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 14 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 the COVID-19 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 also introduced sanitary measures 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; 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.
Attendance at church services
Updated 14 February 2021: From Saturday 13 February 2021 attendance at religious services throughout New South Wales is again subject to the two square metre rule. We are permitted 65 people in church because the total area of our church and choir loft is approximately 130 squares metres. As no more than 50 people generally attend services in our parish, restrictions have effectively been lifted for all but the very largest services. Such services include Christmas, Easter, and our parish feast-day when a bishop visits.
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.
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
Palm Sunday Collection for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem - 25/04/2021
On Sunday 25 April our parish will take up a collection to benefit the Russian Eccelesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. This collection is customarily taken up on this Sunday every year in all the parishes, monasteries and missions of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Collection envelopes will be available in church from the evening of Saturday 24 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.
Services on 24-25 April, Palm Sunday - 25/04/2021
On Saturday 24 April and Sunday 25 April we will have services for Palm Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Great Lent and the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil, and five loaves and the blessing of palms and pussy-willows will be served at at 6.00pm on Saturday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Sunday. As 25 April is Anzac Day, Divine Liturgy will be followed by a litia for all Orthodox Christian soliders, sailors and airmen who have died in war. At the end of the services on Sunday, a collection will be taken up to benefit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jersualem.
The April 2021 meeting of the Parish Council - 12/04/2021
On Monday 12 April 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 renovations and other proposed improvements to the parish facilities and grounds. The arrangements for managing attendance at the Easter services were considered, together with plans for our patronal feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas on 21-22 May. It was noted that the Ladies' Auxiliary, having received donations for this purpose, would be purchasing new blue and green covers for the altar table and icon stands. The Parish Council is due to meet again in mid-May 2021.
Services on 10-11 April, the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent - 11/04/2021
On Saturday 10 April and Sunday 11 April we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday 10 April was a day of commemoration of the departed, Matins was preceded by a general panikhida during which prayers were offered for the newly-reposed Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (+9 April 2021), Russian Orthodox clergy victims of the coronavirus, the ever-memorable departed clergy of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese, 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 Saint John of the Ladder and the significance of his life and work.
Services on 27-28 March, the Second Sunday of Great Lent - 28/03/2021
On Saturday 27 March and Sunday 28 March we had services for the Second Sunday of Great Lent. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday 27 March 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 (+23 March 1801), Metropolitan Laurus (Shkurla) (+16 March 2008), 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 Saint Gregory Palamas and his defence of the Orthodox Christian experience of God in prayer. On Sunday a collection was taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York.
Services on 13-14 March, the Sunday of Forgiveness - 16/03/2021
On Saturday 13 March and Sunday 14 March we had services for the Sunday of Forgiveness. 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 and the newly-baptised infant Gabriel Golovodovski received Holy Communion for the first time. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about forgiveness, the Lenten obedience of fasting and the approach to it set out in the Holy Scriptures, and Great Lent as a time to “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). Vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness was served immediately after Divine Liturgy.
Updated information concerning weddings in the Russian Orthodox Church - 13/03/2021
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.
Our Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services - 25/02/2021
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, Pascha and our patronal feast of Saint Nicholas. 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 will be available in church from the weekend of 27-28 February.
Church & Community Life
Archpastoral Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, to the Clergy and Flock of the Eastern American and Australian-New Zealand Dioceses - 01/05/2021
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".