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The Invasion of Ukraine

Please click here to read a statement by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
about the War in Ukraine made on Sunday, February 27th, 2022.

In addition, please click here to read a special Parish Bulletin about Ukraine, entitled ‘But What Can I Do?’, which gives details of where to donate essential supplies locally, as well as links to organisations collecting financial aid (including our Archdiocese), ways to make your voice heard in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and immigration advice.

A Lenten Message from our Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain

Encyclical for the Beginning of the Holy & Great Lent 2022

In just a few days, we will begin the Lenten journey to Pascha. The Church once again, invites us to walk the sacred path of liturgical and personal preparation, as She has done for centuries. She sounds the trumpet of the Lord and summons all the faithful to put on the armour of salvation, so as to reach our destination victorious over the passions. The journey is not an easy one, especially as the ways and temptations of the world present themselves to us, trying to pull us away from our path and into sin. Yet, the Church does not neglect to provide us with an array of tools and weapons to cleanse and fortify ourselves at every opportunity, and, when need arises, the means to gently wipe our eyes dampened by tears of repentance and to soothe our troubled brow.

If one were to sit and read the hymnology of the Church, he or she would notice that the desert ascetics of old and the spiritual hoplites that lived in our own day and time universally embraced three important disciplines that allowed them to be delivered from the sin, evil, and temptations of this life. The good fight comprises of fasting, vigilance and prayer; these are the weapons and shield that protect the Christian people from the darts of the evil one. Please allow me to offer a few thoughts about each of these virtues, so that you can be strengthened in your Lenten journey and in life.

Fasting — When we, as Orthodox Christians, speak about fasting and the fast, our mind usually goes to dietary restrictions and abstaining from things. In reality, though, the word ‘fast’ means to not eat at all. But, Christ Himself and the Fathers of the Church never understood the fast in this limited and restrictive manner. The Church, which preserves and correctly teaches what is true, reminds us that the fast encompasses our whole life and, therefore, includes uprooting sin from every aspect of our lives, in addition to voluntarily abstaining from certain foods and activities of life. The great hymnographers of the Church teach us by recounting how Moses cleansed his eyes through fasting and was able to look upon and converse with God. True fasting is likened to the role of a sword in our spiritual panoply, but this is a blade that can also be used on ourselves as a surgical scalpel, delicately cutting away every evil from our heart. The hymnographers remind us that the suitable time for repentance is at hand, and that through the virtue and discipline of fasting we achieve victory over the demons. In the hymns, we read that fasting is the mother of prudence, the accuser of sin, the companion of repentance, the polity of the angels, and the salvation of people. It is for this reason that the ecclesiastical authors tell us to keep the fast that is pleasing to the Lord: reigning in the tongue, distancing ourselves from anger, separating ourselves from earthly desires, and so much more. Charity and almsgiving are also often mentioned hand-in-hand with fasting. We are told that these are the elements of a true and acceptable fast in the eyes of the Lord. It is interesting to note the inclusion of these other deeper aspects of fasting in the above descriptions and the lack of a focus on food.

Vigilance — In the Old Testament book Song of Songs, the author writes “though I sleep, my heart is vigilant” (and awake). In order for one to fight against sin and to converse with God through prayer, one must be vigilant, attentive, awake, and careful not to be led astray by distractions and far from one’s real purpose and mission. Vigilance is being spiritually prepared to receive the Bridegroom, who comes in the middle of the night.  Thus, we fulfil the words of Scripture, which tell us “Keep your heart with all vigilance … let your eyes look directly forward and let your gaze be straight before you”. When one abstains from the heavy, fatty, sumptuous foods that so often fill our plates, we feel lighter, and more peaceful. He who is vigilant and awake does not fall into the slumber of sin. We are more attentive and pay closer attention to what we do and say. We cultivate in our hearts the virtue of vigilance, silently waiting for the unwaning light that comes forth from the empty tomb. In his First Epistle, St. Peter reminds us to be sober and watchful. Let us, then, be watchful and vigilant so that we may cross the turbulent seas of life and safely reach the harbour of the Resurrection.

Prayer — The scriptural readings that lead us into Lent tell us how we should pray. The directives are simple and clear. We must not be like the hypocrites; rather, we should go into a private space and avoid heaping up empty phrases. Our prayer should be sincere, simple, and filled with words of compunction and truth. St. John of the Ladder reminds of these important matters when he writes his divinely-inspired work. He tells us that the short, honest, appealing words of the thief on the cross gave him entrance into paradise. We need to change the direction of our thoughts and, perhaps, how we pray. Too often we worry about the quantity and not the quality involved in prayer. Having understood the spirit in which we should pray, it is then up to us to cultivate and discover our own relationship to prayer, to work in order to really make prayer our own, personal expression before God. Then, we will learn the comforting power of prayer and what is meant when the hymns refer to prayer as our breastplate. Lent affords us this opportunity.

If we cleanse our bodies and minds through fasting, if we become more alert to our sins and sensitive to the love of God, and if we reach out to Him in prayer, then we will live the Lenten period as is meant.

May God grant us the courage, strength, discernment, and above all the love, to faithfully embark on this sacred journey so that we may arrive together at the beauty, glory and light of the Resurrection of Christ at Pascha.

With paternal love and blessings,

Holy and Great Lent, 2022

With paternal love and prayers,

X Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain

Father Peter’s Funeral, 18th September 2020

Here is a link to an article on the Deanery Website (Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain) about Father Peter’s funeral, which took place in Higher Cemetery in Exeter on Friday 18th September:

Funeral Arrangements for Father Peter

Dear Friends,

We would like to thank you all for your prayers and expressions of love after the death of Fr Peter on Friday.

We deeply regret that due to current Covid-19 restrictions the funeral can only be attended by close family. However, we understand how loved and respected he was by all, and we would like to provide the opportunity to say goodbye. Therefore, Fr Peter will be resting in our parish church of St Anne’s this week.

Please do visit him on Tuesday 15th, 10am-8pm, or Wednesday 16th September, 10am -2pm.

In order to adhere to current guidelines, you will be greeted at the gate and advised how to proceed, either one at a time or in family groups. While many of us will want to give a farewell kiss, we have to ask that you do not touch his body or coffin directly. Instead, you will be given a small icon of St Peter, that you may venerate in his presence.

Please be aware that you may have to wait while others say their goodbyes. We ask that you wait outside the gates until directed to enter in order to safeguard the residents.

We ask that you please do not bring flowers. However, there will be a collection box for donations to our sister parish in Uganda.

Fr Peter will be buried on Friday and we invite you to light a candle in his memory and we know that you will be with us all in spirit.

If you have any further enquiries, please do not hesitate to make contact with:

Michelle Gallaher – 07817 332717 or Alice Scorer – 07858 063250

A Letter from Father Peter, 14th May 2020

Dear parishioners and friends,

It is now over eight weeks that we have not been able to gather in our church for services, for the Divine Liturgy.

This must be very hard for many of us.  We are so used to coming to church on a Sunday, to receive the life-giving holy Gifts, the Body and Blood of our Saviour, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting.

I know that for many of us our coming together in the church is also a time of communion with each other.  Over the fifty years of our parish life, many of us have formed close bonds, friendships, and for many of you our church is also a home away from home.

Our church is a place of comfort, a source of healing, a true home, the home of our Lord, where we are in the presence of our Saviour, His blessed Mother and all His saints.

We are now having to live like the desert fathers, alone in our cells.  But this does not mean that we are alone.  We can be together in love and in our thoughts, but above all in our prayers. I encourage you all to pray for one another.

Please rest assured that you are all in my prayers, and if you have any special requests for prayer, or if you have names of people you would like me to add to the list of those I remember at the Divine Liturgy, which together with Irina I celebrate every Sunday, please do write to me or call me.

If you need to contact me for any reason, please do not hesitate to do so.,   Tel:  01392 278585, mob: 07811 128275

A reminder that three times a week the services which I take at home can also be seen on the parish Facebook page.

God willing, it may be possible, in the not too distant future, for us to gather together for prayer once again.

May God bless you all!

Father Peter

”On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of him (out of his belly) will flow rivers of living water.’  (Jn 7: 37-38)

And we can all have “rivers” flowing out of us of “living water,” – of compassion, kindness, wisdom, creativity, courage, patience, humility and love,  “Come and abide in us” today, Lord, as we choose to come and abide in You.

(Paraphrased from Vassa Larin).

Great and Holy Thursday – a letter from Fr. Peter

Beloved parishioners and friends,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

We are now moving into the final days of Christ’s passion, and more than ever we shall miss the possibility of gathering together in our church on Great and Holy Friday to witness the events leading to the Crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It will be painful for us to hear the words sung on Holy Thursday at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy: ‘Of Thy mystical supper, O Son of God, today admit me a partaker…’ when we cannot come to church and receive the Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

We shall not be able to come together to share in the Resurrection of Christ, to proclaim ‘Christ is Risen!’ and to embrace each other with the joy of this radiantly beautiful feast.

But do not despair. Remember that Christ stands knocking at the door of our hearts and of our homes. Remember how Zacchaeus, in one of the Sunday readings of preparation for the Fast invited Christ into his home, and Christ said to him, ‘Today is salvation come into this house..’ Remember also how the apostles, gathered together in a room in Jerusalem in fear, after the Resurrection, refused to believe that Christ had risen, and how He came into the room, even though the doors were closed. He is knocking at the door of our homes and our souls. Invite the risen Christ into your homes.

‘Did not the women who came to anoint him pause and “say nothing to anyone,” when the young man at the tomb told them to be apostles to the apostles? Did not the disciples in Emmaus ask how this could have happened before Jesus explained it all to them on a long walk? We love public drama, but God announced the good news of Jesus’ resurrection quietly – and it hinges on a word. And when Jesus does appear, it’s not through a grand entrance in a splendiferous temple – he appears among the dejected disciples in a room with locked doors. We are in good company today, and for however long this pandemic lasts. The love of God can pierce all hearts, through locked doors, through the hardened hearts of disciples who hid in fear, through the disruption caused by a pandemic. He is among us, even in our worst hour’. (Dcn. Nicholas Denysenko)

On Thursday morning, I shall celebrate the Divine Liturgy, commemorating the Last Supper. In the evening we shall read the twelve Gospel accounts of the passion of Christ. For those of you who have Facebook, I will be streaming some services on the Parish Facebook page, so that you can share in these. If you cannot see these services, try and read some of the Gospel readings and texts. You can find all the services and readings here:

I greet you all with the joyous Feast of the Resurrection of our Saviour. Christ has triumphed over hell, death no longer has any hold on us.


Christ is Risen from the dead, Trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs He has given life!

Христос Воскресе ! Χριστός Ανέστη ! Hristos a înviat !

With all my love and blessings

Father Peter

15 April 2020 _________________________________________________________________________________________

Holy Week from Home

Whilst we are unable to meet together to celebrate Holy Week services at St Anne’s or Combe Martin, there are ways that we can continue to celebrate and feel connected with the church community from the safety of our homes.

This delightful booklet entitled ‘Holy Week From Home’, published by the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of North America, gives lots of ideas and a guide to creating ‘a little church’ in our homes during Holy Week and beyond.

Father Peter will continue to post prayers, news and useful links on the Parish Facebook page (Orthodox Parish of the Holy Prophet Elias) and there are Orthodox services available to stream live on Facebook and You Tube. Links to some of these and other online resources can be found in the latest Parish Newsletter, dated 12th April.

A Letter from Fr. Peter

18 March 2020

Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in trouble; hear me speedily and : hearken unto my soul and deliver it”(Prokimenon, Sunday vespers in Lent)

Dearest parishioners and friends,

The depth of the crisis which confronts us these days, and in the weeks ahead cannot be over-exaggerated.

Many will without doubt fall ill, and with God’s help, will recover. But many of our community are extremely vulnerable, whether through age or by having underlying conditions that make the virus potentially lethal.

The word ‘crisis’ in Greek means judgement. We are called to live our Christian lives to the full, to love our neighbours, to care for the sick and those in need. We have to make sacrifices in our lives, even if this means refraining from going to public services in our churches, where we can unwittingly pass on the virus.

In view of this, there will be no more services in St Anne’s church for the foreseeable future. We will discuss the possibility of having the church open on Sunday mornings for private prayer, to light a candle. I will let you know if this can be arranged.

Irina and I have decided to isolate ourselves. But we do not want to lose contact with any of you.

If I can be of any help, or give any spiritual guidance insofar as I am capable, or want to ask for special prayers, or if you just want to chat, please do not hesitate to phone me, or write by email or any other social media:

01392 278585, 07811 128275,

When you have time, spend a few minutes in prayer. Pray for each other. Don’t forget the lenten prayer of St Ephrem. Read the Gospels. Keep yourselves and others safe.

I ask our Good Lord, the Father of Love, to bless you all.

Father Peter

Grant us, Lord, Thy peace and fill our hearts with steadfast faith in Thy protection, hope in Thy help and love for Thee and for our neighbour. For it is Thine to have mercy and to save us, O our God, and we give glory to Thee: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and always and in to the ages of ages. Amen

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom’. (Luke 12:32)

Visit of Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain and ordination of Protodeacon Peter Scorer to the priesthood

Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain is to visit St Anne’s on Saturday 1 February to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, during which he will ordain Protodeacon Peter Scorer to the priesthood.  This is a great day for our parish as well as for Peter and his family, and we are looking forward to welcoming a good number of our parishioners, together with friends from further afield.  

After the service there will be a buffet lunch in the Heritage Lounge at St James’s Park, the headquarters of Exeter City Football Club.  This is only 2 or 3 minutes’ walk from the church, and we will be able to use the on-site car park and toilets from 10.00am (the Liturgy is scheduled to begin at 10.30).

Thanks to a very generous donation the main part of the meal (a choice of savoury dishes together with wine/soft drinks) is being provided from outside sources, but for the sweet course we will be following our long-established parish tradition of ‘bring and share’.  Contributions for this may be delivered to the Heritage Lounge before the service — the entrance is clearly marked, and someone should be on hand to make sure they end up in the right place.

Parish AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the parish will be held at Jury’s Inn, Western Way, Exeter, on Sunday 10 November at approximately 1.00pm, following the Divine Liturgy at the usual time at St Anne’s.  As none of the present parish officers (Parish Warden, Secretary, Lay Representatives &c) are due for re-election this time there should be no need for elections.  Minutes of the 2018 AGM (actually held earlier this year) and the Agenda for this meeting will be circulated nearer the time.

A significant item will be discussion of the present position of our parish with regards to the effectual closure of the Archdiocese of which we have been a part for many years.  We need to decide whether the parish wishes to follow Archbishop John and join the Moscow Patriarchate, or to remain under the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Nikitas, Archbishop of Thyateira.

All whose names are on the Parish Electoral Roll are entitled to vote at the Meeting. You may wish to bring sandwiches; coffee and tea will be provided.

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