Frequently Asked Questions
What is Orthodox Christianity?
Orthodox Christianity, very simply, is that Faith that was believed, lived, and practised by the first Christians, and handed down to us in our present day through the Orthodox Church, tracing its lineage back through the Apostles and their successors to the Church of the New Testament. Before the divisions that led to the existence of multiple churches, known today as Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and so forth, all believing different things and worshipping God in their own ways, there was a single Church - the original Church of the Apostles and of the New Testament, the Church founded by Jesus Christ - and its faith and practice continue today in the Orthodox Christian Tradition.
We do not state this with pride or with a desire to belittle the experience of our sisters and brothers in other churches, with whom we share much and for whom we have great love, but rather with humble gratitude that we have been made heirs of this great treasure, and with an awareness of our responsibility to share it with the world.
Our Orthodox Faith is based not primarily on intellectual assent to a set of principles but rather on experiential participation in the life of the Holy Trinity through the Person of Jesus Christ.
You can learn more about what we believe here.
What are your services like?
At present, we are a new mission in formation. We do not yet have a priest so we do not have the Mass/Divine Liturgy. Our worship takes the form of the Divine Office, led by a subdeacon. This consists largely of the Psalms of David and other portions of Holy Scripture, along with prayers and hymns.
Orthodox worship is a multi-sensory experience, involving all of the human senses, engaging the whole human person - body, soul, and spirit - in the worship of God. As with all Orthodox services, our worship is sung almost in its entirety.
Our services are prayed in a dignified form of contemporary English. We pray the office using the ancient western chants, and we aim for full participation by all insofar as they are able.
Which calendar do you use?
In keeping with the practice of the wider Western Orthodox Church, we use the Gregorian Calendar for all fixed and moveable feasts.
For the time being, Pascha (Passover/Easter) is also calculated according to the Gregorian reckoning, as it is in the Orthodox Church of Finland, the Estonian Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. However, the bishops of our communion have resolved to adopt the method for calculating Pascha proposed by the World Council of Churches when it gains wider acceptance. This method is faithful to the principles established by the Holy and Great Council at Nicaea while avoiding the inaccuracies entrenched in all of the current methods.
To which jurisdiction do you belong?
St Melangell's is a mission of the Orthodox Church of the Gauls - a member of the Communion of Western Orthodox Churches.
Our existence as a distinct Western Orthodox church expresses the original vision for us espoused by the decree of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1936 and nurtured by St John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker, who was our bishop from 1959 until his falling asleep in 1966.
Today our bishop is his grace Bishop Gregory of Arles.
We recognise as sister churches the Eastern and Oriental churches. For us, the unity of the Orthodox Church is defined by its common faith and not by the ever-changing relationships between territorial jurisdictions.
Is your church Chalcedonian or non-Chalcedonian?
We confess the ancient faith of the Apostles, transmitted to us in the Holy Scriptures and the Three Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), and Ephesus (431).
We affirm all the doctrinal definitions of the four further Great Councils, believing in particular that the Christological formulations of Chalcedon explicitly render the doctrine of the Undivided Church complete.
We also accept the Councils of Constantinople of 1341 and 1351 which confirm the teaching of St Gregory Palamas on the Divine Light and the Uncreated Energies, as well as the whole doctrine and practice of Hesychasm.
While we accept the true theology of the holy councils named above, we reject all the unjust condemnations of people which may have been pronounced in the fiery heat of human passions. In particular, we reject any charges of “monophysitism” which have been wrongfully linked to our Oriental Orthodox sisters and brothers. In keeping with the Orthodox Joint Commission, we state that there are no fundamental differences of faith between the Orthodox Churches in spite of the misunderstanding of the Council of Chalcedon.