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Liturgy using a fixed altar?


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#1 Christophoros

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 06:26 PM

Does anyone know if there is any precedent for the Orthodox Church acquiring or gaining access to an old western church with a fixed altar, and celebrating the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on that type of altar temporarily or permanently? Are there rubrics anywhere for such a celebration? I'm sure it's been done at some point in the distant past, but curious if it has happened in more contemporary times in Europe or the Holy Land.

 

In Christ,

Chris



#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 08:43 PM

It is relatively common in England, where the majority of Church of England churches are several hundred years old, for sympathetic vicars to allow Orthodox communities who have no church of their own to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in their churches. Such was the case when I lived in Sheffield many years ago. Almost invariably, the altar in such churches is placed up against the east wall. All I have ever observed is that the priest censes the north, west, and south sides of the altar but obviously cannot cense the east side; he merely directs incense to the east wall. (Rarely, a very ancient church does have its altar away from the east wall in Orthodox style; an example would be the 10th century church of the Mother of God at Stowe near Lincoln where I have attended the Liturgy a few times.) As far as I am aware, there are no special rubrics and the priest adjusts his celebration of the Liturgy accordingly and in all other respects serves in the prescribed manner.



#3 Phoebe K.

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 09:37 PM

Many parishes in the UK ether share a church building with Anglicans or Catholics, and ether there alter table is used  or a mobile Alter is used (normally to move the Alter closer to the people if there are a large number of steps involved or a long distance from the Alter to the nave).

 

One Parish I attended where we have use of a Catholic Church which is more recent in construction so the Alter table is in the middle of space so the rubrics are followed as written.  I have also been to two Churches which are ether owned by or the Orthodox have sole use of where for practical reasons a Alter Table is placed closer to the people than the east end as it is more practical for the clergy as the fixed alter is ether a long distance from the nave or the steps would make it difficult for the clergy.  Another Parish I attended for a while used an early medieval Church which had a fixed Alter and our priest adapted to the lack of space by using the rubrics which worked in the limited space as it was a very small building.  I have found that in my experience it depends on what is more practical for the clergy as to if the alter present in the church is used or a table closer to the people.

 

I would note that few Churches in the UK have fixed Alters now and if they are they tend to be away form the east wall as the common practice for most non-Orthodox is to celibate facing the people.  The churches which have a fixed alter at the east wall were mostly built by the Oxford Movement or are lager churches or cathedrals which often have a parish alter which is a movable table (although the table is normally covered so unless you know it can look like a fixed altar).  Most of the fixed Alters were destroyed during the reformation and replaced by tables due to the theology of the reformers, although some churches retained their stone alters (these mostly being the cathedrals and some of the large churches often ones in privet hands not the state church, or small remote chapels which were forgotten).



#4 Christophoros

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 09:58 PM

Interesting… Has there been any Orthodox congregations in the UK which acquired Anglican or Roman churches with an older altar (with an altar piece/reredos), and chose to retain the altar for its historical beauty, or because the cost of removing it or renovating is prohibitive? In the United States, many old Roman churches are being closed/demolished/sold because they simply don’t have a congregation anymore and they have rather stunning old altars. (Setting aside the issue of images of non-Orthodox saints, or even statues of Orthodox saints for the moment…)



#5 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 11:01 PM

Most historical churches are grade 2 listed in the uk so altars cannot be removed, in such cases should the altar be unsuitable for Orthodox use another is set up in addition to it. this is the case in Birmingham Cathedral and a parish in Wales which I sometimes visit though in both cases this is not because it is set against the east wall but for other reasons. In my own parish our church dates back to when England was still Orthodox (before the Norman conquest) possibly to the reign of King Alfred the Great, however it was used as a barn for the last century before we bought it so there was no altar left in there.



#6 Phoebe K.

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 11:16 PM

Most old Churches in the UK it is not possible to change the structure of the church as it is listed, for the most part public buildings need planing permission for things above cosmetic changes.  If the building is listed which many old churches and a good number of newer ones which have architectural interest are there are a lot more regulations to deal with.

 

A Priest I know is in the process of rassing money to restore a 17th century church which is listed, he hopes to use it as the Church of the monetary his is in the process of founding, but had to work at the permission even to have an iconastances due to the rules around listed buildings.



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 09:47 PM

Because the Church of England is the state church, it is no easy matter to acquire one of its church buildings. Most Orthodox parishes in England are Cypriot and the Cypriots often have acquired a former Methodist church. The Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex did acquire the former All Saints church from the C of E. This is an 12th century church (with later additions - the south porch is probably from 1500). It seems it was possible to arrange the altar in Orthodox fashion but it is a listed building and so there are great restrictions on what can be done generally inside as well as out.






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