Saint Panteleimon's is an Orthodox Christian parish of Russian tradition serving the New South Wales Central Coast and the northern suburbs of Sydney. We are a parish of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Established in 2000, our parish is one of the newest in our Diocese.
Updated 8 August 2020: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it are having a profound impact on social interaction around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this. Our parish takes this public health risk seriously and is strictly complying with the directives of the civil authorities in this country including limits on the number of people present at services and registration of attendance. We have introduced sanitary measures including the provision of hand sanitiser at the entry to the church; discouraging people from kissing the Holy Gospel, the icons, the chalice, the Cross, and the hand of the priest; cleaning icons regularly with methylated spirits; anointing the faithful with disposable cotton swabs rather than a single brush; the provision of disposable napkins for use when receiving Holy Communion; the provision of disposable cups from which to receive the warm water and wine (“zapivka”) after Holy Communion; and the cancellation of our usual “cup of tea” after services. In addition, we have marked places on the floor in church to help worshippers maintain appropriate distance from one another and note that the NSW Department of Health recommends the wearing of face masks in places of religious worship. We have registered as a COVID-safe place of worship. Our parish COVID-19 Saftey Plan, relevant statements from church authorities, public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes are available here.
Updated 8 August 2020: It is important to understand that our church is not yet fully open for public services. New South Wales law limits the number of people who can be in our church for services to 30. This is because the total area of our church, hall and choir loft is just under 130 squares metres, and there must be four square metres per person for social distancing to be maintained. We do not anticipate this changing before the end of 2020.
In our parish approximately 80 people attend Sunday services regularly – that is, at least once every two months. Some of these people – our priest, deacon, and choir conductor – must be present at every service. Others are also required at morning services – singers, servers, and those who sell candles and maintain cleanliness and order in the church. Our parishioners with experience in these roles have been organised into two alternating teams of four singers, two servers and four helpers. As we have fortnightly services, these people will have the opportunity to be in church on one Sunday morning each month.
The rest of our parishioners and regular worshippers have now been divided into six teams of approximately eighteen people. The initial arrangements were for four teams, but this proved inadequate. Those assigned to one of the six teams will have the opportunity to be in church on one Sunday morning every three months.
It is understood that this is extremely limiting and that most of our parishioners will have much less opportunity to be in church than they would like. In addition, those who are in church and who generally sing in the choir may not be able to do so, the number of places in the choir being limited to four.
Matushka Marie is managing our attendance arrangements. Early in the week before each Sunday service, she will send an invitation to the members of the team that is scheduled to attend. Those invited will be asked to confirm their attendance. To the extent possible, any vacancies that arise will be allocated to others who have expressed an interest in attending on that day.
For the parish to be compliant with Government requirements, all those attending will need to be in good health, maintain distancing in church, and agree to have their attendance recorded. The NSW Department of Health recommendation that face masks be worn in places of religious worship should be noted. A person will not be considered be in good health if they are suffering from a fever, cough, a sore or "scratchy" throat, loss of smell or taste, a runny nose, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, or recent unexplained onset of shortness of breath, muscle pain or joint pain. Those who have recently travelled overseas or interstate or who may have had contact with known cases of COVID-19 should comply with public health directives concerning testing and self-isolation. If anyone is unwell or unwilling to comply with these requirements, they should not accept an invitation to attend.
Those wishing to receive Holy Communion are asked to attend the service on the preceding evening and to take the opportunity to confess then rather than immediately before Divine Liturgy when the time of the parish priest is extremely limited. Exceptions will be made for those who have a significant distance to travel or who have no means of getting to church in the evening.
There will be a sheet at the candle-desk on which to record attendance and contact details. Care should be taken to sign in upon arrival at church. The completed attendance sheets will be stored securely, retained for four weeks, and only released to the NSW Chief Health Officer if required for the purpose of contact-tracing should there be an instance of community transmission of COVID-19.
As attendance at evening services is generally low, these services are open to all who wish to attend. Similarly, as attendance at weekday services is also low, places are expected to be available to all who register in advance.
If you attend services less frequently than once every two months or if we do not have your contact details, you may not have been placed in a team. This can be rectified.
To find out which team you are in, to express interest in filling a vacancy at a Sunday service, or to register attendance at a weekday service, please email email@example.com. We ask that questions about attendance not be directed to Father James personally, but that this email address be used. We also ask for your continued patience and understanding as we try and facilitate church attendance on Sundays for as many of our parishioners and friends as possible.
Updated 13 May 2020: Many people have asked how they can continue to materially support our parish during the period of restricted church attendance. Donations may be made directly to our bank account:
St Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Community of Gosford
BSB: 032-596 Account number: 140923
May the Lord bless you!
On Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November we will have services for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Righteous John, the Wonderworker of Kronstadt (+1908). All-night vigil will be served at 6.00pm on Saturday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Sunday. It is important to note that attendance at Divine Liturgy on Sunday is by invitation only. Provided that numbers do not exceed 30, attendance at the Saturday evening service is open to all who wish to attend. The NSW Department of Health recommendation that face masks be worn in places of religious worship should be noted.
On Saturday 17 October and Sunday 18 October we had services for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Hierarchs and Wonderworkers of Moscow: Peter (+1326), Alexius (+1378), Jonah (+1461), Macarius (+1563), Philip (+1569), Job (+1607), Hermogenes (+1612), Philaret (+1867), Innocent (+1879), Macarius (+1926), Tikhon (+1925) and Peter (+1937). All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke about the history of the commemoration of the Holy Hierarchs of Moscow; the life and service of Metropolitan Innocent, Patriarch Tikhon, and Metropolitan Peter; and the priceless inheritance that we have as children of the Russian Orthodox Church. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
On Tuesday 13 October and Wednesday 14 October we had services for the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God. All-night Vigil was served on Tuesday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Wednesday morning. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people. Many of those present took the opportunity to receive Holy Communion. Following the dismissal the parish rector congratulated Matushka Marie on her recent name-day (12 October, Saint Mary of Palestine), thanking her for her work conducting the choir, baking prosphora, and organising attendance in both our parish and the Wallsend parish. Many Years was sung for her, and Head Sister Nina Golovin presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
On Saturday 3 October and Sunday 4 October we had services for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost and the Leave-taking of the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday those present venerated the Holy Cross before it was returned to the altar. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
On Monday 21 September, the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, we learned with sadness of the sudden repose that morning of our oldest parishioner, Tetyana Gerasimovna Silis. Tetyana, a first cousin to Metropolitan Hilarion, was less than one month from her ninety-fourth birthday. Her funeral was served in our church on Saturday 26 September. She was afterwards laid to rest at Point Clare Cemetery. We offer heartfelt condolences to Tetyana’s only child, her daughter Lilija, and to her grandson Leonid. May God grant her rest with the saints, and make her memory to be eternal!
On Sunday 20 September and Monday 21 September we had services for the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Sunday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Monday morning. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
On Saturday 19 September and Sunday 20 September we had services for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, the Forefeast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and in honour of Martyr Sozon of Cilicia (+ 304 AD). All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy, the Prayer in Time of Devastating Epidemic was offered and the newly-baptised Isla McDougall received Holy Communion for the first time. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
On 13 September the parish rector baptised James Janson, the infant son of Thomas and Valentina Janson. James, whose sponsors were Alexander Aksyonov and Anastasia Aksyonova, was baptised in honour of Apostle James, brother of the Lord. We warmly congratulate Thomas, Valentina, Alexander and Anastasia, and wish the newly-baptised servant of God James many years!
On Saturday 12 September the parish rector baptised Isla McDougall, the three year-old daughter of Igor Turkin and Chloe McDougall. Isla, who was baptised in honour of Martyr Vasilissa of Egypt, had as her sponsors Maria Martynyuk, Kaye Weston, and Sebastian Reid. We warmly congratulate Igor, Chloe and the godparents, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Isla many years!
In late 2017 our Parish Council resolved to undertake two major improvements to our parish centre in West Gosford: the construction of a mezzanine floor and choir loft, and the design and installation of a new iconstasis. Work on the mezzanine floor was commenced in mid-2018 and completed in mid-2019. On the recomendation of the parish rector, Moscow-based iconographer Maria Burganova-Yaltanskaya was then commissioned to design a new iconostasis. Information about Maria and examples of her work can be viewed here and here. Her final design can be viewed here. This design was accepted by the Parish Council in August 2020 and a plan for the production and installation of the new iconostasis is now being developed.
On Saturday 5 September and Sunday 6 September we had services for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Hieromartyr Eutchyes, the disciple of Apostle John the Theologian (+ First C. AD). All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy, the Prayer in Time of Devastating Epidemic was offered. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
On Tuesday 18 August and Wednesday 19 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Tuesday evening and Divine Liturgy with the blessing of grapes, apples and other fruit was served on Wednesday morning.
The September 2020 issue of “Word of the Church” (“Церковное Слово”), the official journal of the Australian-New Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, has recently become available in our parishes. As usual, it contains a number of interesting articles in both Russian and English. This issue includes the Russian-language text of the Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion on the fiftieth anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Herman of Alaska; the Russian and English texts of the Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion to Participants in ROCOR Centenary celebrations in Sydney in July 2020 organised by the Two-Headed Eagle Society; the text of episcopal circulars and decrees; a ‘Homily on the Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross’ by Saint Theodore the Studite; a moving article by Matushka Karen Baker reflecting on the coronavirus pandemic and on the death of her husband in a motor vehicle accident, leaving her a young widow with six children; and others. Copies are $5.00.