Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, a diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the body responsible for the Greek Orthodox Church in Great Britain and is headquartered in London. The Archdiocese is currently headed by His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain.
The first recorded organised Greek Orthodox community in England was established in 1670 by a group of 100 Greek refugees from Mani. There were also theologians, students, coffee shop owners, traders and sailors. Their priest was Daniel Boulgaris, who also seems to have taken the initiative to gain permission from the Bishop of London to build a permanent church for his growing flock. His efforts were boosted in 1676 by the arrival of the Archbishop of Samos, Joseph Georgerines, who had originally travelled to London to publish his Anthologion, "for the use of the Eastern Greek Church". Soon, the London authorities granted them permission to build a church. Georgerines then travelled around the country with his manservant, Dominikos Cratianas, to raise the necessary funds.
The church was inaugurated in 1677 in Soho and dedicated to the Panagia on what soon became Greek Street. However, the situation turned precarious when Dominicos Cratiana was taken to court by his master over the alleged disappearance of funds. Cratiana counteracted by accusing him of being a "Popish plotter".
The church was confiscated in 1684 and handed over to Huguenot refugees from France, much to the anger of the Greek Archbishop, who wrote and circulated a furious pamphlet which criticised this move and detailed how the English authorities had expropriated the community. He wrote that the community "never sold the said Church, nor received any sum for the building thereof". The church no longer stands but the dedicatory plaque that was embedded over the main entrance is now housed in the narthex of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Sophia in Bayswater.
During the next 150 years, the community had to worship in the Imperial Russian Embassy. Finally, in 1837, an autonomous community was set up in Finsbury Park in London. The first new church was built in 1850, on London Street in the City. In 1877, the Church of St Sophia (the Holy Wisdom) was constructed in London, in order to cope with the growing influx of Orthodox immigrants to the United Kingdom. By the outbreak of the First World War, there were large Orthodox communities in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Liverpool, each focused on its own church.
The issue of how these significant communities were to be governed was not resolved until 1922, when the Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios IV created the Diocese of Thyateira—named after the famous See of Thyateira in Asia Minor. Based in London, this diocese had jurisdiction over all Western Europe.
The Second World War and its aftermath saw a large expansion amongst the Orthodox Communities of Europe, necessitating the establishment of new dioceses in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.
Today, there are over 100 Orthodox communities in the United Kingdom. The Archdiocese comes under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who in turn has authority over four bishops and hundreds of priests and deacons. As is traditional within the Orthodox Church, the bishops have a considerable degree of autonomy within the Archdiocese.
List of archbishops of Thyateira and Great Britain
- Germanos (Strenopoulos) (1922-1951)
- Athenagoras (Kavadas) (1951-1962)
- Athenagoras (Kokkinakis) (1963-1979)
- Methodios (Fouyias) (1979-1988)
- Gregorios (Theocharous) (1988-present)
- Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia
- Chrysostomos (Mavroyiannopoulos) of Kyanea
- Theodoritos (Polyzogopoulos) of Nazianzos
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain
- His Eminence Gregorios, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain from the Orthodox Research Institute
- Theodore Edward Dowling. Hellenism in England: a short history of the Greek people in this country from the earliest times to the present day. Faith Press, 1915. 159 pp.