The Central Coast of New South Wales – the area between the Hawkesbury River in the south and Lake Macquarie in the north – has been a popular holiday destination since the railway made it accessible in the late 1890s. In the years following the Second World War Russian Orthodox people, too, began to holiday on the Central Coast, and many purchased or built summer homes there. A small number settled permanently in the area, and it is known that Archpriest John Lupish, the rector of the parish in Wallsend (Newcastle) from 1952-1977, travelled occasionally to the Central Coast to serve funerals and other services of need. It is also known that Archpriest Rostislav Gan, the rector of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta from 1953-1975, suggested the construction of a summer chapel on the Woy Woy Peninsula. It is not known if Divine Liturgy was ever served on the Central Coast during this time. Sadly, it is certain that nothing came of Father Rostislav’s suggestion.
By the late 1990s the number of Russian Orthodox families living permanently on the Central Coast had increased significantly. Although many travelled to Wallsend or to the Sydney parishes for divine services, a small number of families, the most prominent of which was the family of Alexander Nikolaevich Yakimov, approached the Ruling Bishop of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, then Archbishop Hilarion (Kapral), seeking his blessing to organise an Orthodox Christian community and a church school for children in the Gosford region. Archbishop Hilarion’s blessing was given on 25 July/7 August 1998, the day of commemoration of the Dormition of the Righteous Anna, and published in the Diocesan journal "Церковное Слово" ("Word of the Church") shortly thereafter. It was to be some time, however, before the first divine services of the new community.
It was to be Archbishop Hilarion himself who presided at the first Divine Liturgy in East Gosford on 13/26 November 2000, attended by approximately 40 people. The service was in both Church Slavonic and English, and those who attended atayed afterwards for a “cup of tea”. These things – the use of two languages in divine services and the gathering afterwards for fellowship and refreshments – have ever since been a feature of parish life.
Shortly after this it became necessary to find a new home for the community. After a period of searching, arrangements were made in early 2001 to use the Narara Community Centre. This spacious, modern and well-equipped hall was to remain our home until April 2004. Before every service, all items for our church – sacred vessels and vestments, the altar table, icons and stands, candle stands, and so on – had to be transported to Narara and set out. All who could assist with this work did so. Archbishop Hilarion and a number of priests from Sydney served during 2000 and 2001.
- The appointment of a permanent priest in 2001
- Parish growth and plans for our own church
- A church of our own!
- The blessing of our parish centre in May 2004
- Parish life 2004-2013
- Ten years in our own church!