Funding a full-time parish-priest

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During our recent parish meeting we discussed the problems faced by Father Mark in combining care for the parish with his secular employment as a support-worker for Mencap.

Over time, duties and expectations have expanded and we have recently experienced clashes which have had a direct effect on his ability to serve us on both the Saturday and Sunday services, in addition to the expectation that he will be on-call and available throughout the week as our parish-priest – despite the fact that he is working more than full-time hours. 

Further, this has a very serious effect on Father’s health as he is, in effect, trying to work two full-time jobs, at a time when the parish is growing and when there is a growing need for pastoral work within our very widely-dispersed community.

Therefore, it was decided that, as a parish, we would investigate the possibility of supporting our parish priest with a ‘stipend’ (clergy salary), by raising enough specific donations to contribute towards this.

As I announced from the amvon, at the end of last week’s Liturgy, we have been successful in securing donation-commitments to provide a very basic stipend allowing us to formally offer Father Mark the role of solely being our parish-priest, free from secular employment. Therefore, we are currently preparing the formal paperwork to ensure that he is able to resign from secular work to concentrate on full-time work as rector of our parish.

Thank you to everyone who has come forward to make this possible. 

For those who have made commitments to donate and for those who have not committed, but also wish to donate towards the stipend-fund – even if only occasionally – please see the information below to ensure that:

1) you are able to donate securely and easily.

2) we are where possible able to reclaim ‘gift aid’ from the government to top-up the donations.

3) we can identify the donation as a specific contribution towards the stipend.

Commitments to donate towards the stipend

If you would like to donate specifically towards the stipend please could you inform Deacon Mark, so that your intention is registered on our admin system.

We simply need the following information:

1) your name.

2) the amount you wish to donate specifically toward the stipend.

3) the frequency of your donation.

4) if you would prefer to donate by bank transfer or cash.

5) whether we are able to register you for Gift Aid.

We all know that life can be unpredictable at any time and especially in the current circumstances, so please If should any circumstance arise affecting your ability to continue donations, or need to alter your donation, please make Deacon Mark aware, so that aware so that our systems may be adjusted. 

Importantly, we do not want anybody to put themselves in undue pressure or financial stress.

Donations by Bank Transfer

Donations may be made directly into the parish bank account at any time during the month to suit your circumstances. The parish bank details are:

Account Name: Cardiff Russian Orthodox Church

Sort Code: 01 – 01 – 55

Account No: 17716985

Donations by Cash

Cash donations may be made at any of the month’s services, but in order for us to ensure financial clarity and prevent confusion, please direct your donation to its intended purpose with the following procedure:

1) place your donation into an envelope.

2) write your name and ‘Stipend Donation’ on the envelope.

3) place your envelope in any of the collection plates.

By your doing this, we will be able to ensure that the cash is counted with a witness and then passed to Deacon Mark for banking and recording in the donation register.

Gift Aid

In order to maximise your donations, the government will allow us to claim ‘Gift Aid’ on all eligible donations. This means that the government will give the parish an additional 25% on top of your donation at no cost to you – and, yes, this really is free money!

There are specific conditions to make this possible. These are:

1) that the donor is a UK resident.

2) the donor is a UK Taxpayer (e.g. you pay p.a.y.e on your salary, tax on a pension, or capital gains on an investment);

3) the donor is donating on their own behalf and not on behalf someone else.

4) the donor has completed and signed a ‘Gift Aid’ form, allowing the parish to claim the money from the government.

If you have not filled in a gift aid form, please use the following link that will allow you to download a form for you to complete:

https://russianorthodoxchurchcardiff.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/ROCOR-Cardiff-Parish-Gift-Aid-Form.pdf

Alternatively, if you are unable to print the form above, please let Deacon Mark know and he will ensure you receive one at the next service.

Questions

If anyone has any questions please contact Deacon Mark by email rmfisher@ntlworld.com or mobile 07790 031375 and he will do his best to answer and resolve them for you.

With much love in Christ,

Deacon Mark

Greetings on the Feast of the Protecting Veil

Dear all,

I know that it is rather late in the day, but nightshifts make my days back to front and upside down. However, despite the hour, I greet you all and wish you a blessed and holy feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God.

We have so many feasts celebrating the events of her life and her wonder-working icons, but this feast is a concrete celebration of that wonderful reality that is her ‘protection’; a mother’s instinct to protect her children; and the wonder is that there is no limit to the children who can find shelter under her omophorion.

We remember the vision of St Andrew the Fool in the Church of Blachernae, and the Mother of God’s protection of the Imperial City from the siege of the Avars and Persians in 626, but more than that – we celebrate the Mother of God as our constant protection, and as the mother who cares for us, as her children.

The earliest Christian hymn to the Mother of God is one that is very precious for us, and one which we – as a parish dedicated to the Theotokos – hear each week during clergy communion – “Beneath thy mercy… Pod tvoyu milost…”

Beneath thy mercy we take refuge, O Virgin Theotokos: disdain not our supplications in our distress, but deliver us from perils, O only pure and blessed one.

The history of this glorious hymn, celebrating the Protection of the Mother of God, shows how the Christians across the breadth of the ancient world came together to place themselves beneath the Protecting Veil of her love and mercy, with the Mother of God being a source of unity for Christians of every race and nation.

The earliest manuscript comes from the Coptic Christmas Liturgy and is written on a third-century papyrus. The hymn is part of the Armenian, Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman Rites (with a few variant words), and was so ingrained in the hearts and souls of the children of the Russian Orthodox Church, that when the service-texts were reformed in the mid 17th century, the faithful still clung to the original Slavonic text of their forebears.

Подъ твою милость, прибѣгаемъ богородице дѣво, молитвъ нашихъ не презри в скорбѣхъ. но ѿ бѣдъ избави насъ,едина чистаѧ и благословеннаѧ.
 
As we celebrate this feast, let us not only think of ourselves, but with fervent prayers of intercession take our loved-ones, friends, neighbours… and even enemies to the Protection of the Mother of God – asking her to mercifully be their refuge; to come to them in their distress; to hear our supplications for them; to deliver them from perils. And – let us commend those who do not even know the motherhood of the Theotokos to her Protection and intercession. This is the glory of the fifteen decades of prayers, we call the Rule of the Mother of God – offered to her for the intention of others, knowing the power of a mother’s intercession before the Lord of Glory.

Our Lady has become a mirror of God’s boundless and immeasurable love, desiring the salvation and restoration of all of God’s people – not just Christians, but all people, created in the image of likeness of God.

At the foot of the Cross, when the Saviour commended her to St John, with the words “Behold thy mother”, He spoke to the whole of humanity – humanity which was the gift of the Mother of God to our Saviour, who then commended her to us, and who – in the course of time – received His Mother into the glory of heaven, from where she watches over us, protects us, visits us, and works countless miracles.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

May God bless you on this wonderful feast.

In Christ –  Hieromonk Mark

Services this coming weekend…

Dear brothers and sisters,

This coming weekend, we look forward to welcoming you to our services in Cheltenham and Cardiff.

On Saturday, the Parish of the Holy Great Prince, Vladimir, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Prestbury United Reformed Church at 10:00, with confessions being heard from 09:15. A bring-and-share lunch will follow the service. For details, see:

https://www.facebook.com/events/318974696658162/?notif_id=1634111239416862&notif_t=page_share&ref=notif

As we are unable to celebrate the Protecting Veil  – the feast of Pokrov – with a Liturgy tomorrow, we will celebrate the Protection on Saturday, blessing the little chapel in Prestbury with another feast of the Mother of God.

On the clergy’s return to Cardiff, we will chant compline in Cardiff at 16:30, with the canon to the Protection of the Mother of God, and we will then celebrate the Hours and Liturgy on Sunday morning at 11:00. As usual, confessions will begin as soon as we have entry to the Church, around 10:15.

The following weekend 23/24 St John’s is unavailable on either Saturday afternoon, or Sunday at the usual time. Though we would be able to celebrate the Liturgy at 06:00 (as I had previously hoped), there will be no chance to hear confessions, given the Saturday situation.

Given this combination of difficulties, we will – regrettably – be unable to celebrate in Cardiff, but will join Father Luke for his first public Swansea Liturgy, in the Vivian Hall, 82 Mumbles Rd, Black Pill, Swansea SA3 5AS.

So… those who would like a seaside Liturgy, are encouraged to journey to Swansea Bay and be a part of the ROCOR celebration for Swansea, Llanelli and West Wales. If you are able to support the Swansea-Llanelli parish, please try to ensure that spare seats in your car are offered to other parishioners who do not have their own transport. May we also ask the same of anyone who is able to support the Cheltenham Liturgy?

I will post details of the Swansea Liturgy once I have spoken to Father Luke.

Finally – I encourage you all to celebrate the feast of the Protecting Veil / Pokrov in your homes tomorrow, and celebrate the Protection of the Mother of God with joy and hope!

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Services in Cardiff this weekend: 9/10 October.

Despite it being the second Saturday of the month, there will be no Cheltenham Liturgy, as the United Reformed Church is unavailable. Cheltenham Liturgy will be on Saturday 16 October.

Compline will be celebrated at St John’s, as usual, at 16:30 with confessions being heard during the service.

The Divine Liturgy and Hours will be celebrated on Sunday at 11:00.

Would those requiring Sunday confession please contact me – otetzmark@hotmail.com – so that we have some idea of how many are confessing. We need to consider how we manage this, as there is presently insufficient time for everything that needs to be done before the beginning of Liturgy.

Please consider preparing food for our post-Liturgy ‘social’, being mindful that some of our faithful have a very early start and long journeys to and from the Liturgy.

Liturgy variables:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iheXDdQHfvzlTpMuJzqVn7gXKn5gbuF_/view

The Leave-Taking of the Exultation of the Cross

The last two weeks have been very busy for the parish, with additional confessions at every moment possible around each Sunday’s Liturgy and an encouraging number of communicants.

The excellent attendance for the Leave-Taking of the Exultation of the Cross was reflected in the time it took for the faithful to venerate the Cross, and to be anointed with oil from Godenovo.

As with other feasts of the Cross, it was wonderful to see so many of the faithful venerate the Cross as the choir chanted Krestu Tvoemu (We venerate Thy Cross), and to see new faces and have parishioners from the entire geographical spread of our parishes: from the West Wales Coast to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Following the final veneration of the Cross for the feast this year, a memorial service was chanted on behalf of two of the Welsh-Romanian families who are friends of the parish, and we thank them for their generosity in preparing gift bags in memory of their departed, so that all of our worshipers benefitted from their generosity, and they were kind enough to send a bag for Fr Luke who was celebrating in Llanelli.

It was a special joy to administer Holy Communion to baby Joachim, on his first visit since his baptism in the Romanian Orthodox parish in Coventry, and to see our previously ‘trainee’ oltarnik, Alexander, don a stikharion for the first time.

We now have the benefit of two Marks and two Alexanders in the sanctuary each week, and will happily welcome another John or Oswald to make further pairs! Today also saw little Yuriy’s first assignment, carrying an acolyte candle (having rejected the intended large taper!), which is quite impressive feat for a three-and-a-half-year-old.

We were glad to be able to thank our outgoing starosta, Alyona, for her labours on behalf of our parish, mindful that her wardenship saw the parish enter a very collaborative and positive period of community-life. We are indebted to her for her labours, especially in being so warm and welcoming to the many non-Slavs and converts in our community. She has always made it clear that our parish is built on Faith, not language or national identity. Alyona, we thank you for your poslushaniya, love and great support!

As always, our thanks go to all who made the Leave-Taking of the feast of the Exultation of the Cross such a prayerful, joyful and sociable celebration.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Cardiff-London-Cheltenham-Cardiff… the week so far!

Dear parishioners and friends,

Here we are on the eve of our next Cardiff Liturgy, after a busy week for the clergy serving our mission in Wales and Gloucestershire.

Monday saw Deacon Mark and I journey to London to celebrate the altar-feast of our cathedral – the Nativity of the Mother of God – and we were pleased to have Cardiff parishioners join in our cathedral celebrations on Monday evening and on Tuesday. It was a joy to share the celebration with our bishops and cathedral-clergy and to have time with our many friends in Chiswick.

From the cathedral, we returned to a busy week of secular work, looking forward to visiting Cheltenham today, where Deacon Mark and I were pleased to be able to serve the Liturgy for the Leave-Taking of the Nativity of the Mother of God. Though it was only at a few days’ notice, we were able to arrange the use of the United Reformed Church in Prestbury. Thanks to Deacon Mark and Cheltenham parishioners for their efforts in searching for an alternative Liturgy venue to All Saints, Pittville.

The simplicity and bareness of the old chapel was in marked contrast to the Gothic Revival splendour of All Saints, but though we very much missed our usual surroundings, we were grateful to have somewhere to temporarily celebrate the Liturgy, and enjoy time together over lunch before returning to Cardiff.

We will be organising our next Cheltenham Liturgy over the next few days and will give ample notice, as some of our Cardiff and Wiltshire faithful wish to support the Cheltenham mission, with the hope to expand its life to embrace our parishioners in Swindon, Wiltshire and Bath.

Back in Cardiff, having unloaded the car, confessions were heard during compline in St John’s in Canton this evening, with added entertainment by the church-mouse’s active perambulations during the evening office.

We look forward to returning to Cardiff for Liturgy in the morning, when we will celebrate the Forefeast of the Exultation of the Life-Giving Cross.

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Leave-Taking of the Dormition

Dear brothers, sisters and friends of our Cardiff and Cheltenham parishes,

The Liturgy in Cardiff today was greatly blessed by the addition of Father Luke to the celebrating clergy, much to the joy of those who have not seen him for a considerable time, with parishioners from deepest Wiltshire thinking they might drive all the way to West Wales to see him.

Father Luke was a very great help today, given parishioners had travelled from Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swansea, and all required confession.

We congratulate all who partook of the Holy Mysteries on this Leave-Taking of the feast of the Dormition, when at the end of Liturgy, after the chanting of the encomia and velichanie for the Dormition, the plashchanitsa of the Mother of God was returned to the sanctuary.

Sunday was also the feast of St Irenaeus of Lyons and Bishop Irenei was greeted for his nameday by telephone yesterday evening, as he was leaving church after the vigil in our parish in Lyons. After the dismissal today’s Liturgy, we chanted Mnogaya Leta for our bishop, with an icon of St Irenaeus, written within the parish, being blessed before presentation to His Grace when the clergy visit the cathedral for its altar-feast: the Nativity of the Mother of God.

I was also very pleased to bless an icon of St Andrei Ufimsky by the hand of the same iconographer, and will be cherishing this in my cell.

The parish received a wonderful blessing this week, as our Chancellor, Archpriest Paul, commended the old candlestands from ROCOR‘s former Bradford parish the care of our community, and we were able to put them into use, knowing that these humble stands had been used in the worship of the Russian Church Outside of Russia since 1946. We sincerely hope they will still be in use in another seventy-five years.

In addition to visiting Wallasey and the Parish of St Elizabeth this week, Father Deacon Mark and I have also had the pleasure of visiting Vladika Irenei in London and the Cheltenham parish yesterday, so it has been a very busy week with significant mileage. To add to this, Deacon Mark is driving to Heathrow to meet matushka Alla and Yuriy who are on their return journey from Crimea at this very moment.

Though matushka and Yuriy are still in transit, other parishioners have arrived home, and it was lovely to have faithful back from Ukraine and Russia and to celebrate the Liturgy and the end of our ‘Summer Pascha’ with them.

As I explained at Liturgy, a very difficult work rota for me will make confessions a challenge this week, but I hope that it will be possible to hear confessions on Thursday. Given the challenges of the week, may I ask all requiring confession, and who are able to do so on Thursday to contact me by Wednesday lunchtime (indicating any time that you would NOT be available that day), so that I may endeavour to make arrangements: otetzmark@hotmail.com 

Given that next Sunday’s Liturgy is followed by a General Parish Meeting, it will only be possible to hear a few confessions before Liturgy, and there will be no possibility to hear either long confessions, or confessions after Liturgy. I am sorry, but on top of my work rota, the meeting makes this unavoidable. Also, there will be no Saturday evening service.

As always, our thanks go to everyone who made our celebrations in Cardiff and Cheltenham possible this weekend, particularly our servers and singers, and our sisters who prepared the food enjoyed by our hungry and appreciative faithful.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

“O taste and see…” – the Blessing and Enjoyment of God’s Gifts

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, as we celebrated the after-feast of the Transfiguration (the Apple Saviour / Яблочный Спас), it was satisfying to pick apples only half an hour before today’s Liturgy, with the morning dew still glistening on the leaves and fruit on the trees in the chaplaincy garden.

As the Hours and Liturgy progressed baskets and bowls of fruit multiplied on the table placed behind the stand bearing the festal and Kazan icons.

At the end of every Liturgy, during the singing of Psalm 33, we hear the words “O taste and see, the Lord is good.” The folk names of these feasts of the All-Merciful Saviour and the Transfiguration bear witness to this as we bless the gifts of God’s creation and receive them as a blessing from Heaven.Continue reading

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you all who contributed to today’s Liturgy, and a joyful celebration of the feast of St Seraphim, and thank you to our parishioners who sent greetings from their holidays in Russia and Ukraine!Continue reading