Sunday 28 February 2010

Friday photos sent to Athens

As I had informed you last week I was being away to Athens for a whole week.

But our good Project Manager has sent me the Friday pictures to Athens.

It is another great set of pictures taken from the crane.

They show clearly how much the whole project has progressed.

It is certainly very encouraging to see, especially, when you are away, these photos and follow the progress of this sacred project.

The pictures were taken the day before yesterday and show the dome, the Bell Tower and the barrel roof in the making.

Saturday 20 February 2010

"A Byzantine church in North London"

Mr. Alan Channer, a News Editor and Photographer, had visited our building site on 10th December 2009. He came on behalf of his Christian News Web Agency, called Christian Today.

On 6th February 2010 he published an article on their web-site about our sacred project. The article, entitled “A Byzantine church in North London”, is as follows:

In amongst the semi-detached houses and grassy gardens in suburban North London, a church with a distinctly Greek feel is starting to take shape.

Father Anastasios Salapatas has been priest of the St Panteleimon Greek Orthodox church in Harrow for the last 16 years. Until now he and his congregation have been gathering for worship at a local Anglican church, but with the community growing and in need of a larger meeting place, the time seemed right to take the plunge and get to work on a brand new church building.
They could have followed the modern day trend for simple, stylish and functional church buildings, but the congregation were unanimous in their desire for a church in the Byzantine style.

“We needed a proper Byzantine orthodox church building mainly because, ministering to our own people here, it reminds them of the architecture and all the other customs of where they are from,” he said.

Receiving planning permission was no problem - the council were rather excited at the prospect of having something “like St Paul’s Cathedral” in their neighbourhood, he quips. One person told him the church would be a landmark in Harrow.
Even with all the scaffolding and grey concrete base walls, the distinctiveness of the church is permeable. True to the Byzantine style, its interior is in the shape of the cross, while a dome, barrelled roof, apses, and painted icons on the inner walls will complete the look.
Construction on the new church got underway last July and the aim is to have the building finished in time to hold a Christmas mass at the end of this year.
“The community here is expanding all the time and this was something that was definitely and desperately needed,” said Fr Salapatas, who is also principal of the local Greek school.
For St Panteleimon, one of about 26 Greek Orthodox parishes in London, the new building is as much about making a home away from home for the congregation, as it is about passing on their customs and traditions to a new generation.
“The local Greek community here demanded this. It is not that people came from Greece and Cyprus to build churches here. These people came here to live and to work and because they demand this then we are serving them,” he explained.
“They are living away from their homeland and when you do that then you try to secure the continuation of the traditions and customs. You want your children to grow up the same way as you had grown up and experience the best possible way all the experiences that you had in your homeland. They make a lot of effort to do that, travelling many miles to bring their children to the church here to learn their native language. It seems that the people want to preserve the faith and traditions.”
Reflecting this desire, the church built a community centre three years ago where it runs a nursery and school for Greek children.
“We have many functions, social and cultural, and it’s important for the people to preserve their culture. The religion and the faith is a part of what they are. As we say to our students in the school, the soul has two sides. One is ethnic which is Greek and the other is religious side which is in our case the Orthodox, and they’ve got to find the balance and preserve both sides.”

In his 24 years as a church minister, Fr Salapatas has seen people leave the church only to come back, sometimes many years later, because they need the sense of community and the spiritual power for living that the church gives them. He hopes the splendour of the building will catch the curiosity of passersby and encourage them to come in.

“We pray in all our services for those who are not in the church building. We do not forget the part of our community that is not here with us when we have our services,” he said. “Through their lifetime, people will come and go from church. It’s like that all the time in all Christian denominations,” he added.
While Fr Salapatas may not be worried about statistics and church attendance, he is greatly concerned about the divisions within the body of Christ. “I find it quite stressful especially living in a multicultural and multi-religious society. It is very hard, this experience of not being together and coming together from time to time only for a social event. We cannot concelebrate as priests, we cannot have holy communion from the same holy chalice. That is very hard and stressful but we are working on that and we have to acknowledge that in the last few decades much work has been done towards unity. It’s not going to be realised very soon or very easily but now we talk.”
The dialogue, he says, is necessary because members of the Greek Orthodox Church are marrying Christians from other denominations and confusion is arising. He added: “We cannot stay divided and be happy about it. We are not and we are trying hard to make this dialogue and the aim is unification.”

Note: The administrator of this blog, Fr. Anastasios, will be on holiday from Sunday (afternoon) 21st February until Saturday (evening) 27th February.

Friday 19 February 2010

Another excellent view from above

The brave Andy Hogan has taken today some more great pictures from “God’s” headquarters.

They show how much the barrel roof has progressed.

We can also see the development on the Bell Tower.

But above all they show the progress on the dome.

At the moment the dome looks like a volcano’s crater, but soon will take its final heavenly shape.

Thursday 18 February 2010

The ring base of the dome

A very wet day today, but the works continue as normal at our building site.

The time has now come for the dome to be placed on the top of our new Church.

Intensive preparations are made today at the ring base of the dome.

According to our Project Manager tomorrow the ring base will be concreted.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Front Elevation is revealed

The Front elevation of our new Church has started being revealed.

Scaffolding is taken off slowly - slowly.

Now we can see more clearly the actual shape of our magnificent new place of worship.

In the meantime “God” (the crane that is) plays its own role.

Work now is well under way on the ring base of the dome.

Monday 15 February 2010

A member of our Community Youth

A young member of our Community, Harry Mouskis, who studies to become a Quantity Surveyor at Westminster University, had visited our building site today to see the new Church and to talk with our Project Manager about “Health and Safety issues”, as this is part of his course.

During his visit he took many pictures from various sites of our new Church.

Just three of those photos we publish here.

It is good to see how our new Church, before it is even finished, has already started becoming a focusing point for the Youth of our Community.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Great Lent begun!

Great Lent has just begun tonight. The season of Great Lent is the time of preparation for the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. It is the living symbol of man's entire life which is to be fulfilled in his own resurrection from the dead with Christ. It is a time of renewed devotion: of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is a time of repentance, a real renewal of our minds, hearts and deeds in conformity with Christ and his teachings. It is the time, most of all, of our return to the great commandments of loving God and our neighbors.
In the Orthodox Church, Great Lent is not a season of morbidity and gloominess. On the contrary, it is a time of joyfulness and purification. We are called to "anoint our faces" and to "cleanse our bodies as we cleanse our souls." The very first hymns of the very first service of Great Lent set the proper tone of the season:

Let us begin the lenten time with delight … let us fast from passions as we fast from food, taking pleasure in the good words of the Spirit, that we may be granted to see the holy passion of Christ our God and his holy Pascha, spiritually rejoicing.

Thy grace has arisen upon us, O Lord, the illumination of our souls has shown forth; behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the time of repentance (Vesper Hymns).

It is our repentance that God desires, not our remorse. We sorrow for our sins, but we do so in the joy of God's mercy. We mortify our flesh, but we do so in the joy of our resurrection into life everlasting. We make ready for the resurrection during Great Lent, both Christ's Resurrection and our own.


Friday 12 February 2010

The barrel roof

Our building team is working towards the completion of the barrel roof.

They are today organising the reinforcement for the barrel roof near the front elevation.

Many of the workers are occupied with that work.

Others are helping to complete the concreting of the Bell Tower.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Pigeons honour our new Church their presence

It was a nice surprise to see the pigeons visiting our new Church building today.

In actual fact they didn’t only visit us but they built a nest in the Bell Tower.

It is “traditional” for the pigeons to live in Bell Towers.

Thus, this discovery today signifies that our Bell Tower is a welcoming place for the winged creatures of God. It is certainly a good sign.

In the Song of Songs (2, 14) in the Old Testament we read the following sweet poem:

"O my pigeon, that art in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the steep place,
Let me see thy countenance,
Let me hear thy voice;
For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."

Wednesday 10 February 2010

The Bell Tower goes... higher

Today there was a visible development on the Bell Tower.

It is good to see that particular part of the Church complex being developing, as it signifies symbolically the offering of the Word of God into the world.

The actual Bells are on their way from Greece.

Soon they will be fixed on the Bell Tower.

Work continues today on the roof as well.

Monday 8 February 2010

The front wall

Our Architect Mr. Michael Neocleous has sent us today this front boundary draft drawing:

It certainly looks very impressive.

Thursday 4 February 2010

The view from... "God"

After yesterday’s “round tour” I thought of publishing today some other interesting photos.

They come from Andy Hogan, our Project Manager. Well done Andy!

He had paid a visit yesterday up on the crane, which is called “God” in building sites.

On his return... down to earth he brought with him some lovely pictures.

They show how the works develop on the top of our Church.

The new roof is nicely being prepared. We can even see the shape of the cross that is our ultimate aim.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

All around

Today I've decided to walk all around the new Church.

I thought of showing how the works develop and how the building looks from all sides.

Every time I enter the building site I am amazed by the commitment of all people involved in the construction of this Holy Place of Worship.

All workers always give 100% of their strength and this is certainly visible to anyone.

It is good to know that our Church is constructed by people who know what they do and have an understanding of the importance of this building.

They will always be remembered in our prayers, especially when we will start using the new Church.