About the Diocese
Life and History of Our Diocese
Home of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora in Western Europe and the British Isles
The Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe has been the home of the Church Abroad’s presence in Europe since the beginnings of the Church Abroad itself, and today maintains its traditions of fostering every dimension of the life of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora across eleven countries.
Our Diocesan life encompasses two broad territories — on the one hand, the British Isles (comprising the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, together with the Republic of Ireland), and on the other, continental Western Europe (including France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Monaco and Portugal) — which have been at the heart of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora for centuries. This broad territory means that the Diocese, in addition to being multinational, is also multilingual, with parishes serving and communicating in Russian, French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch and Welsh.
The Diocesan Cathedral, dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Holy Royal Martyrs, is in London and is the principal cathedra of the Bishop of London and Western Europe, who governs the Diocese with aid of his vicar, the Bishop of Vevey. The Chancellery of the Diocese is located in Wallasey in the north of England and, at the direction of the Bishop, coordinates the administration of the Diocese as a whole. Given the extent of the Diocese’s territory, the customary work of its Diocesan Council is augmented by two regional councils — one for the British Isles and one for Continental Western Europe — which permit a dedicated focus on the pastoral and missionary needs of each broad region.
The Church Abroad in the Unity of the Russian Orthodox Church
The administrative structure of our Church Abroad’s presence in Europe has changed several times over the course of the past century, with these territories sometimes governed as a single unit (a singular diocese), sometimes as vicarial regions within a broader diocese, and sometimes as separate dioceses. While for the previous thirty years the ‘British Diocese’ and the ‘European Diocese’ were distinct entities, from September 2018 the Holy Synod once again united them together under one Ruling Bishop, creating a common scope for mission, pastoral care and life as the Church Abroad continues her growth into a new century.
The signing of the ‘Act of Canonical Communion’ in May 2007 brought together the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church that had been separated since the time of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia — restoring the full bonds of fraternal love between the God-renewed church within Russia and the hundreds of parishes of the Church Abroad, scattered across the world. In 2017 we celebrated ten years since this God-provided restoration of full unity within our Church, and marked with joy the strong relationships that now exist between the ROCOR and Patriarchal parishes and dioceses throughout the world. Within our own Diocese, we enjoy the closest of relationships with the various dioceses of the Patriarchate in these regions.
Our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is, within the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole, a self governing church with its own Synod of Bishops, headquartered in New York. Its First Hierarch is His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, and the ROCOR includes Dioceses in the United States of America, Canada, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand — and of course our own Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe, together with our sister Diocese of Germany, which also covers Austria and the Scandinavian nations. In all our territories, the ROCOR bears witness to traditions inherited from Holy Russia’s pre-revolutionary history, with its own liturgical and pastoral customs that form an important, unique part of the vibrant witness of Russian Orthodox unity throughout the world. Its century-long history as a church in the Diaspora means that we are wholly committed to the life of Orthodoxy that embraces the cultures surrounding us in various parts of the world. The ROCOR has always had, and continues to have, a vibrant missionary spirit, and seeks both to support Russian Orthodox Christians outside Russia, and to spread the Gospel of Christ to the peoples of a wide range of countries, drawing all people into the Church of Christ, the Faith of the Apostles, and the Life of the Holy Fathers.
We maintain a special section of this website dedicated to the History of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which we invite you to peruse for further information.
Find out more about our Diocese’s presence in the British Isles and in Continental Western Europe
Find out more about how our Diocese is structured and administrated through its eleven nations
Full directory of Diocesan parishes and missions, grouped by country
Contact details for all Priests and Deacons of Diocesan parishes and institutions