Parish Priest in Britain

Karin Greenhead
Paper presented at the I international conference on metropolitan Anthony’s legacy


I have been asked to speak about Metropolitan Anthony as a Parish priest and in particular on what he brought to the people living in the British Isles. In the preparation of this talk I exchanged several very fruitful and informative emails with Dr Jamie Moran and quote liberally from them here.

As Moran has pointed out, there was a certain “note” and coherence to Metropolitan Anthony’s teaching that “that struck a . . . chord in response”, drawing those who heard it in, making them want to hear more. A key element of this “note” was its personalness: even when he gave a sermon delivered to several hundred people, each one who heard it always had the impression that he was speaking to them personally. His words were not only the result of extensive reading: they persuaded because they bore the conviction of one who speaks of what he knows from experience. He emphasised the importance of personal encounter with God and threw people back on the truth of what they knew from experience. When they asked, as they frequently did, what the one unforgiveable sin against the Holy Spirit was, he would say that it was the denial of what you knew to be true from experience. Going further, he would observe that we were, of course, all subject to delusion and temptation and so should measure our experience against and in the context of the teaching and tradition of the Church. However, the Gospel states, it was the Spirit of the law, not the letter, that gave life. In other words, it was more important to be guided and to live by what you knew from experience than to follow blindly a set of rules and expectations, however exalted these may appear to be. His attitude to God was not simplistic or superficial but he was not frightened of God, believing, as he did, that God was indeed the one great Lover of Mankind. He encouraged us to seek an ongoing dialogue with Christ and to read the Gospel and be guided by it, paying special attention to what particularly attracted or repelled us. Those parts of the Gospel that found a resonance in our hearts and to which we could respond with a whole-hearted “yes” were an indication that to this extent we were like God. We were after all called to be gods, the sons and daughters of the Most High, made in his image although this image was sadly distorted. Those parts of the Gospel from which we recoiled showed us the areas in which we had not yet acquired the mind of God.

Just as his words emphasised God’s belief in man and the greatness of the human calling to divine life, he himself also demonstrated a belief that God did indeed touch and call each person and that person should trust and follow that call wherever it might lead and however risky or unconventional the path may appear. After all, what is conventional about becoming a Holy Fool or a stylite saint?

Following this emphasis on personalness I also will make my account of Metr. Anthony as Parish priest and of his gifts to the British Isles a personal one. Metropolitan Anthony was my spiritual father and received me into the Church. I am one of the many who owe their lives and the direction it has taken to him.

In 1969 I came to London as a student at the Royal College of Music. My philosophy teacher from school. Olga Mount, had recently rediscovered the Church into which she had been baptised as a baby and had started travelling to London to hear Metr. Anthony’s talks. She brought back glowing reports and suggested I go and find the Church. And so it was in Winter on a dark Monday evening that I went to the Church in Ennismore Gardens, just round the corner from my college. The back door was open and I walked in. The church was dark but I could hear singing from the vestry – Fr Michael Fortounatto was conducting a choir practice. This was my introduction to the Orthodox Church.

I started attending church and also the lectures of Fr Anthony who had been a Bishop since 1957 and was already Archbishop and Exarch by this time. Nevertheless he was still referred to as “Father Anthony” for many years (until after a while he insisted on being referred to as Bishop which is what parishioners used to call him, or Vladiko). Bishop Anthony at this period started to become a very popular speaker in England and appeared on TV and the Radio. The interview between himself and the atheist Marghanita Laski published in “God and Man” is worth seeing because of the tone of it: puzzlement and a sense of being lost from Laski and a very compassionate and patient look from Bishop Anthony as he tried to explain. He had an extraordinary presence as a lecturer and a compelling speaking voice although, as is well known to the choir, he couldn’t sing in tune. Many a time in the evening service we would screw up our faces as he produced a note and we tried to fit our singing around him.

I visited him in his flat regularly as did many others, and he also came round to our student flat. We were very young and did not know that Bishops didn’t usually behave in this neighbourly fashion. I immediately felt at home in this Russian Church and did not think of asking to be received into it as I was not sure this was possible, but in July nearly 2 years later he phoned me when I was studying on a course in Geneva. The secretary said “someone called Anthony Bishop wants you to call him”. I will never forget his words. “we have had a council of the ungodly”, by which he meant the clergy,

“we have decided to receive you into the Orthodox Church at the feast of the Dormition”. “ Oh, OK” I said. Eventually all my flatmates joined the Church as did many others.



From 1917 onwards, Paris and London received large numbers of Russian refugees. One young and indefatigable refugee, Nicholas Zernov, brought Eastern and Western Christian students together for conferences on theology and Church discipline. In 1928 this group became The Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius and it was to serve as Orthodox Chaplain to the Fellowship that the future Metr. Anthony arrived 20 years later. Replaced in 1949 by Fr Lev Gillet, he was appointed vicar of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Parish in London to serve a group of Russians, consisting largely of émigrés who had come to Britain following the Bolshevik Revolution, and some non-Russians who had joined the Orthodox Church. Many had married British people and had English-speaking children.

In coming to Britain Metr. Anthony walked into a country with a long and complex Christian past extending back to the time of Christ himself. Christianity came to these islands in the first century AD through trade and became one of the cults practised in the British Isles while Britain, like Palestine, was part of the Roman Empire. With the departure of the Roman legions and the Anglo Saxon invasions in the 5th century, it was reduced to pockets mainly in Wales, Scotland and Ireland where the original Britons fled. In 597 Augustine came with missionaries and a new, Roman form of Christianity. These new practices came to predominate over the older, Irish Christianity of St Columba. However there is even today a strong feeling for the ancient, Celtic Christianity: many wells and some 40 churches named after the early saints still remain. In 871 King Alfred of Wessex defended the faith against the Viking invasions and established a new system of learning to spread Christianity among the illiterate. In the 10th century Lords began to provide churches on their lands where local people could use the services of a priest. During the mediaeval period the church came to dominate the lives of people and pilgrimages were popular.

By 1948 the people of the British Isles consisted mainly of Scots; Welsh; Manx; Northern Irish and “English”. As Fr. Lev Gillet used to say “when you meet an Englishman you meet three people: the Scandinavian pirate, the Anglo-Saxon merchant and the Celtic mystic. It just depends which one of the three predominate”. The largest religious group consisted of Anglican or Presbyterian Christians; then Roman Catholics followed by members of various Protestant groups such as Methodists and Pentecostalists. Today there are many non-Christian groups and some from Christian families have rejected the Churches of their forbears and adopted Hinduism or Buddhism or other belief systems. In addition there are other Orthodox (Greeks and Antiocheans) and also Copts. Many of these groups worshipped in Anglican Churches, as we did, the Anglicans always being an outward-looking and generous group with a strong sense of social responsibility.

Britain’s long Christian past had known religious wars and produced many saints and martyrs. Saints of the period preceding the Great Schism of 1054 are celebrated by the Orthodox Church and it was under Metr. Anthony that many of their names were made known to the Moscow Patriarchate and accepted also in Russia. The early Celtic Christian churches were supplanted by Roman Catholicism and later, owing to the Reformation, Protestantism and Anglicanism sprung up, the Anglican Church being the official Church of England today.

The 16th Century Reformation was a movement against church corruption and “mystification”. Reformers believed that the rituals of the Church and power-structures cluttered up the relationship between the individual person and God. Links with Rome were finally broken by Henry VIIIth who sought a divorce from his wife. He divorced England from Rome and destroyed the monasteries. Under Edward VI further reforms took place, including the publishing of the Bible in English, the abolition of confession, rites of the dead, prayers concerning purgatory and prayers to the saints. Dissenters were killed and an established Church of England owing allegiance to the crown replaced the mediaeval church throughout most of the British Isles, Catholicism surviving in strength only in Ireland. The 17th century English Bible of King James 1st remains in popular use but the church itself fractured still further, producing the “free” churches augmented in the 18th. and 19th. centuries by Methodism and the Evangelical revival. This history of reform explains part of Metr. Anthony’s appeal as his teaching corresponded well with some of the attitudes of Christians from these groups, especially his views concerning those elements dear to reformers: freedom of conscience, theology and church order. Owing to the many waves of immigrants in the 19 and 20th century we now have more the 200 Christian denominations in the UK.

Many factors made Britain in the second half of the 20th century a fertile ground for Metr. Anthony’s work. It had a long and complex Christian past, a habit of travel and interest in the East that had developed during the 19th century, and an interest in Orthodoxy. Literature and religious texts from China, Russia and India were very widely known owing to the many translations. Many had left organised religion to follow the movements of Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and others. As time went on the Death of God movement in the Anglican Church contributed to feelings of dissatisfaction and incompleteness in many Anglican Christians who thirsted for a deeper understanding of Christianity and in particular for the Sacramental aspects.

Before I came to the Church in Ennismore Gardens a number of non-Russians had already converted to Orthodoxy. They were mainly educated people, about 30 or 40 years older than me and, like Metr Anthony himself, educated and widely read. Some came from Paris and had known Andrey Bloom since their youth. Of the Russians who socialised with the “British”, Tatiana “Tatisha” Behr was one of the most central. Tatisha (in whose house I lodged for several years) had no hesitation in ‘phoning him up to tell him off if she disagreed with something he said – in fact she saw it as her duty to do so.

To help the growing number of non-Russian converts, sections of services and sometimes whole services were taken in English, which Metr. Anthony spoke rather better than many English people. He had an excellent command of language and became a popular lecturer in Churches and universities throughout the land.

London is an adaptable city to which many people gravitate. Many newcomers, often students, came to church but there were others in their 20s and 30s from various parts of Europe and USA. The Russians referred to all these as “the English”! They were often very puzzled by the newcomers - Why didn't they go to their own churches? The Russians had not yet discovered the truth that Metr. Anthony was rapidly discovering – that Orthodoxy is for everyone: it is a universal, not an ethnic, religion. He used to say that the Holy Spirit had brought Orthodoxy back to the West through the Russians and we held it in our care. It was our duty to return the compliment – to bring Orthodoxy back to Russia.


Many modern people, while considering themselves good and moral or even spiritual persons are indifferent to organised religion. This, as Jamie Moran points out, is partly due to the polarised views of religion.

On one hand stands the importance of personal spirituality. Those “Westerners (who are) alienated from religion think that church is incompatible with direct, personal experience of God” in which God reveals Himself, calling and leading each person “unmediated by anything outside; Jung once said "It is the function of the church to oppose all original experience, because this can only be unorthodox."” (Moran 2009)!

Moran asks what the purpose of this personal, spiritual experience is and what end it serves. “Is it simply part of our psychological growth, adding attractive qualities of maturity, creativity, and wisdom to us, . . . rounding us off and completing us so to speak? . . . . Who benefits from the fleeting visitation, or more permanent indwelling, of the Spirit?”. He observes that if personal spirituality serves only the beautification of the self it is a narcissistic self-love that never bleeds, never sacrifices anything, for the other. If God were self-oriented in this way his creation would not be a free “other” but merely a mirror flattering to Himself.

The Fathers of the Church have repeatedly warned that experience may be delusive and lead us astray. Moran points out that it is false to believe everything in spirituality can simply come from inside oneself. In his view, Jung confused the mystical, the visionary, the imaginal, the psychic, and mistakenly ran all these together, reducing the mystical and visionary to the imaginal and psychic. He quotes Buber’s observation on Jung: "Jung wants to divinise the soul without first sanctifying it." This is a trap into which many of us easily fall, trying to “leap too quickly into heaven”, as one London parishioner, Tatisha Behr, liked to point out. We may not understand that we will be taken through an often hard process of purification “for He is like a refiner’s fire” (Mal. 3:2).

The Church has always rejected the kind of spiritual experience which results in the use of the power and gifts of the Spirit to exalt the individual or to produce slavish followers. In true spirituality, “the soul becomes a wellspring enriching many, and the heart a flame warming many”; but this transformation has a price. “Christ on the Cross reached out to the world . . . include(ing) everyone and everything in it” (Moran, 2009). The cost of this love was the giving away of His very self. If we take up our cross and follow Him we should expect the same. “Grafted wound to wound into Christ”: as Metr. Anthony used to say, we should expect to suffer with Him. We should be ready to be reduced to nothing, spent, “lost . . used up for love. True spiritual experience”, as Moran continues, echoing Metropolitan Anthony, “causes the person in whom it occurs to become a servant of all, and a sacrifice for all.”

On the opposite side from personal experience stands collective authority and control espoused by many organised religious groups, including the Church. This authoritative hand can often be a deadly one, ignoring the real needs of individual persons. At worst, it crushes the seeds of true faith and love replacing them with in insistence on adherence to rules, regulations and practices and the threat of exclusion or damnation. The Church can fall into the temptation of ruling through control and fear and not through love. Fear prevents people from knowing themselves and recognising their own feelings and so it effectively cuts them off from encounter with God. It roots out the very courage, daring and risk without which it is impossible to fight evil or indeed to live. This approach was criticised repeatedly in the strongest possible terms by Christ in the Gospels.

Metr. Anthony taught that it is a mistake to search for correctness; and the unquestioning observance of rules and regulations to which many devote time and attention, is mistaken – no-one can be “correct” with God. This search has nothing to do with the search for God Himself but rather puts the observance of rules in place of a relationship. In His criticisms of the Pharisees and lawyers, Christ condemns all self-righteousness and attempts at self-justification and shows that repentance is the way to salvation.

Metr. Anthony encouraged us to foreswear security and to set out on the sea of darkness into the unknown, trusting in God to lead us to his chosen destinations.

The effect of the flowering of spirituality in 19th Century Russia has yet to be fully appreciated. Moran concurs with Berdyaev’s assessment concerning the uniqueness of spirituality that revolutionised Orthodoxy in 19th century Russia and was destined to reach beyond Russia to the West and out into the whole world. The “spiritual explosion of Russianness at its absolute best was also wholly universal. It was as if this marvellous Russian quality, or energy, was capable of bridging the gap between East and West, reminding Westerners of what they had once known but perhaps had forgotten” (Moran 2009). It spoke to the shared dilemma of what it meant to be human while pointing to a common core of witness to Christ that had power and depth around which everyone could unite, as Moran points out. Russian-ness appealed enormously to the West: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and other writers were very popular in translation as was Russian Ballet and Russian Music.

The appearance of Orthodoxy in the West showed that religion can address the reality and depth of existence, and address it in a way lost to secular humanism. Russian spirituality showed that the Spirit not only uses images and symbols to speak to us but enters our very hearts and confronts us personally in the ground of our being. In Moran’s view, Metr Anthony demonstrated the teaching of the Church Fathers: “that experience is not incompatible with church but is in fact the very driving force of tradition”. The Christianity he taught, rooted in the Spirit that inspired his predecessors, was a kind of existential mysticism focussed on depth and spiritual darkness but also other areas of spirituality, such as embodiment or incarnation, and social life, with justice as the prior condition necessary for wider Trinitarian communion among persons. True ‘knowing’ comes only through love. In love, the other is revealed and we are revealed, in relation, together.

After 40 days of temptation in the desert Christ returned to the world and, pointing to the Old Testament, repeated Isaiah’s declaration of what ‘being in the Spirit’ does to the person. The Spirit had ‘anointed’ him ‘to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” . This agenda of redemption recurs throughout the Old and New Testaments. “We receive the Spirit not to be saved, . . . but to save”. As co-workers with God we are given the power and gifts of the divine love that redeems the whole world. “By their fruits shall you know them”. “The simplest way to sum up such fruits is that they are all, in one way or another, redemptive in their meaning, energy and purpose” (Moran 2009).

Metr. Anthony liked to point out that the Spirit, like the sun, touches all, just and unjust, and many responded from a source in their depths they had never named or even considered. Christ warned his disciples not to judge those who follow the Spirit in an implicit, not explicit, manner. Many in other religions, and in no religion, have been moved by the Spirit that calls them to be like the Redeemer-- but in their own way, and in their own situation, rooted in who and what they are and in the context in which they live. Metr Anthony likewise respected the beliefs and commitments of others who were not members of the Church and received their respect in return. He did not proselytise but encouraged many to go and study the religions of their parents first and then decide whether or not they wanted to become Orthodox. He studied not only the teachings of other Christian denominations but also the texts of non-Christian faiths and could quote from them and draw parallels between them and Christian teaching, showing the extent to which other religions were concordant with Christianity. Owing to the free and uncontained movement of the Spirit we could see perhaps where the Church was, but not where it was not.

Moran is keen to show that the Church and tradition stand for a process of making holy, of first sanctifying the soul before divinising it, and for showing us how far from the heart we are. Its authoritativeness should help people to reach 'the kingdom of heaven that is within you'. Arrogance, dishonesty, pre-conceived ideas, and pompousness, prevent us from hearing the Spirit. We must be broken-hearted (a popular theme of Mtre. Anthony), and cleansed of soul. The Church is designed to hold out for a “hard(er) way of walking the road of personal experience, personal illumination, personal service, in regard to God. (It) is not supposed to block the . . . direct encounter with God, but to mediate it, prepare for it, facilitate it” so that, as at Pentecost, the Spirit can bring all together. To fulfil this role the Church always has to keep a watch on its tendency to control.

There is a tendency to polarise and prefer either the individual over tradition (or vice versa) or inner versus outer sources of illumination. The third possibility including both poles: individual and tradition or inner and outer became a live issue in 19th Century Russia. As Moran observes, Metr. Anthony was a representative and exemplar of the true meaning of 'personal spirituality', and linked this to the true meaning of church/tradition. In this way spirituality moved beyond the personal, and became communal, inter-personal, enworlded. He defended the Church as the ark of salvation for all, the Bride for which Christ died, grubby and disfigured, like us, as it was, and he pointed to a vision of the Church that must shake off the limitations of hide-bound and restricted attitudes that stopped it from fulfilling its redeeming mission. For this mission to be fulfilled however, each and every member of the church must be roused to fight for this third, inclusive way, not leaving the task to clergy, but taking it on as a matter of urgency and personal responsibility.


Metr. Anthony welcomed people, and trusted them. He was free, and left others free. He avoided using the restrictive trappings of hierarchy and power over other people and taught his own version of Buber’s I--Thou relationship, often standing with the congregation in a simple cassock. He opened up a channel to the Spirit in many people and from that channel they knew what it meant in their own lives to be in contact with Spirit.

He had a vision of what relationships could or should be like combined with an understanding of the inner life, its darkness and depth, twists and turns. He could connect psychology, prayer and the road that leads to God. We all recognised Metr. Anthony as a charismatic figure truly called by God. He brought to the West a vision of what Eastern Orthodoxy 'could' or should be, a vision rooted in the extraordinary flowering of Orthodox Christianity of 19th Century Russia.

Metr. Anthony taught that it was better to “sin boldly” than to avoid the risk of sinning by never doing anything at all. A sinner could repent but one who had never risked anything had never given himself wholly. It was this whole-heartedness that God preferred to pallid “good behaviour” with no heart. We often discussed sin and confession, a great puzzle to many people who had been brought up to behave well. It was difficult for us to identify ourselves as sinners unless we had done something very obviously wrong. I myself feel that inoffensiveness is a sin in Metr, Anthony’s terms because it means playing safe, passively obedient, following social mores, not taking risks and therefore not trusting God’s faith in us. Another friend identified sentimentality and rigidity as sins as they cause us to lose the sense of togetherness necessary to walking the third way between collectivism and individualism. Metr. Anthony taught that there was in each person a “God-shaped hole” that could be satisfied by nothing less than God himself. His vision was of the greatness of the calling of man and he seemed to feel that we all opted for thinking of ourselves as too small. In fact thinking of man as “nothing” was a get-out since it meant we did not have to respond to the call to greatness.

Metr. Anthony preached Christ as the Saviour who loves us to the end and beyond. This salvation included all mankind and the whole created, material world because we and the creation were all inter-connected. This sobornost of all created things rules out both individualism and authoritarianism. The Church stands for “I – Thou as We, a personal communion also described by Zizioulas and Yannaras: soul as shared, not hidden in the unconscious of each but flowing between all” (Moran 2009).

Metr. Anthony had come originally to a small parish. As it grew and other parishes sprung up in other parts of the country, he continued to administer the growing Diocese as if it were still a small parish, a local church. He saw everyone personally, at first in his room in parish house and later in the church itself. He went to visit the sick in their homes. He was not snobbish. While those who came to the church were sometimes well known to the British public (such as Prince Charles (whose grandmother was a Greek Orthodox nun), or Terry Waite) he also for example, came to our student flat and attended Youth Camps in Wales and we visited him up the road in his flat.

Some people were attracted to the church more by the Russian singing and Russian-ness of the services and behaviour rather than Orthodoxy as such. Others were attracted because they could find no home in the other Churches. Freedom without chaos is important to the British who do not really like being told what to do and think. Here was a man who presented Christ as a person with whom you could and should have a dialogue; who restored the inclusion of Saints in our prayer and daily lives, not as magic beings but as people like ourselves that we could know and talk to; who restored the angelic world as part of the creation to protestants who had been deprived of them; who gave back to Christians of all kinds the meditative or contemplative life that many at that time had sought in Buddhism. Metr. Anthony did not threaten or preach obedience to rules – he preached openness of the heart, a readiness to respond personally to the call of God. He preached the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit to be taken appropriate care of. Every evening service ended with a stress on the words “for He is good and He loves mankind” - he convinced us that God did indeed love us, had willed – loved - us into existence. We were uniquely precious.

The other parishes, being further away from London, often felt neglected by their Bishop. They also had more of a chance to get on with living Christianity in an ordinary way as they were not in a huge, ever-changing cosmopolitan city. I often looked down from the Choir Gallery and found I only knew half or less of the people there.

As time went on the London or Cathedral parish came to consist almost entirely of converts. We continued to broadcast the Easter services by radio to Russia and saw ourselves as helping that suffering country, a land we loved even if we had never seen it as it was the land from which we had received our faith. We read the lives of Russian saints and had Russian icons in our homes and began to rediscover the ancient Orthodoxy of these islands. We belonged jurisdictionarily to the Moscow Patriarchate but most people had never been to Russia. What they joined was the Orthodox Church in its Russian form. It happened to be an outpost of the Moscow Patriarchate but as there were Autocephalos Churches in other countries many assumed that one day we too would be Autocephalos. For those for whom it was the faith rather than the Russian-ness that attracted and held them there could have been the option of the Greek Church but in fact a number of Greeks came to us. Costa Carras explains why:

“ The original impetus for many Greeks was the sense that we were trapped in a formal and ethnic Orthodoxy. We knew already that Fr Anthony’s Orthodoxy was Russian but also far broader and deeper than Russian in an ethnic sense.

Once one had visited Ennismore Gardens one could not but be struck by two things. First, the sober beauty and depth of the celebration of the Liturgy. Second, the spiritual authority with which he spoke – and when I first met him he was not yet a Bishop. That impression of profundity and authority was further strengthened when one took confession or one met him in private, as many non-Russian orthodox did.”

Metr. Anthony’s queue for confession was always long. He stood with the penitent without judgement, listening attentively to everything said and to the Spirit. He never trotted out recipes – his responses were always directed to the person before him personally and if he was not inspired with a particular word for that person he would say so. On one occasion a woman returned to thank him for the advice he gave. He said “I never said that – but if that is what you heard it was the right message for you”. He was never distracted and had a remarkable ability to be totally present in any situation. This ability to be present was contagious and helped many.

Because of his capacity to sympathise and identify with others, Metr. Anthony attracted a great many suffering souls and this also put the parish under quite a lot of pressure. Many were women who were quite unused to having anyone listen to them or take their thoughts and feelings seriously. Some had suffered a great deal in camps. Vera Parker always sat at the front in Church, cursed those of whom she was afraid or occasionally threw things at them but she always attended the Diocesan conference and made pertinent remarks on occasion. She also walked to the Church and posted bread rolls through the letter box to Metr. Anthony in case he needed food.

Once Metr. Anthony was sure that the person he was seeing had been as it were “captured” by God and had his feet on the right path, he often stopped seeing them altogether. This upset many, they felt they had been dropped, and they had. From regular appointments and conversations, suddenly the void. The only way to get to him was through confession! One parishioner said angrily, “Does one have to be completely mad to get an appointment with you??” People often rang the other priests to find out where Metr. Anthony was.

Over time his style of teaching and its content changed. When I first came to the church it was very focussed on inclusivity, openness, love, trust, whole-heartedness. We were to identify with the people in the Gospel stories and decide who we were – those who crucified Christ, the repentant thief, the onlookers, the chief priests and so on. All these represented different kinds of human behaviour and we could find ourselves there. The Gospel became a living event applicable to us now. The culture of the English in particular, having behind them a history of very bloody religious wars, had been to listen, to avoid conflict or confrontation, to be indirect, polite and behave well at all times. They often found it very difficult to identify their own sinfulness because superficially they always did the right thing while possibly harbouring a great deal of unexpressed resentment in their hearts. You can imagine that the English-Russian mix was a strange one. Metr. Anthony had to try to encourage the English to be more daring, open and forthcoming while at the same time encouraging the Russians to be quieter and to listen more.

In the early 1970s he gave a talk in Parish house to an audience of mostly single women. He said there were only 2 vocations in life: the traditional ones of marriage and monasticism. Anyone who had not chosen one of those had failed to make a choice! Clearly, most of the people present would understand that somehow they had gone wrong! Over time his own understanding developed and he came to realise that there were infinite callings – that God could call His people as he wished to whatever life he wished. The traditional family had broken down in England. Convert women found it very difficult to find husbands and were more or less obliged to live like nuns. In other words a new period in the life of the Church had begun. Just as monasticism had started in the Egyptian desert, now a time had come where people lived alone in the desert of the city and followed the Spirit’s promptings without wearing special clothes or being subject to a Superior. This development had been predicted by St Seraphim of Sarov.

As time went on Metr. Anthony became much more serious and demanding. He asked the congregation to be less passive, to work for Christ, to be more disciplined and not to talk in church after the Liturgy (This last never really succeeded!). Times were changing.

During the last 10 years of his life he gave fewer public talks but always addressed the Diocesan Conference and Assembly. It was under him that the Diocese developed an Assembly, a Council, statutes by which it could function. These addresses to the Diocesan Assembly were some of the best, the most concise and important I heard him give. Gone was the gift for drama and oratory. All his energy was focussed on the message and on what he wanted us to understand and hear. I had the impression of a man at the height of his powers while he felt he was losing them.

Metr. Anthony a came to the UK to serve the Russian émigrés in London. He brought us all the Gospel and a truly Orthodox understanding of ourselves, each and all, Church and people.

London September 7, 2009. Revised November 18th. 2009

Metropolitan Anthony Library

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