Saint Panteleimon's is an Orthodox Christian parish of Russian tradition serving the New South Wales Central Coast and the northern suburbs of Sydney. We are a parish of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Established in 2000, our parish is one of the newest in our Diocese.
Updated 13 February 2021: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it are having a profound impact on social interaction around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this. Our parish takes this public health risk seriously and is strictly complying with the directives of the civil authorities in this country including limits on the number of people present at services and registration of attendance. We have introduced sanitary measures in church life including the provision of hand sanitiser at the entry to the church; discouraging people from kissing the Holy Gospel, the icons, the chalice, the Cross, and the hand of the priest; cleaning icons regularly with methylated spirits; anointing the faithful with disposable cotton swabs rather than a single brush; the provision of disposable napkins for use when receiving Holy Communion; the provision of disposable cups from which to receive the warm water and wine (“zapivka”) after Holy Communion; strict limits on the number of people singing in the choir; and the cancellation of our usual “cup of tea” after services. We have registered as a COVID-safe place of worship. Our parish COVID-19 Safety Plan, relevant statements from church authorities, public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes are available here.
Updated 13 February 2021: From Saturday 13 February 2021 attendance at religious services in New South Wales is again subject to the two square metre rule. We are permitted 65 people because the total area of our church, adjoining hall and choir loft is approximately 130 square metres. Although this means that restrictions have effectively been lifted for all evening and weekday services, the size of our parish is such that we will continue to manage attendance on Sundays and large services such as Christmas, Easter, and our parish feast-day.
In our parish approximately 100 people attend Sunday services regularly. These people have now been divided into two teams of approximately fifty people each and will be advised which team they belong to. Team A may attend on the first Sunday of the month and Team B may attend on the third Sunday of the month. The 15 free places will be used to accommodate those not allocated to a team, occasional worshippers, and visitors. Those allocated to a team who wish to attend Sunday services more frequently may email email@example.com. If possible, a place will be allocated.
For the time being, we continue to ask that our parishioners and friends only attend services if they are in good health. A person will not be considered be in good health if they are suffering from a fever, cough, a sore or "scratchy" throat, loss of smell or taste, a runny nose, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, or recent unexplained onset of shortness of breath, muscle pain or joint pain. Those who may have had contact with known cases of COVID-19 should comply with public health directives concerning testing and, if necessary, self-isolation. The wearing of masks is no longer required in churches provided social distancing can be maintained.
We will continue to have a sheet at the candle-desk on which to record attendance and contact details. Care should be taken to sign in upon arrival at church. The completed attendance sheets will be stored securely, retained for four weeks, and only released to the NSW Chief Health Officer if required for the purpose of contact-tracing should there be an instance of community transmission of COVID-19.
Our parish is a small one that relies wholly on community support to make ends meet. If you have found this website to be of interest or of use, please consider helping us. Donations may be made directly to our bank account:
St Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Community of Gosford
BSB: 032-596 Account number: 140923
May the Lord bless you!
On Friday 23 April and Saturday 24 April we will have services for the Sixth Saturday of Great Lent, Lazarus Saturday. On this day the Orthodox Church commemorates the raising of Lazarus from the dead after four days in the grave (John 11:1-45). Matins will be served at 7.00pm on Friday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Saturday. As we will have no services in our parish this year for Palm Sunday, pussy-willows will be blessed following the Prayer before the Amvon. After Divine Liturgy a collection will be taken up to assist the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem and the newly-blessed cross will be elevated and mounted on the front of our parish centre.
On Saturday 24 April, Lazarus Saturday, our parish will take up a collection to benefit the Russian Eccelesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. This collection is customarily taken up on Palm Sunday every year in all the parishes, monasteries and missions of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. As we have no services in our parish for Palm Sunday this year, we will take up the collection on the preceding day. Collection envelopes will be available in church from the evening of Friday 23 April. Many places of immense spiritual and historical significance in the Holy Land have been entrusted to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, and we have many monastics there who care for these holy places, undertake good works, and pray for the whole world. The monastics there are in particular need of support at present as the coronavirus has halted the flow of pilgrims. Those who wish to make a donation online direct to the Mission may do so via Paypal through the Mission's website.
Our parish will have Matins at 6.00pm on Sunday 25 April and at 7.00pm on Monday 26 April, Tuesday 27 April, and Wednesday 28 April. The Hours, Typika and Vespers with Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Great Thursday, 29 April. On Great Friday, 30 April, we will have Vespers with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ at 3.00pm. On Great Saturday, 1 May, we will have Midnight Office at 11.20pm. Paschal Matins, to be followed by the blessing of kulichi and eggs and by Divine Liturgy, will begin at 12.00am on Sunday 2 May. At 11.00am on Sunday 2 May we will have the Paschal Hours and Vespers. For a number of other traditional Holy Week services, our parish rector will be serving at Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Wallsend (Newcastle). Attendance at services is now open to all on the understanding that we are permitted a maximum of 65 people in church at any one time.
On Saturday 17 April and Sunday 18 April we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the life and example of Saint Mary of Egypt and of Righteous Zosima. Following the service on Sunday the prayers of blessing were read over a beautiful new stainless steel cross, the work of long-term parishioner Victor Bendevski, to be mounted on the front of our parish centre.
On Tuesday 13 April the Parish Council met in person at our parish centre, the first face-to-face meeting since August 2020. The usual reports on parish life and finances were tabled and discussed. The recent repose of two parishioners, Boris Levitsky and Olga Binetsky, was noted. The arrangements for a church clean-up on Saturday 17 April and for managing attendance at the Easter services were considered, together with preliminary plans for our patronal feast of the Great-Martyr Panteleimon on 8-9 August. It was noted that the Ladies' Auxiliary had decided to purchase new white vestments for the parish clergy, new black vestments for our servers, and new purple vestments for the church, clergy and servers. The Parish Council is due to meet again in mid-May 2021.
In addition to services for the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, during the Fourth Week of Great Lent we had Great Compline in the evening of Wednesday 7 April and Vespers with the Fourth Passia in the evening on Sunday 12 April.
On Saturday 10 April the parish rector baptised Yana, the infant daughter of Ruslan Starikov and Elena Kazurova, and a baby sister to Nina. Yana, whose godparents were Pavel Markov and Lydia Han, was baptised in honour of the Holy Myrrh-bearer Ioanna. We warmly congratulate Ruslan, Elena, Pavel and Lydia, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Ioanna many years!
On Tuesday-Wednesday 6-7 April we had services for the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Tuesday evening, and the Hours, Typika, Vespers and Divine Liturgy were served on Wednesday morning. Our small church was beautifully adorned in blue vestments for the services, and many of the people present on Wednesday morning received Holy Communion.
On Saturday 3 April and Sunday 4 April we had services for the Third Sunday of Great Lent. Matins with the bringing-out of the Cross was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday 3 April was a day of commemoration of the departed, Matins was preceded by a general panikhida during which prayers were offered for the ever-memorable Emperor Paul I of Russia (+March 1801), Metropolitan Laurus (Shkurla) (+ March 2008), Archimandrite Kyprian (Pyzhov) of Jordanville (+ March 2001), Russian Orthodox clergy victims of the coronavirus, and our departed founders, benefactors, parishioners and relatives. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the conditions of Christian discipleship: forgetting oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following after Christ.
During the Third Week of Great Lent we had Lenten Matins with the First Hour early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Great Compline on Wednesday evening. On Tuesday-Wednesday 30-31 March our clergy participated in the Great Lenten Pastoral Conference of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese. In addition to services on Saturday-Sunday 3-4 April for the Third Sunday in Great Lent, Vespers with the Second Passia was served on the evening of Sunday 4 April.
During the Second Week of Great Lent we had Lenten Matins with the First Hour early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Great Compline on Wednesday evening. In addition, Vespers with the Second Passia was served on the evening of Sunday 28 March.
On Saturday 20 March and Sunday 21 March we had services for the First Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. Many of those present received Holy Communion. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the history of the veneration of icons, the place of icons in the defence of the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ, and the importance of spiritual struggle and faithfulness to tradition in the preservation of Orthodoxy from heresy and schism. In accordance with the practice of parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, 'The Order for a Hymn of Supplication for the Conversion of those in Error' was served at the end of Divine Liturgy. Also on this day, a collection was taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York.
During the First Week of Great Lent we had services in the morning and evening on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On each of these days, Lenten Matins with the First Hour was served at 7.00am and Great Compline with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete was served at 7.00pm. In addition to services on Saturday-Sunday 20-21 March for the First Sunday of Great Lent, Vespers with the First Passia was served on the evening of Sunday 21 March.
Early in the evening on Sunday 14 March, the Sunday of Forgiveness, we had Vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness. During this service the church vestments were changed from gold to black and the festive melodies gave way to the solemn Lenten melodies. At the end of the service the parish rector spoke briefly about the Gospel injunction to grant forgivenss if we are to hope for forgiveness from God (Matthew 6:14-15). Following this, all present venerated the holy icons and asked forgiveness of one another in accordance with Orthodox custom.
The information on this website concerning weddings in the Russian Orthodox Church has been updated to address modesty of attire and the visibility of tattoos and piercings during the wedding ceremony. The updated information can be viewed here. Any questions about this information should be directed to the parish rector.
On Wednesday 10 March the Parish Council met by teleconference. The usual reports on parish life and finances were tabled and discussed and an update was given on our new iconostasis. A contract for the manufacture of the iconostasis was signed in January 2021, a video conference with the designer was held on 5 March 2021, and completion is expected by February 2022. Attention was also given to charitable activity during Great Lent and plans for our patronal feast-day in August 2021. It is expected that the Parish Council will next meet early in April 2021.
On Saturday 6 March and Sunday 7 March we had services for the Sunday of the Last Judgement. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday 6 March was a day of commemoration of the departed, Matins was preceded by a general pannikhida. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about preparing for the Last Judgement by responding to others as if to Christ Himself. It being just one week before the beginning of Great Lent, the parish Ladies’ Auxiliary prepared pancakes before the service that the faithful could take home with them.
Our Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May 2021 - is now available in digital format. It includes all our services for Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies are available in church.
On 18 February 2021 Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, published an Archpastoral Epistle to the Clergy and Flock of the Eastern American and Australian-New Zealand Dioceses. The full text of the Epistle can be read in English here and in Russian here. An extract: "Dear fathers, brothers, and sisters! Bowing reverently before the memory of the above-mentioned giants of the Russian Church, let us take an interest in their lives, labors, and legacies, and let us take up the “exhausting and difficult task” of working on ourselves during the approaching Great Lent. Let us augment our prayers and reading, and take care for the doing of good deeds, taking hold of ourselves and declaring war on our sinful habits. It is truly comforting to observe how, in preparation for this salvific time, full of the most beautiful and meaningful services of the Church year, the pandemic has begun to die down, quarantine measures are being relaxed, and the normal flow of life is gradually returning. Nevertheless, I call on the rectors of the parishes and monasteries to continue to act with careful circumspection, adhering to common sense, sanitary norms, and the regulations set by local authorities, taking the recommended precautionary measures as circumstances dictate, while the order of receiving Communion should remain unchanged. Manifestations of disobedience and "zeal not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2) on these matters, as the pandemic has shown us, lead not only to outbreaks of sickness, but also to serious divisions among the people, to say nothing of every manner of other temptations. Therefore, obey readily and without complaint the directives of the Hierarchy and local governments, which in the present circumstances are being undertaken precisely for our benefit. Calling on God’s aid, let us also call on doctors and medics to offer assistance in the parishes, remembering the words of the most wise Sirach: "the Lord hath created the physician… and medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them" (Sirach 38:1,4). The great luminaries of Christ’s Church respected doctors and medical science. The Holy Hierarch Basil the Great says, “Humanity is the regular business of all you who practice as physicians… for health we are dependent on your skill” (Letter to Eustathius the Physician). In his Letter to Olympias, the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom asks for remedy for himself, and counsels others to make use of the aid of physicians and medicines".