British Orthodox


First millennium Heritage Third Millennium












The Way We Were

For a thousand years, from AD37-45 to AD1054-66, the people living in the British Isles believed and worshipped God as an integral part of the undivided Orthodox Catholic Church. That Church was governed world wide by five Patriarchs, those of Constantinople (the Ecumenical Patriarch), Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. The Church in the British Isles was a local expression of the common Christian Faith held throughout the world. The great saints of the British Isles such as Saint Aidan, Saint David, Saint Patrick, Saint Alban, Saint Chad, Saint Cuthbert, Saint Boniface, Saint Dunstan etc., were all members of that Orthodox Catholic Church in the British Isles which continued for a thousand years.

The initial split in the world wide Church occurred just after the beginning of the second millennium, when the Patriarch of Rome and his people parted from the majority of the Church led by the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other three Patriarchs. Throughout the second millennium, the church adhering to the Pope (Patriarch) of Rome, continued to split and further split until today there are some ten thousand separate groups or churches.

The original Church, the undivided Orthodox Catholic Church, still exists and is still led by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. Because during the past millennium, the Church has expanded, to them have been added several other patriarchates, most notably those having the largest number of Orthodox people in the world today, the Church of Russia and the Church of the Ukraine. Today the Church founded by Christ and spread by His Apostles and Evangelists - the Orthodox Church - numbers hundreds of millions of members.

The Church of England in recent times has moved farther and farther away from its original path and has now reached a stage far beyond recall.

Among the Reformation Bishops in England, there were some who, according to their writings, wanted to return to the ďPrimitiveĒ Church, by which they meant the Church of the first millennium. Unfortunately, in this, they were thwarted by events and people.

How can we now ensure our own spiritual survival in the tradition of those of our ancestors who held or attempted to hold the true Faith of the Apostolic Church?

Is there a way that we can re-unite ourselves with the original Church that our Bishops so long ago wanted to recover?

Orthodoxy for Anglicans

In 1879, the Convocation of the Church of Russia determined that the Western Liturgy could be used by Orthodox people. In 1904, upon a submission made by Archbishop Tikhon (later Patriarch of Moscow, Martyred by the communists and canonised as Saint Tikhon) the Convocation set up a Commission to investigate the adaption of the services of the Book of Common Prayer for use by Orthodox people. In 1907 it received and approved the Commission report.

In 1936, the Patriarchate of Moscow issued Letters Patent regarding the use of the Western Rite. In 1937 in France, Father Eugraph, who had been studying the Orthodox origins of the West European Church, was joined by a group of Old Catholics wanting to return to Orthodoxy while still retaining their Western liturgical Use and customs. They came under the guidance of the Russian Orthodox Archbishop John (later canonised as Saint John Maximovitch) to whom they had been directed by a monk of Mount Athos in Greece. Archbishop John supervised and approved the restoration of the ancient Gallican Liturgy for use in France.

In 1958, the Patriarchate of Antioch adopted the services taken the Book of Common Prayer for use by its people. In Holy Week 1961, on the authority of Patriarch Alexander III of Antioch, Archbishop Anthony in North America, received Father Alexander Turner and a group of Parishes into the Orthodox Church and blessed them to use the Western Rite.

Then in March, 1962, Abbot Augustine Whitfield and the Benedictine Monastic Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Royal was received by the Russian Orthodox Bishop Dositheus. In 1975, Archbishop Nikon received the Monastery into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, continuing the Western Rite blessing.

In 1980, Father Michael Trigg and the former Anglican Parish of Saint Michaelís, Whittier, were received into Orthodoxy by Archbishop Phillip, Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America. The Antiochians had set up a Western Rite Vicariate directly under the Metropolitan Archbishop as a home for such parishes. Over the years, former Anglican Parishes have been able join this as Western Rite Orthodox, maintaining their familiar worship and customs. One good example is Saint Markís Church in Denver. An amalgamation of elements of two former Episcopal Church parishes, it joined the Antiochian Orthodox Western Rite Vicariate in 1992. It now has a 350 strong congregation and has formed at least four daughter Parishes.

In 1993 the Monastery of Christ the Saviour was established in Rhode Island as a Western Rite Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. In 1997 the former Continuing Anglican Monastery of Saint Petroc in Tasmania was received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This latter case is interesting in that the Monastery, its Parishes and people were blessed to the Western Rite and it was instructed to act in a missionary role, establishing further Parishes and Missions throughout Australia and New Zealand.

These are just a few examples picked out. Over the years numbers of ex-Anglican clergy, people and Parishes in North America and now in Australia and New Zealand, have turned to Orthodoxy and many have set about the restoration of the legitimate Orthodox heritage of the British Isles and, by extension, of those people who acknowledge their British Isles ancestry, wherever they may be now. They have insisted that such restoration must be in the context of strict adherence to the fulness of Orthodox doctrine and expressed within their own cultural heritage. Indeed, many of those turning to Orthodoxy are among the most theologically conservative of churchmen and prefer the liturgical, theological and moral discipline still found within Orthodoxy.

The Orthodox Church alone today, has the exhaustive historical, doctrinal and spiritual credentials demanded by anyone who has studied the Church of the Apostles and the Ecumenical Councils. The Orthodox Church alone today can authorise our native expressions of Christian worship, precisely because they are of Orthodox origin. The Orthodox Church alone today, has the truly conciliar, authoritative structure and ethos which we find most suitable to the true pursuit of Christian living.


We too, can have this...

The fact is that this kind of Orthodoxy, faithful to the true and full teachings of the canonical Orthodox Church, but utilising the Liturgy which expresses the Faith in our culture can be made available to us.

The Church here was Orthodox for around 940 years before Russia was Christian and long before some of the other Orthodox nations became Christian. We have an Orthodox tradition which is ours by right. This Orthodoxy is the natural and proper expression of Christianity for our people.

We can have it, as a canonical part of the world Orthodox Church - if we choose to. To achieve this, we would have to show ourselves to be serious Christians. We would have to shed the fissiparous, doctrinally irresponsible, heretically addicted image that our erstwhile leaders have ďachievedĒ for us in the eyes of serious Christians in the Orthodox Church. Why should they risk their unity in order to allow us to saunter in, possibly carrying dangerous doctrinal infections with us? It is their salvation that would be put at risk. So the onus is on us to show ourselves to be truly Orthodox before we start asking. The point is that we CAN have our own familiar expression of the Faith, the expression which our ancestors fought and died for long before many nations were even Christian... but we must work for it.

The Future

The restoration of our legitimate Orthodox heritage and place within the Orthodox Catholic Church cannot be a backward looking historical exercise. If it is, it will attract no one.

A genuine, forward-looking, dynamic restoration would place us firmly within the bounds of the very large, respectable, and very active, world wide Orthodox Church. The Church which has, over the last decade alone, opened well in excess of 13,000 Parishes, over 250 monasteries and around 25 theological seminaries.

We are at the beginning of the Third Millennium of Christianity. We must pick up where our ancestors left off. We need to put ourselves in a position where we can step boldly into this new millennium.


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Petition for Action


I would like to see the legitimate Orthodox heritage of the British Isles restored to its rightful place within the canonical Orthodox Church.

I would like to see restored British Isles Orthodoxy under the authority of a resident Bishop, himself able to use the Western Rite.

I would not be satisfied with anything less than mandatory adherence to the fullness of Orthodoxy. I would be unhappy to see such a restored jurisdiction required to participate in British Council of Churches activities.

In the event that I saw a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction make provision for Parishes and Monasteries to be formed in this country, irrevocably blessed to use the Sarum and English Liturgies in the vernacular, I would seriously consider converting to Orthodoxy and joining one of the Parishes.

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Your Questions Answered

E-mail your questions and we will post an answer here



Arenít there already one or two groups in this country calling themselves Orthodox - one of them something like Celtic Orthodox or something?


Yes, there is a group with a name something like that. It is connected with a bishop in France, they have a bishop in the north of England too. However, as we understand it, none of the major Orthodox Churches recognises them, their Orders etc. They are apparently a breakaway from the old vagante organisation of Mar Georgius which was dealt with in Peter Ansonís book Bishops At Large.


I am interested in becoming Western Rite Orthodox, but how would I get a Parish started? I am a layman living in the home counties.


At this early point, the best thing to do is quietly to find out who you know who is dissatisfied, searching; find out if there are any dissidents against the changes etc., and, showing them this site, find out if they are interested. If they are, form a loose sort of group affiliated to Resurgence. Let us know and weíll send you reading lists that you can use to find out more about Orthodoxy. You only need three or four people - and then spread the word.

Once we know youíre there, weíll keep in touch.


I know a Church of England priest who is very Anglo-Catholic and might be interested in becoming a Western Rite Orthodox Priest, what would be the best way of approaching him?


There are many variables in this. Often CofE clergy arenít necessarily suitable because so many have become "institutionalised" - they expect everything to be done for them. They want to be part of a huge institution.

There are no diocesan stipend cheques, no rectories - usually no church building. It all has to be found at Parish level. If you canít find anyone to do the job, thatís probably because you havenít looked in a mirror lately.... It needs stable, sane, active, committed men: In this country, Orthodoxy is going to be in a decidedly missionary situation. This needs clergy (and laity) who are highly committed, can look after themselves, who can earn a secular living and who are not too conscious of their "status". Wives quickly find out that being an Orthodox Priestís wife carries no social status whatsoever in the general community and sadly this is often a powerful deterrent.

Then there are others who think that loss of status is just great and will free them up to do the real work of spreading the Word.


St. Petroc's Western Rite Orthodox Monastery :


The St. Dunstan Psalter - Lancelot Andrewes Press:

Western Orthodox Saints:


Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Sydney:          

Orthodox Web TV - video talks and interviews:    

Bishop Alexander of Buenos Aires - resource material:

Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies:           

Online Orthodox Theology Degree Course:

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