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First Romanian Orthodox Church in Africa

12 January 2013

Archibhop Damaskinos of Johannesburg and Pretoria and Bishop Petronius of Zalău in the Sălaj County of Romania laid the foundation stone of St Andrew’s Romanian Orthodox Church in Midrand, Gauteng. It is the first Romanian Orthodox Church in Africa.

The foundation stone for the new church ready on a table with the Romanian flag. In the background is the Midrand Mosque, the biggest mosque in the southern hemisphere.

The foundation stone for the new church ready on a table with the Romanian flag. The daisy chains mark the outline of the new church. In the background is the Midrand Mosque, the biggest mosque in the southern hemisphere.

In 2001 Father Mihai (Mircea) Corpodean came to be a priest for the Romanian community, but since they had no church of their own, and the Churchy of St Nicholas in Brixton had just lost its priest, the bishop at that time, Metropolitan Seraphim, asked Fr Mihai to become p-0arish priest at St Nicholas. St Nicholas was started as a multiethic parish, and welcomed the Romanian community, and we still use some Romanian in services there.

Archbishop Damaskinos blesses the foundation stone of the new church

Archbishop Damaskinos blesses the foundation stone of the new church

It took the Romanian community quite a long time to find a suitable piece of land, and in 2008 Fr Mihai moved to New Zealand, and Fr Razvan Tatu came to replace him, and began tolding Romanian service at St George’s Hotel near Oilfantsfontein.

Laying the foundation stone

Laying the foundation stone

After the foundation stone was laid at the easternmost part of the new church, everyone young and old, came to add some cement, starting with the two bishops.

Cementing the foundation stone -- everyone present, young and old, took part

Cementing the foundation stone — everyone present, young and old, took part

At the end Archbishop Damaskinos spoke on the importance of the community supporting not just the laying of the foundation stone, but all the activities of the church. The laying of the foundation stone took place with the blessing of His Beatotude Theodoros, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, who is the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians in Africa.

Bishop Petronius said that he and Archbishop Damaskinos would be concelebrating the Divine Liturgy the next day in Romanian in the Archbishop’s chapel in Houghton, and invited everyone present to join in then.

Fr George Cocotos, Archbishop Damaskinos, Bishop Petronius, Fr Razvan Tatu

Fr George Cocotos, Archbishop Damaskinos, Bishop Petronius, Fr Razvan Tatu

Bishop Petronius also said that he was born on 30th November, St Andrew’s Day, and that clearly St Andrew, the Apostle of Romania, wanted him to come to South Africa to witness the extension of his mission on this occasion.

andrew10Apostle Andrew, the Holy and All-Praised First-Called

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ.

Troparion – Tone 4

Andrew, first-called of the Apostles
and brother of the foremost disciple,
entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world
and to our souls great mercy.

Kontakion – Tone 2

Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God,
the namesake of courage,
the first-called of the Savior’s disciples
and the brother of Peter.
As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us:
“Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!”

26 Comments leave one →
  1. D. C. Negus permalink
    12 January 2013 8:54 pm

    It was a historic event for the Romanian community of Gauteng and, through the effort and hard work of Father Razvan tatu, this happened finally today. may the Lord bless this holy place and help us unite in it and gain a voice in Africa!
    Dr. C. Negus

  2. Irulan permalink
    13 January 2013 9:45 am

    In the shadow of the minarets..

    How ‘missional’ would you describe the Orthodox church, Steve?

    • 13 January 2013 5:17 pm

      Aye, those Turkish minarets overshadowed the Romanian Church for hundreds of years, and 8000 kilometres away, they still do.

      About how missional it is, well I think reevangelising the Romanian disapora is probably more difficult than reevangelising the ones who stayed at home, after the Turks, and the communists. But the West, which escaped both the Turks and the communists, is perhaps more difficult still.

  3. 14 January 2013 2:39 pm

    I have to admit to some rather mixed feelings about such developments. Yes, so it’s probably meeting a pastoral need. But really, Orthodoxy’s (apparent) fixation on ethnicity can be a bit much!

    • Chris Jones permalink
      14 January 2013 6:13 pm

      “it’s probably meeting a pastoral need”

      I am very skeptical of this. I wonder what “pastoral need” there is, that cannot be met by a parish that preaches the Gospel to all who live in the community and serves the liturgy in the language (or languages) of the people who live there.

      I wonder whether the Patriarchate of Romania provides “German Orthodox” or “Hungarian Orthodox” parishes to meet the “pastoral needs” of Romania’s linguistic minorities. Somehow I doubt it.

      • 14 January 2013 6:48 pm

        Chris, just yesterday I was talking to someone who had attended the Slavonic Liturgy that the Russian priest from Johannesburg occasionally serves in Cape Town. The Church was packed and many of the people had a very minimal connection with the Church but came because it was something Russian. But some were also very moved, went to confession and expressed interest in finding out more about the faith. We may not like it, but such people would not easily go to a Greek or even an English Liturgy. That is what I meant by pastoral need and I suspect that something similar applies to the Romanian diaspora.

        Having said that, I really don’t like flags in Churches, or the ecclesiological contradictions involved. But then, it’s for the bishop to say what should be allowed, not me fortunately.

      • Chris Jones permalink
        14 January 2013 8:01 pm

        That is more or less what I thought was meant by “pastoral need” and it’s consistent with what I have seen expressed by (or about) “cradle Orthodox” over the years. But I would make two points about that:

        First, it seems to me that this is using something essentially extraneous to the Gospel (viz. “something Russian” (or Romanian, etc) ) to draw people into the Church in the hopes that, once exposed to the Gospel and the liturgical life of the Church, they will ultimately commit themselves to it. I’m not sure that is all that different from a coffee bar in the narthex or rock music in the sanctuary that you often find in Protestant churches here in the USA.

        Secondly, given that the Church’s resources are limited, assigning a priest to minister to the members of a small linguistic/ethnic minority means that that priest is not available to preach the Gospel and minister to the wider community. This sends the message that the business of the Orthodox Church is to “take care of our own” rather than to “preach the Gospel to every creature.” And it sends the message that the fullness of the Orthodox faith is only for “our people” and the heterodox confessions are good enough for everyone else. As an ex-Orthodox who now belongs to a non-Orthodox congregation, I do find that message comforting, since it seems that being Orthodox is not really necessary for salvation. But in actuality that message compromises the catholicity and apostolicity of the Orthodox Church.

        I don’t know what things are like in South Africa, but where I live in the United States (in a metro area of about 150,000) there are seven Orthodox Churches: five Greek, one Arab, one Russian, and none devoted to serving the entire locality regardless of ethnicity. That does not look like the Apostolic Church to me.

        • Alex permalink
          23 August 2015 5:37 pm

          as a Romanian and Orthodox, living in Romania I say that the Orthodox Church is apostolic, because it was founded by the Apostles(Romanians were among the first to be Christened, by Saint Andrew). And the Orthodox Church is divided into ethnical divisions because this served to the Christianzation of the first centuries Christians+ (most important)help preserve the Christian faith intact(unlike Catholics and Protestants). Romanians in particular had a very similar religion in the pre-Christian era(monotheists+afterlife)+they were baptized by free will and not forced by anyone(as Catholic nations-which have a date of christianization,the date when the king was converted). Orthodoxy doesn’t need nations anymore, since the globalization, but through the centuries , these two notions, the Orthodox Faith and the Romanian Ethinicty(or every other ethnicity) were much intertwined and helped us preserve our values.
          Unlike Greeks and Russians, the other Orthodox nations never had funds to extend, thus never becoming universal. russians in alaska, europe, asia and greeks in australia and america.

  4. 15 January 2013 6:02 am

    I’ve responded to some of these comments in the Orthodox mission discussion forum as I think the topic is an important one, and blog comments are not the best format for extended discussions.

  5. Cristina permalink
    30 April 2013 8:30 pm

    Can anyone please send me contact details for the church?

  6. Ioana permalink
    5 October 2013 9:44 pm

    everyone can contact Rev Dr Razvan Tatu at 0713 321 590. the church needs help from everywhere

  7. STEPHENS TEMA permalink
    12 November 2014 8:52 am

    But how possible is it,for the ancient faith of romanian to reach nigeria?we will welcome it and give it a place to stay

    • 12 November 2014 10:33 am

      The Bishop of Nigeria, Bishop Alexandros, used to be a parish priest in Sophiatown, Johannesburg.

  8. STEPHENS TEMA permalink
    30 November 2014 3:30 pm

    Could the ancient faith come to nigeria too,especially here in the middle belt part of nigeria.As GOD lives,we will give it a home to stay and establish…@fr tatu,george and mihai.

    • 30 November 2014 4:13 pm

      There is a bishop in Nigeria, will try to get contact details for you.

  9. 14 December 2017 4:59 pm

    Greeting, My Lord, I am from Islamabad Pakistan.I want to join Orthodox church. I did four years study in theology and I am teaching as a Bible teacher in Catholic school. Please help me in this matter. Stay in Lord Jesus Christ: Shafiq


  1. The First Romanian Orthodox Church in Africa « Fr Stephen Smuts
  2. The First Romanian Orthodox Church in Africa « Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
  3. First Romanian Orthodox Church in Africa | Far Outliers
  4. Visitors from Romania | Khanya
  5. Do you visit Romania when you’re bored? | Khanya
  6. Two visitors from the USA | Khanya
  7. Patronal Feast of St Andrew’s Romanian Orthodox Church | Khanya
  8. Sunday in Gauteng: Greek Liturgy, Romanian Temple, Turkish Mosque | Khanya
  9. St Andrew’s Church consecrated in Midrand, South Africa | Khanya

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