A Light in Bath: St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church

Avon River at Bath

“Oh! Who can be ever tired of Bath?”, writes Jane Austen. I think I get it. The highlight of a recent vacation in August, 2017 to the UK and Ireland was hands down Bath, England. Bath is some distance west and a bit to the south from London. Prior to my time in this city, I knew Bath for its famous Roman Baths, its cathedral, the lovely Avon River, and of course, Jane Austen (and, yes, there is a Jane Austen museum). I had seen photos and videos of all the above, its Georgian architecture, and surrounding countryside, but nothing compared to the actual experience of three days in the city.

Frs. Seraphim (L) and Irenaeus (R)

The highpoint of this short time in Bath was our time spent in worship and fellowship with the faithful of Bath’s Orthodox Church, St. John of Kronstadt. Months prior to our stay, I contacted its rector, Fr. Seraphim Johnson, informing him of our wish to attend and participate in the Divine Liturgy. (A priest from another diocese cannot simply walk into a church without his bishop’s permission, and that of the local bishop as well.) After a few e-mailings between all parties — all was set.

The faith community of St. John of Kronstadt dates back to the 1980s, and was founded by Fr. Yves Dubois, who was not present that day. In August of 2017, the parish met at St. Mathew’s (Church of England) where they had been for some time They are now located at St. John’s, Bathwick.

 

As with so many Eastern Orthodox parishes in North America, St. John of Kronstadt in Bath is made of primarily of converts, among them Fr. Seraphim and his wife Ann. Here, we met Orthodox Christians who share a similar story with me and my wife. Here, too, the spirit of this community resembled that of my own parish of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Tacoma, Washington, and so many other parishes in the Pacific Northwest whose faith and love I have encountered when serving in place of its own priest. There is such fellowship and similarity because all of these parishes long for the continuity, depth, and experience of centuries of Orthodox faith — the continuing faith of Apostles in Christ Jesus. In this ever more secular and darkened world such faith shines a light to the darkened, empty, and lifeless cities and countries in which they dwell.

Pacha Procession

Shine forth the light of Christ my brothers and sisters! Here is a link: http://www.bath-orthodox-church.co.uk



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