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 26 July 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 parish sanitary measures including the provision of hand sanitiser at the entry to the church; giving the faithful the option of not kissing the Holy Gospel, the icons, the chalice, the Cross, or the hand of the priest; cleaning icons regularly with methylated spirits; the provision of disposable napkins for use when receiving Holy Communion; and the provision of disposable cups from which to receive the warm water and wine (“zapivka”) after Holy Communion. 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. This has been cancelled for the duration of the current pandemic, a change to parish life that many have found difficult. We hope that face-to-face opportunities for much-needed Christian fellowship will become possible again soon.
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 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 worried about COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their own medical professionals. Noting that there are differences amongst the faithful concerning the newly developed vaccines, we encourage all to show kindness, patience, and mutual respect.
Attendance at church services
Updated 26 July 2021: Attendance at indoor religious services in regional New South Wales - that is, outside Greater Sydney - has, since Saturday 26 June 2021, been subject to the four square metre rule. We are permitted 32 people in church because the total area of our church and choir loft is approximately 130 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 services. This means that all are welcome to attend services on the understanding that it may not be possible to enter the church immediately or to remain inside for the entire service. It should be noted that under current Public Health Orders, face masks are mandatory for those attending services.
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
Services on 31 July - 1 August, the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - 01/08/2021
On Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August we will have 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 will be served at 6.00pm on Saturday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Sunday. As the COVID-19 situation in New South Wales remains unstable, our parishioners and friends are encouraged to monitor this website and NSW Government announcements concerning restrictions limiting attendance or requiring the wearing of masks at services.
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).
Services on 26-27 June, the First Sunday after Pentecost - 27/06/2021
On Saturday 26 June and Sunday 27 June we had services for the First Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday of All Saints and the Day of Youth of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As a result of COVID-19 restrictions that took effect in New South Wales on Saturday 26 June, attendance at services was limited to 32 people. At the end of Divine Liturgy a brief moleben was served for the young people of our parish and for all ROCOR youth. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the history of the commemoration of All Saints on the First Sunday after Pentecost and of this day as the ROCOR Day of Youth.
Services on 12-13 June, the Seventh Sunday of Pascha - 13/06/2021
On Saturday 12 June and Sunday 13 June we had services for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council and the Afterfeast of Ascension. 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. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, prayers of blessing were read over two new sets of vestments for the altar and icon stands, one green and one blue, ordered by our Ladies' Auxiliary from the sewing workshop of Saint Elisabeth Convent in Minsk, Belarus. Prayers of blessing were also read over new icons of Martyr Natalia and Saint Nina, Equal-to-the-Apostles, gifts to our parish from the Kuleschow family. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the history and accomplishments of the First Ecumenical Council.
Church & Community Life
Now available - the April 2021 issue of "Word of the Church" ("Церковное Слово") - 31/07/2021
The April 2021 issue of “Word of the Church” (“Церковное Слово”), the official journal of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, has recently become available in our parishes. This Paschal edition continues the beautiful glossy colour format introduced in December 2021. Content includes Metropolitan Hilarion’s Paschal Epistle in Russian and English; details of ordinations and clergy appointments; a list of living and departed clergy of the Diocese for commemoration in prayer; a letter from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in Australia to the NSW Attorney-General concerning confession and mandatory reporting of child sexual offences; a directory of clergy and parishes; ‘Christian Morals and Values Shaping the Future of the Russian World’, a paper presented at a seminar in Germany in 2015; and more. Copies are $5.00.