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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
With the blessing of Bishop George, our parish rector will be making a fifth pastoral visit to the New South Wales Mid North Coast on the weekend of Saturday-Sunday 28-29 November. There will be an adult baptism on the Saturday, and on Sunday, the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and the day of commemoration of the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, Divine Liturgy will be served in Coffs Harbour. The Russian Orthodox community on the Mid North Coast is under the heavenly protection of Saint Symeon of Verkhoturye. Those interested are welcome to contact us. It is hoped that in 2021 there will be services on the Mid North Coast in January, May, August and October.
On Thursday 3 December and Friday 4 December we will have services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves will be served at 6.00pm on Thursday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 8.00am on Friday. Provided that numbers do not exceed 30, attendance at the Sunday 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. Those wishing to attend Divine Liturgy on Monday should register by emailing
On Saturday 5 December and Sunday 6 December we will have services for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, for the Afterfeast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple, and in honour of Holy and Right-Believing Great Prince Alexander Nevsky (+1263 AD). 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.
Our Summer 2020-21 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2020-21 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2020-21 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies in both languages are available in church as of Sunday 15 November. NOTE: As of 14 November 2020, the number of people able to be present at all services in our church remains restricted by New South Wales Government public health orders to thirty (30). In view of this, attendance at Sunday services will continue to be by invitation only. Those wishing to attend one of the weekday Divine Liturgies on 4 December, 19 January, or 15 February should express interest in doing so by emailing email@example.com. Those wishing to attend a Christmas service should express interest in either the evening or the morning service, but not both. As attendance at evening services is generally low, all other evening services remain open to those who wish to attend. Please check this website regularly for changes in attendance arrangements.
On Saturday 14 November and Sunday 15 November we had services for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Martyrs Acindynus and his companions of Persia (+341-345 AD). All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Prayers for deliverance from the coronavirus were offered at Divine Liturgy. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, prayers of blessing were read over new deacon’s vestments, a gold sticharion and a beautiful orarion with embroidered icons, both items the work of the sisters of Saint Elizabeth Convent in Minsk, Belarus. At the end of the service, the parish rector presented the newly-blessed vestments to Protodeacon Martin Naef. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
On Saturday 17 October and Sunday 18 October we had services for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Righteous John, the Wonderworker of Kronstadt (+1908). All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Prayers for deliverance from the coronavirus were offered at Divine Liturgy. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the life and teachings of Saint John of Kronstadt. Attendance at the services remained restricted by public health regulations to a total of thirty people.
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.
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.