Embassy, Emigrants, and Englishmen
The Three-Hundred-Year History of a Russian Orthodox Church in London
by Christopher Birchall
This is a history of the Orthodox Church in the West, of the Russian emigration to Europe, and of major world events through the prism of a particular local community. The book calls on stories from an array of persons, from archbishops to members of Parliament and imperial diplomats to post-war refugees. Their lives and the constantly changing mosaic of global political and economic realities provide the background for the struggle to create and sustain the London church through time.
Founded in the early-18th century by a Greek Archbishop from Alexandria in Egypt, the church was aided by the nascent Russian Empire of Tsar Peter the Great and joined by Englishmen finding in it the Apostolic faith. The church later became a spiritual home for those who escaped the upheavals following World War II or who sought economic opportunities in the West after the fall of communism in Russia. For much of this time the parish was a focal point for Anglican–Orthodox relations and Orthodox missionary endeavors from Japan to the Americas.
...a long anticipated treatise which fills a large gap in historical and ecclesiastical studies concerning the Orthodox presence and activity in the West
...both ecclesiastical and secular historians will be grateful ... for this extensive presentation.
Archbishop of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
...the definitive history of Russian Orthodox presence in London…Birchall’s approach of structuring the book around the key figures of Russian religious life in London makes the book much more personal and engaging than it could have otherwise been. One could call it an iconic approach to history...Every parish should be so lucky to have such an outstanding chronicle of its memorable figures, transformations, struggles, and triumphs.
Christopher D.L. Johnson, PhD
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac
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...well-researched, eminently readable and authoritative...Father Christopher’s book is a model of how such histories should be written and it is not only to be hoped that he will turn his attention to other areas of British Orthodox history but will encourage others to emulate his meticulous and scholarly work.
Issue 126, Feb 2015