St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church, Northern Ireland (IOCNI)

Loving God Growing Together

ABOUT OUR CHURCH

Our Mission

The mission of the Indian Orthodox Church in Europe and Africa focuses on three major realities:
1) Catering to the spiritual needs of the Orthodox faithful that have migrated and continue to migrate from India and abroad through the provision of accessible pastoral services and church facilities.  
2) Addressing the needs of the younger generation who live in a culture that is predominantly ‘western’ that does not require any affiliation with the traditional language or cultural practices of Kerala.
3) Extending the spirit of Christian fraternity and bilateral relationships to all sections of the local and wider community whilst remaining steadfast to the uniqueness of Orthodox life, liturgy, observances and traditions.

For Society

  
The Indian Orthodox Church, also known as the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, is an apostolic Church founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, who came to India in A.D. 52 and it belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family. It upholds the ancient and time-honoured ethos and ethics of Christianity and that of the glorious Indian culture.
St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church, Northern Ireland (IOCNI), is the one of the 30 churches in the United Kingdom/Ireland and comes under the Diocese of UK, Europe and Africa of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church with its headquarters in Kottayam, Kerala, India. It is under the jurisdiction of HH Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the ‘Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan’.
The Church is ‘episcopal’ in terms of administration, but at the same time, supported by the parliamentary democratic system with an Association of clergy and elected representatives from each parish of the Church. The faith, Order and discipline are vested in the hands of the Holy Synod, a college of bishops.
UK-Europe and Africa Diocese is one of the 30 dioceses of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Present diocese of UK-Europe-Africa was formed in 2009 and H. G. Dr. Mathews Mar Thimothios is the diocesan Metropolitan. In addition to the Belfast parish, there are 7 parishes functioning in the Republic of Ireland, who are in good rapport with the Church of Ireland and our parishes in Drogheda, Dublin and Cork have been, for long, using their Church buildings for worship thanks to the magnanimity of the Church of Ireland.
Currently, the Church follows the rites of the West Syrian Liturgical tradition. The Church adheres to the doctrines propounded by the forefathers through the three Ecumenical Councils held in Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (A.D. 381) and Ephesus (A.D. 431). The Church is in communion with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches, namely, the Coptic, the Syrian, the Armenian, the Ethiopian and the Eritrean. The Church is in good ecumenical relationship with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. The Indian Orthodox Church is one of the founding members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) It plays a vital role in the mission of spreading the Christ’s gospel of love and works towards the unity of humanity and is in the process of eradication of poverty from the face of the earth. Its ultimate aim is to live up a fruitful life for the glory of the holy triune God and for the extension of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Earlier, the Diocese was part of Canada, Europe and Africa and the late lamented Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios was the first diocesan Metropolitan. A detailed history of the church can be found here.
St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church, Northern Ireland (IOCNI) was started as a congregation in 2004. The job prospects in the healthcare sector within the HSCNI, NHS and the HSE in Ireland saw an influx of qualified migrants during the period mainly from the state of Kerala in India. As coming from a good practising Christian background, and out of spiritual zeal and love for Christ, the members of the Indian Orthodox Church living in and around Belfast city began gathering together under the spiritual guidance of the Revd.Sr. Deena (a nun who worked as a nurse at the NI-Hospice, Belfast) and Rev Fr Abraham Thomas, the then Vicar of St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in London.
The Divine Offices began to be conducted in the Indian vernacular language called ‘Malayalam’, for it being the mother tongue (which speaks to the heart) of the faithful who had gathered then and there and is still in vogue which enables us connected to our roots.
We have since then conducted regular worship at Shalom House (Across the road) and subsequently moved to the premises of St James in 2009.
The congregation was declared as a Parish by H.G. Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios, the first diocesan Metropolitan of the erstwhile Diocese of Canada, Europe and Africa in 2006.