Church in Gosford
This year in Australia, as the church continued in its 40-day celebration
of the glorious Resurrection of Christ, something of significance
took place for the whole Diocese: the blessing Ė for the first time
in many years Ė of a new church, dedicated to the Holy Great-Martyr
and Healer Panteleimon.
Located in Gosford, an hourís drive to the north of Sydney, the
newest parish of the Australia and New Zealand Diocese was formed
with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion, Ruling bishop
of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand,
in the late 1990ís.
Although the community had regular Divine Services over the first
3-4 years, it was without a permanent home. Until March 2004, the
Divine Services were conducted in the Narara Community Centre, a
hall leased from the municipal authorities. This required a great
effort from the community, including the transport of all items
necessary for the celebration of the Divine Services.
From early in 2002, community leaders were actively seeking a permanent
home for the church. Efforts were for some time directed towards
the lease or purchase of unused or rarely used church properties
belonging to other denominations. For various reasons, these pursuits
were unfruitful. In view of this, other options were discussed,
including the use of light industrial space.
On 28th August 2003, a number of community members inspected a new
industrial unit (a small warehouse) in West Gosford. This unit was
large enough to house a church, hall, kitchen, storage space, and
(in time) an office and classrooms under a single roof. Council
zoning was appropriate, and it was felt that it would allow the
parish to build community life, invest funds raised, and obtain
a parish centre while continuing to save to build a permanent church.
A parish council meeting that evening and an Extraordinary Parish
Meeting convened with Archbishop Hilarionís blessing on September
7, 2003, decided unanimously in favor of purchase. Finance was negotiated
and the sale completed in December 2003. Many members and friends
of the parish began to donate money to assist the community.
In January 2003, work began to make the unit suitable for the needs
of the parish. Under the direction of V.N. Golovin, a beautiful
church was built, together with a hall, kitchen, and upstairs storage
facilities. The church was adorned with icons and other church items
generously donated by individuals and by other parishes within the
diocese. New icon stands were built, and the Ladiesí Committee labored
to sew new church vestments for Holy Week and the Paschal season.
Adequate room above the hall remains for the building of classrooms
and a parish office. The first service Ė vigil for the feast of
the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem -- was held, with Vladyka Hilarionís
blessing, on 3 April 2004. A number of Holy Week services were then
held, and on Pascha itself the parish had the great joy of serving,
for the first time, Paschal Matins and the Divine Liturgy, with
approximately 100 of the faithful in attendance.
On Saturday May 15, vigil was served by the Rector of the church,
Priest James Carles, and by Protodeacon German Polorotov. On May
16, 2004, the Sunday of the Blind Man, Fathers James and German
served a lesser blessing of waters at 8.00 am. Archbishop Hilarion
was welcomed at 9.00 am by the parish children with flowers, and
by the warden, A.N.Yakimov, with the traditional bread and salt.
Having been vested, Vladyka Hilarion proceeded to perform a lesser
blessing of the church. Assisting, and later concelebrating at the
divine liturgy, were Archpriest Nikita Chemodakov, Priest James
Carles, Hieromonk John (MacPherson), Priest Alexander Korjenevski,
Protodeacons Basil Hadarin, Basil Yakimov, Basil Kozulin, German
Polorotov and Deacon Christopher Henderson. At the Small Entrance,
Father James was awarded the right to wear the nabedrennik. Priest
Daniel Metlenko arrived shortly before the end of the service, having
driven all the way from Sydney after serving Divine Liturgy in his
own parish! A short moleben of thanksgiving was served at the end
of the Divine Liturgy, after which gramatas were presented to the
warden and parish founder, A.N. Yakimov, and the church builder,
V.N. Golovin. Over 300 of the faithful from Gosford, Sydney and
Newcastle were present, with buses having come from the parishes
of Saint Nicholas, Fairfield; Saint Vladimirís, Centennial Park;
and Saint Nicholasí, Newcastle. As they approached the cross at
the end of the service, all present were sprinkled with holy water,
blessed and presented with a specially-printed icon of the Great-Martyr
Panteleimon, and given a commemorative postcard with a interior
view of the new church.
All the clergy and a great many of the faithful then attended a
festive banquet at the Narara Community Centre, at which speeches
of thanks and congratulations were given. Oleg Pavlovich Kolokolow,
the starosta of the church of Saint Nicholas, Newcastle, one of
Australiaís oldest parishes, presented the Gosford parish with a
beautiful icon of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. All present on the day
agreed that the blessing of this new church was a wonderful event
in the life of our Russian Orthodox Church in Australia, and rejoiced
that a new parish had arisen. Glory to God for all things!