The history of the Russian Orthodox Church in London, one of
the oldest Russian Orthodox parishes in western Europe, has its origins in the 16th century, but it was in 1698 when Peter the Great visited England that a permanent place of worship was established at the Russian Embassy. As the Russian community was small this is where it remained until 1917.
After 1917 the history of the parish reflects the history of the post-revolutionary Russian emigration. The main flow of refugees from Russia settled in France. They grouped around clergy led by Metropolitan Evlogii (Georgievskii) appointed by Patriarch Tikhon.
In the early 1920s Metropolitan Evlogii consecrated the Church of St Sergius in Paris and with it, in 1925, the Orthodox Theological Institute, which still remains the most important centre of Russian Orthodox theology in western Europe. Its teachers included such outstanding theologians as Bulgakov, Afanasiev, Florovskii and many others. Metropolitan Evlogii also blessed the work of the Russian Student Christian Movement (RSCM).
Our parish is a direct descendant of the parish in London, which was part of
the Temporary Administration of Russian Parishes in western Europe, headed by
Metropolitan Evlogii. From the 1920s until 1950s they worshipped at St Philip's, which had been lent to them by the Church of England. When, in 1954, it had to be pulled down to make way for the Victoria Bus Station, new premises were eventually found.
In 1931, Stalin pressured Metropolitan Evlogii to recognise the Soviet Union, which at the time was actively atheist. As a result, Metropolitan Evlogii appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch Photius II to take his flock under his jurisdiction. Metropolitan Evlogii used the ancient practice of churches outside their country of origin to appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
In the second half of the 1940s, under the parish priest Fr Vladimir Theokritoff the parish moved to the Moscow Patriarchate, believing that this decision would help support the suffering church in Russia. Soon afterwards Fr Vladimir died and he was followed by a young priest, who had originally come to England from Paris to the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius. His name was
Anthony (born Andrew B. Bloom), the future Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (link to http://www.mitras.ru/fund.htm'). He is still recognised as the spiritual father of our parish.
Educated according to the principles of the RSCM and the Russian Council of 1917-18, Metropolitan Anthony dedicated his life to the same mission as Metropolitan Evlogii: bringing Orthodoxy to western Europe.
The deeply inspiring teachings of Bishop Anthony brought amazing results. By the end of the 20th century the Sourozh diocese had blossomed in the UK with parishes throughout the country. The laity and clergy together were actively involved in parish activities in the spirit of the 1917-18 Council. He insisted that our London parish be entirely self-financing and never accepted monies from outside bodies, including the Moscow Patriarchate. Accordingly, the members raised funds locally and were able to purchase the cathedral in central London as well as the priests' houses. The spirit of true Orthodoxy, along with the outstanding personality of Metropolitan Anthony, attracted many.
In 2006, after the death of Metropolitan Anthony, the Diocesan Assembly together with the senior clergy decided to leave the Moscow Patriarchate to preserve his spiritual heritage. They appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch to be taken back under his omophorion. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew granted the request and the vast majority of the longstanding members of the parish returned to the "Exarchate of the Holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople". They are now part of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in western Europe under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarch (link to site of the Archdiocese). In this manner our parish retains canonical communion with the entire Orthodox Church.
The clergy and members of the parish welcome people of all nationalities, all ages and all walks of life to come and worship with us.