Archpriest Andrew Phillips – August 2016
As the Orthodox Christian population grows in England due largely to immigration but also to conversion, Fr. Andrew Phillips and his communities are working to keep up with the need for churches. Please read here his appeal for help in this regard.
Thirty-five years ago we desperately tried to establish a church in Cambridge. As a result of the total lack of support and vision from those in positions of responsibility, we failed. We could have bought a suitable building in the centrally-located Mawson Road for £8,000: to the shame of Orthodox that building became the Cambridge mosque, which it still is. Consequently, today, the Orthodox community in Cambridge still struggles to survive in a tiny, borrowed building: it would cost about £1,000,000 to buy anything suitable, even if something were available. A generation of Russian children (171 in the two Russian schools in Cambridge) are growing up without a Russian Orthodox church building.
Twenty-four miles to the east of Cambridge directly along the A14 main road lies Bury St Edmunds, where we have begun preparatory work to establish a community drawn from the Russian school, composed of 30 children, and among the parents. We have looked on the internet to find a suitable church building (as we did a year ago in Norwich, where thanks to the generosity of donors the new church will be completed and ready for services next week). There is nothing suitable in Bury St Edmunds.
However, between them, twelve miles from Cambridge and twelve miles from Bury St Edmunds, is the town of Newmarket. On the very edge of Newmarket, almost a suburb, just off the A14 main road, is the historic village of Exning (pop. 2,000), where St Audrey of Elywas probably born. (It was on her feast day, 23 June, that the Brexit vote took place this year). Here there is a former Methodist chapel for sale. With 150 square metres of chapel space, plus meeting rooms, kitchen and toilets, it could be obtained for £250,000. (This is without the piece of land next to it, not needed by us, which for is for sale for £100,000). We estimate conversion costs at £50,000 and we have a candidate for the priesthood.
We well understand that £300,000 is a huge sum. But it would be for a regional church in an excellent situation, between Cambridge (pop. 124,000), Bury St Edmunds (pop. 35,000), Haverhill (pop. 27,000), Thetford (pop. 25,000), Ely (pop. 18,000), Newmarket (pop. 15,000), Mildenhall (pop. 10,000) and surrounding villages, a catchment area of 300,000 within only a 15-mile radius, in all the towns of which there live Russian Orthodox. However unlikely, is there anyone there who could help us to obtain such a huge sum, £300,000, in order to buy the church in Exning and convert it for Orthodox use? See: