On the 21st March our COVID-19 response group was formed, it now has a team of 25 volunteers. The aim is to provide assistance to the vulnerable within our community, both young and old and takes the form of buying and delivering groceries, collecting and delivering medications and regular telephone calls and emails to the socially isolated. We do this whilst obeying all instructions from the UK Government to keep ourselves and our community safe.
This initiative is going very well at present with enormous appreciation and gratitude of our Community for the work of the group, as expressed through emails and phone calls.
In making deliveries the volunteers take all necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety by calling ahead to ensure that the supplies are left outside the door so that the person can retrieve them safely.
Please subscribe to it if you can, to access our services. In live streaming the services, we follow the correct procedure to ensure the safety of all involved as we continue this fight to prevent the spread of this virus that has affected so many.
To reach out to our volunteer group please call or text to:
COVID-19 Response Group – 07796 474880
This is a difficult and challenging time for us all, so it is important to follow the Government advice to:
Stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
You are all in our prayers and thoughts.
With love in Christ,
Fr Raphael Orthodox Church and Chaplaincy of St Andrew
My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Grace of God and His Peace be with you and your families,
It has been some time now that, because of this global crisis, we have not seen one another. In obedience to our Archbishop and our civil authorities who are responsible for our public health and well-being we had to close our church. Without a doubt, we must all adhere to the guidelines of the government and show social responsibility in our common fight against the pandemic. But it is also true that we all feel the pain of not been able to worship together in our Church, receive Holy Communion, enjoy the fellowship with one another. The life of our thriving, joyful, vibrant, prayerful Community looks as if it has come to a very sudden halt.
But is it really so? As Fr Zacharias, in his wonderful Word of Consolation for the Pandemic, points out, we may be temporarily deprived of public worship and Holy Communion, but nothing can deprive us of Christ if we want to abide in Him. In prayer we are united with the Lord and with one another. Fr Zacharias reminded us of the Palestinian Fathers who stayed in voluntary isolation for the whole of Lent in order to deepen their prayer and their communion with Christ so that they may participate more worthily in the joy of the Resurrection and the Common Cup. We may also recall the life of St Mary of Egypt who in forty years was able to receive Holy Communion only twice and yet she communed daily with Christ in her heart and mind and became an abode of the Holy Spirit.
During these days for isolation you too may have had the same feeling as I had: a sense that now we have a special opportunity to develop a more authentic relationship with God and our neighbour and to get to know ourselves a little better. For many this time of stillness is proving to be—as one parishioner has put it in an email to me—an exercise to refocus our prayer, to realise God’s presence in our lives, to appreciate the beauty of our church services as we read them at home, alone or with our families, to discover new priceless gems in our Holy Scriptures. After all was it not God Himself Who said: ‘Be still and know that I am God?’ (Ps 45:11)
This trial, just like any trial, can be a cleansing process which will help us reassess our way of life and priorities. It is proving to do so already. For the time being we may not be able to worship together and yet it feels like we are now more united in prayer than before. Many of us, together with our families or alone, pray for ourselves and one another more fervently than previously. Together with millions of other Orthodox Christians around the world we say the Jesus Prayer every night at ten o’clock and Supplicatory Canons and Acathists are read daily in many households. Needless to say, the clergy pray for all of you in the services and their private prayers.
We may be physically distant and yet there is an unprecedented spirit of unity growing right now in our Community. An outpouring of Christ-like love is taking place amongst us. Every day I receive phone calls and emails from parishioners asking how they can help the church, the vulnerable, the infirm, those who live alone. People, who previously were too shy to get involved, now are at the forefront of this labour of love. Some come to the Church and leave food in the hall to be picked up later by our brethren in need while others phone those who live alone or are vulnerable and offer them practical help or a kind word.
In no time a Response Team of twenty-two volunteers was organised to buy and deliver food, medicines and other necessities and provide psychological support to those in need (including members of the wider community). May God bless them and reward them richly!
Yes, we can grow in faith, hope and love even now, or perhaps especially now! At a time when many voices around us spread fear and despondency let us remind ourselves of the life-giving words of our
Lord: ‘’In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have conquered the world’’ (John, 16:33). Christ our God, the Author of Life and Conqueror of Death, is with us!
COVID-19 Update (24th March 2020)
On 23rd March 2020, The First Minister has called for an immediate stop to public gatherings of more than two people in Scotland in a bid to flatten the curve of Covid-19 spread and protect the NHS.
Following a meeting of the UK Government’s COBR committee, an effective ban is in place on gatherings in public places, excluding household groups or in a work-related capacity.
In addition – as the First Minister set out earlier – all non-essential shops should be closed, as well as public spaces such as libraries, communal parks and playgrounds, and places of worship. The ban extends to ceremonial social events, such as weddings and christenings, with the exception of funerals which will be restricted to immediate family only. The First Minister was clear that these decisions are not taken lightly ‘but are essential for the protection of all of us.’
From 23rd March 2020 the only permissible reasons to leave your home are as follows:
To shop for basic necessities and that should be limited to once a day
To take exercise once a day - but alone or with your own household, not in groups
For medical reasons or to care for a vulnerable person
To travel to essential work if that cannot be done at home. Further guidance to employers is pending.
Effectively we are in lockdown.
Our group of volunteers are available to help those most vulnerable in our community. They are co-ordinated on a WhatsApp group and can be contacted on:
St Andrews COVID-19 Response Team – 07796474880 (Antigoni)
From there we can co-ordinate assistance (groceries, picking up prescriptions, etc.) and offer guidance if you have concerns on what to do. For those isolated the volunteer group has offered to phone/skype those people who need support at this time to help alleviate some of the stress that ‘lockdown’ brings; requests can be made on the above number.
Volunteers will have a letter of authority from Fr Raphael to identify themselves.
Orthodox Church and Chaplaincy of St Andrew
Our response to COVID-19
With thanks to members within our community, our strategy to COVID-19 has been to:
React quickly; go after the virus through educational awareness and prevention to stop the chains of transmission;
Engage deeply with the communities that we serve knowing that community acceptance of how we react is hugely important;
Be co-ordinated and coherent in our actions & communication;
Continue to provide our services, albeit differently, to allow all of us to be supported by our faith as we navigate this global pandemic.
It is important that the congregation and their wider families adhere to the Government guidance that is now being issued daily. We can also access the relevant guidance at NHS Scotland.
Each site gives the most accurate up to date information on the virus and gives clear guidance for those in self isolation or quarantine. Be aware of other unreliable sources of information that can sometimes give misinformation and ‘fake news’.
Like many churches across Scotland and following the guidelines of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Government we have had to close. However, via technology we will try to help retain our parishioners’ connection with our Church services. We are attempting at the moment to establish a YouTube Livestream of our services, and we will update this here once we have this available.
We have established a group of volunteers that are available to help those most vulnerable in our community. They are co-ordinated on a WhatsApp group and can be contacted on:
St Andrews COVID-19 Response Team – 07796474880 (Antigoni)
From there we can co-ordinate assistance (groceries, picking up prescriptions, psychological support or phone calls etc.) and offer guidance if you have concerns on what to do.
Coronavirus: All Services Suspended until Further Notice
All public Church services and community activities are suspended until further notice.
Please see the following Communiqué from the Ecumenical Throne:
As this Coronavirus crisis continues to spread and intensify on a global scale, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is monitoring the situation with an urgent sense of responsibility towards its faithful and all people without exception, and, following the Communiqué of 11 March 2020, upon deliberation of its Hierarchs in the City, announces the following:
The Ecumenical Patriarchate emphatically reiterates its appeal to everyone to limit their outings and travels to what is necessary, remaining in their homes for their own safety and the protection of the general public.
It commends the spirit of self-sacrifice demonstrated by those working in the field of healthcare and expresses its gratitude for their extraordinary and exhaustive efforts to assist those in need, as well as for the danger they knowingly risk by coming in contact with those infected by Covid-19.
It underlines the need for everyone to follow the decisions and instructions of the responsible health authorities for the sake of the common good.
In light of decisions already taken by some eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne, today we universally declare our ecclesiastical resolution and mandate to cease all divine services, events, and rites, with the exception of private prayer in churches that will remain open, until the end of March. This restriction will be later reassessed, in accordance with the development of the pandemic caused by the virus.
All Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monasteries will continue to hold regular divine services for their monastic communities, but outside pilgrims and visitors will not be permitted entry.
In the same framework, the Patriarchal Offices at the Phanar will remain closed until further notice, while the Ecumenical Patriarch and clergy of the Patriarchal Court will perform the prescribed divine services and pray for the whole world and for its speedy relief from this trial.
From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod
Phanar, 18 March 2020
With much joy (and a little trepidation) we publish the first issue of our Parish Newsletter.
For some time now, we have been thinking of issuing such a bulletin but did not have either the time or the resolve to do it. We have now launched it and, if God blesses, will try to continue publishing it regularly.
In the Newsletter you will find Parish news as well as articles on the Orthodox Faith and Life written by the Clergy and members of the Parish as well as contributors from outside our Community.
Our hope and prayer is that the Newsletter will help readers appreciate more the Treasure of our Orthodox Faith and encourage members of our Community to become more involved in its life.
If, through this small endeavour, anyone is inspired to love Christ and His Church more, the editors and contributors of the Newsletter will be very glad and should give thanks to the Triune God, to Whom Only is due Glory, Honour and Worship.
The funeral of Yiannis Hadjipieris (age 6) will take place on Tuesday the 23rd of January in our Church at 33 Chapel Street, EH8 9AY, at 10 am.
Funeral of Kyria Themis
Kyria Themis, the mother of our priest father Raphael passed away peacefully this Wednesday evening, during the vespers of our patron saint, the holy apostle Andrew.
The funeral of Kyria Themis will be at 11am on the Friday 8th of December at 2 Meadow Lane. The burial will follow at the Dean Cemetery at 1pm.
We will all remember her with love. May God grant rest to her soul.
Two talks by Sr Magdalene
Sister Magdalene of the monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex will be visiting our parish this weekend. She will give the following two talks in our community:
Dogma and Everyday Life
Friday 19th of May at 19:30 in the church at 2 Meadow Lane. The talk is aimed mainly at young adults, but all are welcome.
Prayer at Home
Sunday 21st of May at 13:30 (after the liturgy) also in the church at 2 Meadow Lane (note that the liturgy will be held at 56 Chapel street). This is for everyone but especially parents. Any contributions of food and snacks will be welcome.
Sister requests that we keep the children in the hall if possible.
Christ is Risen!
Easter services in new church
The following services will be held in our new church. This will provide some much needed space for everyone to fit in.
All of the services this Friday and Saturday will be held there:
The new church is in short walking distance from the current church. The address is 56 Chapel Street, Edinburgh.
Galapagos revisited; ape-men and the fathers
We’re organising a lecture and discussion that will take place this Sunday April 2nd, in the church hall at 13:15 after the Liturgy.
The lecture will be given by Rod Angus, who is an ornithologist and founder of the much-loved Scottish Owl Centre.
His title will be: “Galapagos revisited; ape-men and the fathers”.
The lecture will discuss the theory of evolution and its compatibility with Orthodox Christianity.
With God’s help, this will be the first of a series of lectures that will take place at our parish on Sunday afternoons. This time was chosen so that more of us will be able to attend.
Families with children are welcome. Please come if you are able, to hear what will certainly be an interesting talk, and join in the discussion.
Every year around this period - according to the constitution - the parish holds its annual general meeting (AGM), in which the church committee and groups within/connected to the community report back to the community on how the last year has gone, discuss matters of interest and importance, answer questions, and - importantly - listen to the opinions of the gathered body of the community and receive feedback and advice from them. This as foreseen by the constitution, according to the guidelines of the Archdiocese and the spirit of Orthodoxy, happens because no one is right in himself but “when two or three are gathered together” in our Lord’s name, He is present there in the midst of them for guidance, support and unity (see Matthew 18:20).
The date of this year’s AGM has been set for 30 April (2017). The meeting will be held in the church hall at 2 Meadow Lane at around 1:30 pm. The agenda and further information will be circulated beforehand.
At this year’s AGM the term of office for the current committee members ends. According to the constitution, a new committee is elected by community members present at the AGM.
The following extract from the constitution document explains the conditions of membership to the community:
ARTICLE III – Members
The members of the Orthodox Church in Scotland are all those of whatever age, sex or nationality, who have been duly accepted into Communion with the Holy Orthodox Patriarchs and are resident in Scotland.
The members of the Edinburgh Orthodox Community of St Andrew are those of the above as defined at III (i), who worship in the Edinburgh church, who accept the spiritual jurisdiction and authority of the Clergy of the Community, the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and who abide by this Constitution. Members entitled to vote at meetings of the Community shall be those who have reached their eighteenth birthday and who, for at least the six months previous to their
exercising such a vote, have attended services of the Community in Edinburgh or elsewhere, and who have paid an annual subscription of an amount to be determined from time to time by a General Meeting.
Likewise, the relevant extract (paragraph 1) from Article VII of the constitution provides the guidelines for the nomination of committee members.
ARTICLE VII – Election of Lay Committee Members
When notice is given of the Annual General Meeting, members of the
Community entitled to vote shall be requested to send to the Secretary, in
writing, at least ten days before the date of the meeting, nominations for
Chairman and for not more than six candidates, having first ascertained the
willingness of each to serve. The Secretary shall send to each candidate a
copy of Article VI of the Constitution with a tear-off reply slip to be returned
signed in confirmation of willingness to serve on the Committee and attend its
meetings in Edinburgh. The Secretary shall then prepare a list of qualified
nominees for submission to the Electoral Meeting, and this shall serve as a
The secretary is Antigoni Mitsioni, to whom you can send nominations to at email@example.com.
The current membership fee, set at £20 for employed people and at £10 for students and the unemployed by previous AGMs, is to be paid to the treasurer in order for parishioners to obtain membership status according to the law governing charities in this country (our parish is a registered charity with Scottish Charity Number: 040613).
For those regular members of the parish who, for financial reasons, find it difficult to pay their subscription in order to register and be legally recognised as members of the Community, previous AGMs - referred to above - that set the above fees have also foreseen that the Community would partly or fully cover their subscriptions by means of a donation. Thus finance would not be an obstacle to parishioners who would wish to register, vote or be voted for (as a committee member), or vote on a decision to be taken at the AGM.
Important Agenda Item: Constitutional Amendment
As requested by our Archbishop, our constitution should be amended as regards the election of the chair of the committee. At present, the chair is elected directly by the AGM, separately from the other committee members. Archbishop Gregorios has requested that we amend our constitution so that the chair of the committee is elected by the members of the new committee from among their number. This amendment will be on the agenda of the upcoming AGM.