The Last First Step

by Stephen Brannen Back in 2011 I started writing a series of posts entitled “According to the Whole” which was focused on exploring the issue of Christian disunity and where I was looking for possible solutions. The posts were personal and were informed by my own intellectual and experiential journey, but they weren’t overtly autobiographical. I used them to ask questions, make diagnoses, and offer prescriptions in a general sense, but I didn’t use them to tell much of my story. Now my story which spawned those questions and thoughts has reached a definitive point, even a conclusion of sorts, and I want to finally tell it. I was born to … [Read more...]

A First In Oxford Since 1066

Oxford's Keble College played host to a very special ceremony when it welcomed Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, of the Russian Orthodox Church. When His Grace celebrated a Western Orthodox Episcopal Liturgy on Friday, it was the first time the service had been held in the UK since 1066. Before then the church in the UK was Orthodox, but the Norman Conquest saw the Roman church take over. Father Stephen Platt, parish priest at the Russian Orthodox church St Nicholas the Wonderworker in Marston, Oxford, said: “Orthodox services generally have an Eastern origin, while Catholic and Anglican churches have services which originate in Ancient … [Read more...]

Cannon Street’s Spiritual Heaven

Monasteries are in short supply these days, but three out-of-country monks have now found peace, quiet and prayer nine times a day at a new haven on Cannon Street East. These monks don't mind if you stop by. Somebody did visit on behalf of an online review site called Mystery Worshippers. The guest complains about "a spate of sirens" during the service. But on comfort, he reports "it was probably the best pew I've ever experienced." And how did the service make him feel? "Ecstatic and, dare I say, a little envious of Orthodox Christians." So I'm off to Mass, on that struggling stretch of Cannon, just west of Wentworth, … [Read more...]

From Catholic Priest To Orthodox Pioneer

Julius Joseph Overbeck was a Roman Catholic priest who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and became a pioneer of Western Rite Orthodoxy. The modern re-emergence of an Orthodox Western Rite begins in 1864 with the work of former Catholic priest Julius Joseph Overbeck. Overbeck had left the priesthood, converted to Lutheranism and married, though it is uncertain whether he ever functioned as a Lutheran pastor. He immigrated to England in 1863 to become professor of German at the Royal Military Academy, where he also undertook studies of the Church of England and Orthodoxy. Convinced that both the Papacy and Anglicanism were on the verge of … [Read more...]