Saint Nicholas' is an Orthodox Christian parish of Russian tradition serving Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. 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 1952, our parish is the oldest continuously-functioning Orthodox parish in the Hunter Valley.
Parish life and COVID-19
Updated 10 October 2021: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it have had a profound impact on life around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this.
As Orthodox Christians have done during the many other outbreaks of contagious illness – epidemics and pandemics – throughout history, our parish is offering prayers for God’s mercy, for deliverance from sickness, for the pacification of troubles, and for the strengthening of the faithful with hope. Attending to the wise guidance of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, we are also taking the COVID-19 public health risk seriously and complying with the precautionary measures mandated by the civil authorities in our state of New South Wales. This includes the suspension of public services and, when public services are permitted, limits on the number of people present and on singing; registration of attendance to assist with contact tracing; and the wearing of facemasks. We offer obedience to these restrictions with the understanding that, as Metropolitan Hilarion has noted, they are being undertaken for our benefit.
We have also introduced a number of simple sanitary measures at parish level. These will continue as COVID-19 restrictions ease. The customary form of receiving Holy Communion remains unchanged.
For many years, a characteristic of the life of our parish has been an informal meal after Sunday services. Although this has been cancelled since March 2020, a change to parish life that many have found difficult, we hope to resume some face-to-face fellowship soon.
We have registered as a COVID-safe place of worship. Our parish COVID-19 Safety Plan, guidance from the higher church authorities, links to public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes able to provide them, are available here.
Many of our parishioners and friends have asked about the permissibility of COVID-19 vaccines. As with other kinds of vaccination, this is not a matter of spiritual life. Those concerned about health risks arising from COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged to discuss the matter with their own medical professionals. Noting that there are differences within our hierarchy and amongst the faithful concerning the newly developed vaccines, we encourage all to show kindness, patience, and mutual respect.
Attendance at church services
Updated 10 October 2021: Our church will be open for public services from the weekend of 23-24 October. All services will be in accordance with current NSW Government rules. We are recomending that there be no baptisms until December 2021. From the resumption of services until 30 November 2021, face masks will be required and attendance at regular services will be limited to 32 people, or one person per four squares metres. On those occasions when more than 32 people attend we will manage the numbers in church so as to give as many people as possible the opportunity to venerate the icons, light candles, and participate in the service.
Supporting our parish
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 Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
BSB: 032-509 Account number: 281104
May the Lord bless you!
Forthcoming services and activities
Services on 23-24 October, the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost - 24/10/2021
On Saturday 23 October and Sunday 24 October we will have services for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Matins will be served at 6.00pm on Saturday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Sunday. Attendance at both services is open to all who wish to attend, but if the number of people in church exceeds 32 it may be necessary to manage the situation so as to give as many as possible the opportunity to venerate the icons, light candles, and participate in the services. General information concerning attendance at services in our parish as COVID-19 restrictions ease is available here. The NSW Government requirement that face masks be worn whilst indoors at public places up until 30 November 2021 should be noted.
The October 2021 meeting of the Parish Council - 07/10/2021
On Thursday 7 October, the Parish Council met by teleconference. The usual reports on parish life and finances were tabled and discussed. A decision was made to recommence services in our parish on the weekend of 23-24 October, provided that the 80 per cent vaccination target is reached in New South Wales and vaccination status has no impact on church attendance. It was further agreed that the 2021 Annual General Meeting of the parish would be convened on Sunday 12 December, and that an architect would be engaged to help the Parish Council develop a Master Plan for ongoing improvements to the parish buildings and grounds. The Parish Council is due to meet next in November 2021.
The August 2021 meeting of the Parish Council - 31/08/2021
On Tuesday 31 August the Parish Council met by teleconference. The usual reports on parish life and finances were tabled and discussed. Our parish rector reported that a new seven-branched lampstand had been purchased for the sanctuary and that a new candle-stand had been purchased for placement before our icon of the Mother of God, "All Creation Rejoices in Thee". An update was given on ongoing renovations and a number of proposed improvements to the parish facilities and grounds; a decision on further work was set aside until the Parish Council can meet in person to discuss the matter. It was noted that places of worship in regional New South Wales had been closed to the public since the first week of August, and that it remained unclear when public services would again be possible. The Parish Council will meet again prior to the next public services.
Services on 31 July - 1 August, the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - 01/08/2021
On Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August we had services for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils and the finding of the relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1903). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales, attendance at both services was limited to 32 people. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read and, following the Prayer before the Amvon, a brief moleben to Saint Seraphim was served. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils and of Saint Seraphim of Sarov as defenders of Orthodoxy, both intellectually and in their manner of life.
Services on 24-25 July, the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost - 26/07/2021
On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July we had services for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Martyrs Hilary and Proclus of Ancyra (+Second Century AD) and Venerable Michael Maleinos (+961 AD). Matins 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. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales, attendance at both services was limited to 32 people. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the lives and witness of the saints commemorated.
Services on 10-11 July, the Third Sunday after Pentecost - 11/07/2021
On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 July we had services for the Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Unmercenary Healers and Wonderworkers Cyrus and John (+ 412 AD). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales, attendance at services was limited to 32 people. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the commemorations of saints on the first three Sundays after Pentecost and of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Church & Community Life
An academic conference to mark the Centenary of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia - 25/11/2021
In 2020 our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia observed the centenary of its foundation. To mark this historic anniversary, an academic conference will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, in November this year. Titled ‘Links between Times: Conclusions and Perspectives – On the Centennial of the Russian Church Abroad’, the conference has been organised by the Archive of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the website Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad. The conference will be broadcast live. A detailed program with information about registration is available here.
Jubilee Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad - 31/12/2021
In a Jubilee Epistle to the clergy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion writes: “In this special year of the 800th anniversary of the birth of the Holy Right-Believing Alexander, that wise diplomat and ruler, and the centennial of the I All-Diaspora Council – which took place from November 21 to December 2, 1921, in Sremski Karlovci – the Russian Orthodox people living in the Diaspora are called to augmented prayer, the doing of good deeds in all respects, and a private examination of the tablets of history, so that, by drawing from it much-needed strength and inspiration, they might continue in fortitude and renewal of spirit the patient bearing of their life’s cross. We celebrate anniversaries in our lives and honour the jubilee celebrant; so must we also unite ourselves in one common assembly and with great zeal confirm ourselves in Holy Orthodoxy, by no means shaming the memory of the Venerable Prince and of our ever-memorable forebears in the Diaspora, or the honour of our dear Mother – the Local Russian Orthodox Church”. The complete Jubilee Epistle can be read in Russian here and in English here.