Dearly beloved fellow travellers,
We are absolutely delighted with the very first exterior icon at our church, of the Proto-Martyr Stephen and the Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria, our own patron saints.
How amazing that God has led us to the Orthodox Faith in such unlikely circumstances. What joy and peace we felt when we were received on St Nestor’s Day (27th November 1985) in the garage that had been converted into a tiny Grace-filled Church at St Elias Monastery New Mills, Manafon.
What a privilege it has been to have been able to work with God in order to answer the humble prayers of Helen Kyriakou, who prayed that there should be an Orthodox church established in Shrewsbury where the services could be understood in English. What a blessing to witness so many miracles, from the stunningly un-natural to the quiet turning of the tide of those who trust or for prayers answered. We can both say that there has never been a dull moment, sometimes of anxious struggle, other times positive and rewarding. God has sent an army of people to the community to help with all his work here. It is wonderful that this icon should have been painted by Aidan Hart, who has been involved with our community from the moment it started!
The local saints, especially St Milburga, who once owned our church, have been involved too. She will have been to our church, even if it was then only wattle and daub, as she went to all the properties (Manors) donated to the monastery in Much Wenlock. She taught the Faith, established Christian centres and supported these small centres. St John the Forerunner, to whom our church is also dedicated, is also part of the story. It was on his day, 7th January 1991, that we first looked at the church of St John, Sutton, which had been virtually unused for a hundred years.
It was Costa Maoudis, our president at that time, who said, “Yes, we can do it!”
This is God’s work; we cannot take any credit for it, but let us all pray: ‘May God’s Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven’.
Glory to God!
Father Stephen and Presvytera Catherine