On October 19-22, 2012, London was the host city for the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the founding of Sourozh Diocese. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the jubilee was headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. Also participating were hierarchs who gathered in London for the Conference of Russian Orthodox Bishops Serving in the Diaspora.
On October 19, as part of the celebrations, the choir of Moscow’s St Danilov Monastery gave a concert in the Anglican Church of St James in Picadilly. His Eminence Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh and Russian Ambassador to Great Britain Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko welcomed the guests. The choir sang liturgical works be renowned composers and other spiritual music. They also participated in divine services marking the anniversary.
On October 20, all-night vigil was performed at Dormition Cathedral of the Diocese of Great Britain of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk; His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of ROCOR; His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britian (ROCOR), and Archbishop Elisey. They were joined by Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, Vice President of the Department of External Church Relations of the MP; Archimandrite Irenei, Dean of SS Cyril and Athanasius Institute for Orthodox Studies in San Francisco (ROCOR); Protopriest John Behr, Dean of St Vladimir’s Seminary (Orthodox Church in America), and other clergymen of the dioceses of ROCOR and Sourozh. Also praying at the service were His Eminence Archbishop Anatoly of Kerch; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe; His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Egoriev, Director of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administration of Foreign Institutions; His Grace Bishop Iov of Kashira, Administrator of Patriarchal Parishes in Canada; His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart; His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland; His Grace Bishop John of Caracas and South America; His Grace Bishop George of Mayfield, and His Grace Bishop Nestor of Korsun. Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash) of the Constantinople Patriarchate was also in attendance.
The main event was Divine Liturgy at Dormition Cathedral of Sourozh Diocese, celebrated by Metropolitan Ilarion; Metropolitan Hilarion; Archbishop Mark (ROCOR); Archbishop Elisey; Archbishop Kyrill; Archbishop Anatoly; Archbishop Gabriel; Archbishop Michael; Moscow Patriarchate Mark of Egoriev; Bishop Iov; Bishop Peter; Bishop John; Bishop George and Bishop Nestor.
The host of archpastors were joined in the service by Protopriest Benedict Ramsden of Sourozh Diocese; Protopriest Nikolai; Archimandrite Irenei; Protopriest John; Protopriest Serafim Gan, Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR, and many clerics of Sourozh Diocese. Praying at the service was also Ambassador Yakovenko.
After the service, Metropolitan Ilarion greeted everyone on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who had given his blessing for this great celebration of the Sourozh Diocese. Vladyka asked everyone to prayerfully remember the first bishop and founder of the diocese, Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom):
As Metropolitan Ilarion noted, Vladyka Anthony continued his service for many years, bringing people to Christ, and lived to see the time when a new wave of immigrants from Russia and the countries of the CIS flooded Great Britain. The Church was suddenly given new opportunities, and churches which were becoming empty were once again filled with worshipers. The Sourozh Diocese got its “second wind.” The President of the DECR went on to say:
Vladyka Ilarion then gave Archbishop Elisey an icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
Metropolitan Hilarion then delivered a congratulatory word. “Today, on behalf of the episcopacy, clergy and flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, I wish to congratulate Archbishop Elisey, his clergymen and parishioners, all of you, dear brothers and sisters, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Sourozh Diocese. This is an important, and a jubilant, event. We wish you mercies from our Lord God for the strengthening and flourishing of your diocese. We will always remember you and today’s celebrations,” said Vladyka.
Archbishop Rowan Williams sent a congratulatory message, read by Rev. Jonathan Goodall, Secretary of the Archbishop on Inter-Church Relations. The letter said, in part:
The President of the DECR expressed thanks to the Russian Ambassador for his cooperation when he served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. In recognition of his achievements, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill deemed proper to award Mr Yakovenko with the Medal of St Daniel of Moscow (III Degree), which Metropolitan Ilarion gave him, congratulating him, incidentally, on his birthday.
Archbishop Elisey also congratulated Ambassador Yakovenko and thanked him for his service to his compatriots and to the church community.
He added that this anniversary is connected with memories of the past and confidence in the future: “We wish to point out to all Britons that Orthodoxy is not something new here, but the it was the very faith of the saints glorified on British land in the first centuries of Christianity.” Archbishop Elisey then presented a book on the saints of Britain and Ireland, published by the Sourozh Diocese in Russian for the first time.
Prince Michael of Kent was in attendance at the reception, as well as the archpastors and clergymen who celebrated divine services; Archbishop Athanasios of Tropaeou, Vicar of the Thyateira of the Constantinople Patriarchate; Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster (Roman Catholic Church); Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain; ambassadors of various Orthodox Churches, representatives of Christian communities and other Orthodox participants in the celebrations.
That evening, London’s Cadogan Hall was the venue of a ceremony in honor of the anniversary. Archbishop Elisey welcomed the audience, then inviting Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, who gave a speech:
Vladyka Ilarion then gave Patriarchal ecclesiastical awards to worthy clergymen and laypersons. The Medal of St Sergius of Radonezh (I Level) was given Vicar of Sourozh Diocese, Archbishop Anatoly of Kerch. The Medal of St Danil of Moscow (III Level) was given to the senior clergyman of the diocese, Protopriest Benedict Ramsden; the Medal of St Evfrosiny of Moscow (III Level) to Mr T Nosov, Warden of the cathedral; and medals and Patriarchal decrees of blessing to other clergymen and benefactors of the diocese. Archpastoral decrees of blessing were then given by Archbishop Elisey.
A concert followed, at the end of which a documentary was shown: “Sourozh. Erasing Borders,” by Alexey Mikhalev.
Press Service of the DECR.