By: Louis Loizou
Over the past year and a half, Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain has actively sought out ways to grow his Archdiocese, even while the churches were closed and his faithful were in lockdown. As the whole world begins to emerge from the pandemic, albeit slowly, the seeds of ministry that have been planted by His Eminence are starting to bloom in the United Kingdom.
This was especially present on Saturday, June 26, 2021, as Archbishop Nikitas baptized and chrismated twelve adults into the Greek Orthodox faith at Saint Nektarios Church in Battersea, London. That following day, His Eminence presided over the Divine Liturgy at The Cathedral of Divine Wisdom, during which he also chrismated and received two more young adults. This occasion marked the first time that the Archdiocese collectively welcomed into its embrace so many individuals at once.
This momentous event in the life of the church is a direct result of the mission-oriented spirit of Archbishop Nikitas. Since March of last year, His Eminence has continuously called upon the clergy and lay faithful to assist in developing and growing the ministries of the Archdiocese, each according to their gifts, in order to address the challenges being faced in the United Kingdom.
While respecting health and safety protocols, Archbishop Nikitas remained present in the day-to-day lives of his flock through his consistent presence, many times virtual, at each of the meetings, events, and gatherings of the Archdiocese throughout the pandemic. He encouraged his clergy and lay leaders to do the same, and one of the most significant results came from a five-month catechetical course via Zoom entitled Discover Orthodoxy. In fact, it was through this new program of the Archdiocese that the 14 people mentioned above were newly received into the Orthodox Church. The online ministry itself was coordinated by the V. Rev. Archimandrite Nephon Tsimalis, Director of the Office of the Archbishop, through the historic Cathedral of Divine Wisdom in Bayswater, London.
The Archdiocese also launched other online programs, during this time, centered on increasing the religious literacy of its faithful. A formal Religious Education curriculum was provided for the youth and a more lecture-oriented program was offered to the adults, which featured a diverse group of Orthodox scholars and theologians from all over the world to discuss critical topics related to Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Each week, these programs brought together hundreds of people.
During each of these online programs, Archbishop Nikitas regularly promoted perhaps the dearest ministry to him personally, the Archdiocesan food bank housed at Saint Nektarios Church in Battersea. The food bank functions under the selfless leadership of the Rev. Fr. Christodoulos Christodoulou, aided by a team of extremely dedicated and capable volunteers. This charitable work has rallied the Hellenic communities of London in a special way and, in turn, has unified their collective efforts into a vibrant philanthropic ministry.
All of this, of course, brings to mind the pioneering ministry and philanthropic legacy of Archbishop Nikitas, especially while he served the Orthodox Church in Hong Kong. And now, as the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, he continues to teach, to feed, to protect, and to inspire everyone he encounters, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. The work of the Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, under both the leadership of Archbishop Nikitas and the spiritual guidance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has most certainly become a Spiritual Spring. For more information about ministries and to get involved, please visit www.thyateira.org.uk.