Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church has been in existence for over 50 years.
During that time, our parish made history by being the first Orthodox parish in Australia to primarily celebrate services 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 refugees from the former Soviet Union, 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 – which is the same church we use for services today. However, in 1976, on Good Friday evening, Fr Gregory succumbed to cancer, devastating the parish.
Between 1976-1978, the needs of parishioners were served by Igumen Dmitry Obuhoff; following this, needs were served by OCA priests based in Sydney, as well as local Serbian and Ukrainian priests.
In 1984, responding to the pleas of parishioners, Fr John Jillions [bio] was sent from New York to serve as Rector. He was sent for a fixed-term, with the direction to explore celebrating services in the English language.
During his tenure, this change of direction caused a change in parishioners: some parishioners left the parish; some parishioners of other parishes began attending in order to pray in English; and, these lifelong Orthodox Christians from various backgrounds were joined by a small number of people converting to Orthodox Christianity.
In March 1986, Fr John Jillions led the parish council in declaring Holy Annunciation to be a mission parish that would serve in the English language – a first for Australia.
In October 1987, the OCA sent Fr John Bartholomew [bio] from New York to serve as Rector. He would return in 1988.
In 1989, Fr Ian Bojko [bio] was ordained to the priesthood and assigned as Rector of Holy Annunciation. He served for many years, keeping the parish alive and ministering to the needs of its parishioners. While his service as Rector formally concluded in 1994, he nonetheless continued leading services until 2005, when illness prevented him from serving.
|A few years later,
following the reunification of ROCOR with the Moscow Patriarchate
and with the blessing of the Orthodox Church in America,
the parishioners formally petitioned Metropolitan Hilarion,
who was both First Hierarch of ROCOR and Archbishop of Australia,
to be received into the ROCOR Diocese of Australia and New Zealand
as an English-language missionary parish.
After the parish's canonical transfer, Fr John Weir was appointed Rector in May 2009.
He led the parish in its reinvigoration, including celebrating weekend and feastday services, catechising inquirers, and working towards capital works projects at the parish.
Then, in early 2010, Fr Michael Klebansky [bio] (Dean of Queensland) was appointed as Rector. He organised for visiting priests serve regularly at Holy Annunciation, until a priest was found to serve at the parish as Rector.
In mid-2010, Fr Alexander Borodin was appointed Rector. His tenure would prove to be a source of long-term stability. Major developments within his rectorate included:
- The physical church was greatly enhanced, including the driveway, access ramp, floor, windows, and cupolas;
- The Fr Ian Bojko Room was built;
- Education was made a priority, with public catechism and Bible study courses;
- The liturgical life of our parish was solidified, including obtaining liturgical items; over time, parishioners who were ordained included two readers, a deacon, and a priest;
- Additionally, 2015 saw services begin for a small community of Orthodox Christians living in Toowoomba, which would later become St John the Baptist Orthodox Mission, Toowoomba.
In 2017, Fr Andrew Smith was appointed rector of Holy Annunciation, where he continues to serve to this day.
Pictured on the right: Fr Dimitry Obuhoff and Fr Gregory Malisheff; Fr John Bartholomew and Fr John Jillions; Fr Ian Bojko; Fr John Weir; Fr Alexander Borodin; and, Fr Andrew Smith.