are not Russians nor Greeks and we do not try to squeeze our people into these foreign national ideas. We are English, Scots, Welsh, Irish – not middle easterners. We have a perfectly viable culture which grew from our Christian beginnings in AD 37. We have a long Orthodox liturgical history and our Christian culture pre-dates that of any currently Orthodox nation. We can build on that – even a thousand years of enforced heresy cannot obliterate our heritage.

For literally a thousand years our ancestors managed to hold a fully Orthodox faith – and develop Liturgy within our culture which expressed that theology – the Western Rite. Here in the British Isles, we developed the Liturgy of Saint John the Divine (the Stowe Missal) which we have in full today. The Liturgy of Saint John the Divine developed into the basis of the Sarum Liturgy – which in turn developed into the Liturgy of 1549. We use both Sarum and a 1549/Sarum derivative as blessed by our Church.

So I ask people to financially and otherwise support our work as we start our first small missions – as Saint Aristibule did in England in AD 37 – missions in north Devon (Saint Nectan) Dorset (Saint Eanswythe) and Holland (Saint Swithbert).

Pray for Fr Gregory (who needs a secular job urgently) and for me (who needs accommodation urgently) as we start this work. Pray for clergy to volunteer and pray for funds to support us.

January 1st 2011: Anglicans in America interested in joining the Orthodox Church as Western Riters may also contact Bishop Jerome at vrevjrs (at) if they wish.

December 16th: Saint Petroc Monastery, through its Saint George Hermitage has launched “Monastery Made” Vestments – dedicated to making quality vestments at lower cost. Monastery Made does not use man-made fabrics, but seeks out lower cost natural material. It can be found on line at

Written by Stephen

January 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Interview and News from Indonesia

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The website Friends of Indonesia, detailing the work of Fr. Daniel’s ROCOR mission, has recently been updated with new pictures, articles, and information. It is well worth checking out, and can be found here.

The latest newsletter has also been released, and can be read here.

Lastly, I thought I’d post part on an interview with Fr. Dionysios Surya Halim (pictured to the left), conducted in 2005 by, titled, “Incarnational Approach to Orthodoxy in Indonesia.” Fr. Dionysios is an Indonesian priest of Chinese descent. The rest of the interview can be read here. The rebirth of Orthodoxy in Indonesia is widely attributed to Archimandrite Daniel B.D. Byantoro, a Muslim Indonesian who converted to Orthodoxy in the 1980s. His missionary effort eventually brought official government recognition of the Orthodox Church in Indonesia in 1996 (with a legal act of Government:” SK Dirjen Bimas Kristen Depag R.I. no.: F/Kep/Hk.00.5/19/637/1996″). Can you tell us how Orthodoxy has grown since then in this predominately Muslim country?

Fr. Dionysios: When Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro (who has some Chinese among his ancestors) started his mission in Indonesia, he was not aware that there was an Orthodox presence prior to his conversion and his mission efforts in Indonesia. This is because what you mentioned about the Church in Batavia (Old Jakarta) happened before Indonesian independence and before the country was called Indonesia. Besides, it was not mainly a mission Church for the Indonesians, but a foreign Church catering to the Russian people. Therefore, as Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has said, our mission, when viewed in the light of the recent connection to the Church of Russia, is indeed a “rebirth” for the Orthodox mission, but being completely independent from any foreign mission endeavor, it is also completely new “phase of modern mission” movement within Orthodoxy. For it is being done by a local son of the Indonesian soil rather than by the missionary efforts of a foreign mission body. It is the Church for the Indonesians started by an Indonesian. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro learned that a Russian Orthodox Church existed in Batavia (old Jakarta) during the last years of the Dutch colonial government in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and the first years of Indonesian government only after he had contact with Archbishop HILARION of Australia. Before that he knew nothing about it. So there is no direct organic connection between the Russian Church in Batavia during the Dutch colonial era and the present indigenous movement of the Indonesian Orthodox Church among the people of Indonesia. The separate histories, the one in the Batavian era and the other in modern Indonesia, are connected by way of the recent ordination of the new priests by Archbishop HILARION.

Right from the very beginning of his mission, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has been conscious of the ethnic diversity of Indonesia, and he made the point from the very beginning that, as part of his mission policy, there has to be an Indonesian-Chinese cultural expression for Orthodoxy in Indonesia in addition to his concentration on the Javanese cultural expression in the city of Solo where he started his mission. And of course there has to be a national expression in the Indonesian language as well. Unfortunately, during the early phase of the mission, there were not many Chinese members who came to the faith. The only Chinese descendant for whom Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro expected to develop the Chinese-Indonesian cultural expression of Orthodoxy was himself. Yet he was culturally more Javanese than Chinese, because he grew up in Java among the Javanese.

Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, who has a Chinese name “Chao Heung Jin”, himself has made efforts to learn the Chinese language. Because of time constraints, he had to abandon the effort, but he is fluent in Korean. However, with the recent marriage of Fr Kyrillos Junan Iswaja (himself a Chinese) before his ordination, Fr Daniel has given us guidance on how to keep the Indonesian-Chinese wedding custom within the context of Orthodox practice without changing the Liturgical tradition of the Church. It was a very beautiful combination.
Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro provides us with much guidance on how to incorporate the Indonesian-Chinese (or other Indonesian ethnic) cultural expression within Indonesian Orthodoxy, and we are going to implement it slowly when the time comes. He has also done similar things with the introduction of some Javanese cultural expressions into Orthodoxy. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has an academic background in cultural anthropology and at present is teaching world religions and cultures at Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, USA. He also knows seven languages and is beginning to learn Russian. It will be his eighth language.

The guiding principle that helps Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro accomplish his mission is the “Incarnational” approach, which means that the Gospel has to be incarnated within the context of the local cultures, languages, financial support and leadership.

The great principle of Nevius, a Protestant missionary to China, is very compatible with this incarnational approach. The Nevian principle states that, in order for any mission effort to be successful at all, it has to fulfill the criteria of “self propagation” (the proclamation of the gospel has to be done by local people with local expression), “self-supporting” (as early as possible the local people have to be able to support themselves financially so that they will not depend upon foreign aid all the time, which results in an unhealthy dependency on the foreign leader rather than the local people) and “self-rule” (as early as possible after proper training the leadership of the Church has to be relegated to the local people, so that it is not under the dictate of foreign interests and power).

With the bitter history of colonialism from which Indonesia has freed itself, it is embedded deep within our psyche to detest and to loathe any sign of colonialism, whether it is political, religious or cultural. Anyone who wants to do mission work in Indonesia while disregarding this Indonesian cultural psychology will be bound to fail in his endeavor. The Indonesian people will revolt against anything that they smack of foreign religious-cultural colonialism (whatever and wherever it comes from).

The vision of Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, which has also become our vision, is that there has to be an indigenous Indonesian Orthodox Church, not an implanted outside culture, interest and power in Indonesia. Any foreign power and cultural imposition will be deemed unacceptable. We want to become Orthodox as Indonesians, we don’t want to become what we are not. Our interest is not in foreign culture, we are only interested in the ” Orthodox Apostolic Faith” of the Church, pure and simple.

Therefore the plans and visions of the mission work for Indonesia were not something incidental, but had been contemplated for a long time by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, even when he was still a student in Korea. They became more intense when he was at Mt. Athos. He was already well taught in his former Protestant Seminary in Korea (which is an affiliate of Fuller Theological Seminary) on the principles of indigenization and inculturation of the Gospel. He knew his culture, and he wanted to express Orthodoxy within the contexts of his own culture. And he found that the history of Orthodoxy and many features of Orthodoxy are conducive toward implementing that kind of indigenization and inculturation.
It was on Mt. Athos that he started to translate the Divine Liturgy into the Javanese language and write the first Orthodox theological treatises in that language. Also during his stay on Mt. Athos, he started to create and coin new terms for translating many Orthodox terms that had not existed within the language. When the newly created terms sounded too awkward and strange, he resorted to using the original Greek terms side by side with them, such as using “Theotokos” alongside “Sang Pamiyos Widdhi.”

Theologically speaking, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro also used the existing thought patterns of Indonesian culture to package Orthodox teaching within the Indonesian mental set up. Just as the Church Fathers had to face Greek paganism, Judaism, and Gnosticism in order to present the Gospel intelligibly to ancient peoples, Orthodox theology faces similar challenges in the context of the Indonesian mission.

Those challenges are:
– The Islamic strand that has similarities with Judaism.
– The Hindu-Buddhistic strand that has similarities with Greek paganism.
– The Javanese-mystical strand called “Kebatinan” (the “Esoteric Belief”) that has similarities to Gnosticism. (It is a blend of ancient shamanistic-animism on the one hand and Hindu-Buddhistic mysticism and Islamic Sufism on the other, and is divided into many mystical denominations and groups, just like Gnosticism was.)
– The secularistic-materialistic strand of the modern world.

The first three strands have made the Indonesian people intensely religious. Into this religious and theological climate, the Patristic approach to ancient Greek paganism, Judaism and Gnosticism has provided, for the present writer, a paradigm to deal with all those strands inherent in Indonesian culture. In this regard, Orthodoxy must build trust among religions in Indonesia before it can have any significant influence. By maintaining a harmonious relationship with other religions existing in the country, Orthodoxy can contribute toward combating the pernicious influence of materialistic secularism.
In term of Orthodox religious practices, there are religious practices that cannot be described as belonging to any particular religion in Indonesian culture. They are practiced all over Indonesia, and although they have many different names and some slight variations in practice, they basically have the same pattern. These practices include fasting, ascetic labor, communal meals, prayer for the dead, and the keeping of relics. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro had to deal with these cultural religious practices carefully, in order that Orthodoxy be acceptable to the Indonesian people.

For example, the practice of sitting on the floor for religious purposes is adopted in the worship of the Church in Indonesia. “Coned rice” instead of kolyva is used for commemorating the dead, since Indonesians do not eat bread as their main staple and do not grow wheat. The prayer of the Trisagion is used to replace the traditional Indonesian practice of honoring departed ancestors. Women wear veils in the Church, as was traditionally done by Orthodox people, but also conforms to the idea of the pious woman in the Indonesian culture. Icons and relics, with a right Orthodox and biblical understanding, have replaced amulets and heirlooms. Communal meals are usually done during festivities in the Church, as well as during Lent, where everybody breaks their fast together in the Church after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. Some cultural symbolism has been adopted as well for the usage of the Church, such as the usage of young coconut leaves for decorating the Church building during festivals and feasts.

The first thing Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro did when he arrived back in Indonesia to start his mission was to form an evangelistic foundation named “Yayasan Dharma Tuhu” (“Orthodox Foundation”) and then changed into “Yayasan Orthodox Injili Indonesia” (“Indonesian Evanglistic Orthodox Foundation”). This foundation later became what we know as the “Gereja Orthodox Indonesia” (“The Indonesian Orthodox Church”), an umbrella organization for all Orthodox jurisdictions if they want to be legally recognized when operating in Indonesia, of which Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro is the president to date. It is the only legal Orthodox organization, and Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro is the only legal president and founder of the organization. No foreigner is allowed to be a head of any religious organization in Indonesia.

When he arrived in Indonesia, the city of Solo, Central Java, there are several forms and methods of mission that Archimandirite Daniel Byantoro adopted, namely:
Proclamation of the Gospel in its wider sense, namely, through preaching, Bible study, direct personal evangelism, friendship evangelism, the distribution of literature, radio broadcasting programs, seminars, socialization, and mission travel.

Preaching means not only what we do during Liturgy in the Church, but also preaching about Orthodoxy at non-Orthodox gatherings, such as during the Christmas festival, during family gatherings, during marriage ceremonies and so on, so that a wider audience will be introduced to Orthodoxy.

Bible Studies are done not only within Orthodox communities, but also done for everybody who is interested to hear. During such Bible studies conducted by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, between 50-100 non-Orthodox people usually come to attend.

Direct personal evangelism has been done by many of our priests. It is done through house-to-house visitation, or when meeting someone on the road, at shops, or at any place the priest or the Orthodox person happens to meet people. It can be done also through personal friendships with non-Christian or non-Orthodox.

We are also sending literature and books to interested people within the city, outside the city, within the island, and outside the island. Sometimes we also sell that literature to other people.

The translation of liturgical books is still being done because we have not finished the Menaion, the Festal Menaion, the Triodion, Pentacostarion, and the Paraklitiki / Octoechos. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, in spite of his busy schedule in the USA, is still doing the translation of the Liturgikon, Eirotelestikon, the Great Horologion, and the Liturgy of St James.

In the Jakarta area, a radio program was started with the Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro as the speaker and an occasional radio program is also done in the city of Solo. The Church in Solo has a vocal group that accompanies such a program.

Seminars on Orthodoxy were done only occasionally because it costs a lot of money, especially to rent a space in a big hotel. The seminars target people in the middle to high-class levels of society.

Last but not least, in order to open the possibility of new mission areas in this huge country of Indonesia, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has done mission travels to different parts of Indonesia, such as to Kalimantan (Borneo), to West and East Sumatra Island, and to Timor Island.

The first thing he did was the translation of liturgical and theological books for the purpose of teaching, and most of the main services have been translated into the Indonesian language and partly in Javanese, Balinese, and the Batak language of Sumatra.

Written by Stephen

January 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Asia, Indonesia, Interview, ROCOR