Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church has been in existence for over 40 years. During that time, our parish has been pastored by 8 parish priests, and made history by being the first Orthodox parish in Australia to celebrate services primarily in the English language.
Our church was founded in April 1972 as a parish of the Orthodox Church in America by Archpriest Gregory Malisheff and other Russian migrants, who had been received into the OCA from ROCOR. Meeting the needs of the parishioners of the time, services were held in Church Slavonic. Originally meeting in homes, a house was purchased in 1974 and converted into a church – the same church we used for services today. However, in 1976, on Good Friday evening, Fr Gregory succumbed to cancer, which devastated the parish.
Parishioner’s needs were served by other OCA priests in Australia, and from Serbian Orthodox priests, before Fr Dimitry Obuhoff was appointed rector, serving from from 1976 to 1980.
In 1984, Fr John Jillions was appointed rector for a three-year term. A change of parishioners was seen due to the introduction of English and a differing pastoral approach – founding Russian parishioners left the parish, while young Greek parishioners began attending. In March 1986, Fr John led the parish council in declaring Holy Annunciation to be devoted to serving in the English language – a first for Australia.
In October 1987, Fr John Bartholomew was sent by the OCA to replace Fr John Jillions. Further, instigated by the OCA hierarchy, there was discussion over transferring to a canonical jurisdiction based in Australia – this was ultimately decided against at the time. After a short sojourn as rector, Fr John Bartholomew returned to the USA.
In 1989, Fr Ian Bojko was ordained to be rector of Holy Annunciation. He served for many years, and while his secular job forced him to cease serving as rector in 1995, he nonetheless continued leading services as well as he was able until illness forced his retirement in 2005.
A few years later, emboldened by the reunification of ROCOR with the Moscow Patriarchate, the parishioners approached Metropolitan Hilarion with the request to be accepted as a missionary parish serving in English – a proposal that was agreed by both the OCA and ROCOR. Fr John Weir was appointed rector, and with the first services on May 2009, he led the community in reinvigorating the parish. However, in early 2010, he requested to be relieved of the rectorate for personal reasons. Fr Michael Klebansky was appointed rector, and he organised for regular services.
Fr Alexander Borodin was appointed rector in July 2010. During his rectorate, the church was expanded (with an office), a disability ramp and choir cupboards were installed, the grounds were beautified, and long-standing parts of our church (the church floor, the veranda, the cupolas on the roof) were replaced. More clergy were ordained to serve at Holy Annunciation – two readers, along with Fr Andrew (subdeacon in 2011, deacon in 2012 and priest in 2014) and Fr Matthew (deacon in 2016). Education was made a priority, with public catechism courses and Bible study courses. 2015 saw our parish begin services for a small community of Orthodox Christians living in Toowoomba, which later grew into St John’s Mission. 2016 also saw the beginning of our Charity ministry, where our small parish gives to causes beyond itself.
In August 2017, Fr Andrew Smith was appointed rector, a position he remains in today. During his service thus far, parish education has continued, and a Men’s Group has been established.
The parish is currently the only full-time English-language Orthodox parish in Queensland, and one of only a handful in Australia.
We welcome those who have yet to experience Orthodox Christianity to come and see the riches of authentic Christianity; and we welcome those Orthodox Christians who wish to experience and explore the beauty of our faith in the English language.