(Registered Charity No. 1047287)

Newsletter No. 22: April 2012



STOP PRESS: Release of Abbot Ephraim

It was with great joy and relief that we received the news of Abbot Ephraim’s release from prison on 30 March 2012. In return for bail of 300,000 euros he is free to return to Mount Athos on condition that he reports regularly to the police in Karyes. The brotherhood were ecstatic and have asked us to publicize the news as widely as possible. For the latest news on this and other matters of Athonite interest see our regularly updated website ( and Facebook page.


The 2012 AGM: Saturday 16 June at St Anne’s College, Oxford

Following the pattern set at last year’s AGM, the day will start with a celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity and the Annunciation (1 Canterbury Road, Oxford OX2 6LU) at 9.00 am. All members and their guests, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox, are warmly invited to attend this Liturgy which will be served by our President, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia. The church is only five minutes’ walk from St Anne’s College where coffee will be available in the Mary Ogilvie Foyer from 10.45 am. As usual, proceedings will be chaired by Metropolitan Kallistos and will begin at 11.30 am. Once again there will be three talks.

                  In the morning, Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada (OCA), who is a Patron of the Friends, will speak on the subject of ‘Orthodox Monasticism in an American Context’. Metropolitan Jonah was raised as an Anglican in San Diego but  converted to the Russian Orthodox Church at university. He studied at St Vladimir’s Seminary, New York, and in 1993 went to Russia, becoming a novice at Old Valaam, Lake Ladoga. Returning to the States, he was ordained in 1994 and, with the blessing of the Abbot of Valaam and Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, he founded the monastery of St John of San Francisco in 1996. In 2008 he was made Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas, for eleven days before being chosen to become Metropolitan of the OCA. He is in the process of establishing another monastery for his episcopal residence in Washington, DC. His talk will look at how Russian and Athonite traditions have come together in the formation of a uniquely American and still integrally Orthodox monasticism.

                  Our second speaker is Fr Maximos of Simonopetra Monastery, who will give an illustrated presentation entitled ‘The Monk and the Maiden: Theophanes the Cretan and the Athonite Iconography of the Annunciation’. Fr Maximos is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and holds a PhD in Patristics from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He was for many years a professor at Holy Cross and Harvard Divinity School. In 2004 he left Harvard to become a monk at the monastery of Simonopetra where he has remained active as a scholar, writer, and translator. His current project is an edition and translation of the Ambigua of St Maximos the Confessor. He comes from a family of artists and painters and studied painting and the history of art at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His presentation will focus on developments in post-Byzantine wall paintings on Mount Athos.

                  Our third speaker is Peter Lea who will give an illustrated talk entitled ‘Georgia on my Mind’. Peter has been a member of the Friends for many years and has been on most of the pilgrimages. His talk will show highlights of last year’s trip to Georgia.

                  Throughout the day copies of our new publication, Mount Athos: Microcosm of the Christian East, edited by Graham Speake and Kallistos Ware, will be available at the reduced price of £21.00, an opportunity to save on postage and buy the book there.

                  A buffet lunch is available in the college and must be booked in advance (price £18.00). It is followed by the official business of the AGM itself and as usual there will be elections. Five members of the Executive Committee have reached the end of their term of office and will tender their resignations: Metropolitan Kallistos (Chairman), John Arnell, Dimitri Conomos, Simon Jennings (Treasurer), and Michael Naldrett. All five have indicated their willingness to stand again. Peter Lea has also been nominated for election to the committee. Any further nominations should reach the Secretary in writing at least one week before the meeting. Guests are welcome at the AGM but may not vote.

                  After tea there is a further opportunity to join the Orthodox community at 1 Canterbury Road for Vespers at 5.30 pm. The main language used at this service will be English.

                  Attendance at the AGM is free. The charge for attending the rest of the day (including morning coffee and afternoon tea) is £10.00 each (students £5.00). Completed forms and cheques (payable to the Friends of Mount Athos) should be sent as soon as possible to Michael Naldrett, Flat 2, 17 Primrose Gardens, London NW3 4UJ.


Project for the restoration of footpaths and wayside shrines and fountains

This spring another expedition, the twelfth, will be dispatched to the Mountain for a fortnight in May. The list for this year is already full and there is a waiting list, but the project leaders, John Arnell and Andrew Buchanan, will soon be assembling a team for next year and any members who wish to volunteer their services are encouraged to contact either of them (;


Pilgrimage to the Monastery of St John the Baptist, Tolleshunt Knights

This year’s pilgrimage will take place on Saturday 7 July. Both Orthodox and non-Orthodox members and their families and friends are warmly invited to participate. Those who are interested should contact the organizer, Dimitri Conomos (see separate sheet).


Pilgrimage to Serbia

This year’s pilgrimage, which will be led by Metropolitan Kallistos, is to the monasteries of Serbia and will run from 18 to 29 August. There are still places available and anyone interested in joining the group should contact the organizer, Dimitri Conomos (, as soon as possible.


Next Madingley Hall conference

The next conference at Madingley will take place over the weekend of 8-10 March 2013. The theme will be ‘Spiritual Guidance on Mount Athos’. The following have agreed to speak: Dr Andreas Andreopoulos (Winchester), Fr Maximos (Simonopetra), Metropolitan Kallistos (Oxford), Sister Seraphima (Oxford), Frs Kirill and Methodiy (St Petersburg), Sister Theoktisti (Larisa). Further details will be circulated in the autumn.