Consecration of the Protection of the Mother of God Church in Le Bons Bay

“You have revealed the beauty of the holy dwelling place of Your glory on earth to be like the splendour of the heavenly firmament, O Lord. Through the prayers of the Theotokos, strengthen it for ever and ever and accept our supplication which we ceaselessly offer to You therein, the life and resurrection of all.” (Troparion to the Founding of the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem)

By God’s Grace the Russian Orthodox church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Le Bons Bay, on the South Island of New Zealand was consecrated on Saturday, October 29 2011. The church was built with the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad at the location of the annual children’s Summer Camp.

The consecration was celebrated by Metropolitan Hilarion, eight priests from the Russian, Serbian and Greek Churches and 70 laypeople.

The light rain and thick fog of Friday evening developed (against all weather predictions) into a wonderful warm and windless Saturday morning, with rays of sunlight burning off the lingering fog – the many participants of this spiritual festival, especially those involved in the preparations, clearly felt the presence of God’s Grace.

The construction of the church began in February 2007 under the guidance of Archimandrite Alexis (Rosentool) the spiritual father of the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Australia. Alexander Lebedenko, a Master Restorer of ancient wooden buildings from Novgorod led the construction effort with his apprentice Dimitry Basnin, Fr Eugene Kulanov, Fr Eugene’s brother Gregory and their parents. Also involved in the construction were Oleg Abelentsev, Gennady Kim, novice Thomas from Holy Transfiguration Monastery and many other volunteers. The construction of the church was finished in July of 2007 and the past several years have been dedicated to the construction of the bell-tower, landscaping and roadworks, repairs from the recent earthquakes, the renovation of the guest house and many other projects. Currently a library is being constructed.

The icons for the church were painted by Fr Alexis during construction in a small studio set up on site, the first being the Icon of Christ Not Made by hands, followed by the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God. The icons of Sts Nicholas, Sergius of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov were subsequently painted in Australia just prior to the consecration of the church. Galina Kim also helped in painting the festal icons that adorn the iconostasis. Also worthy of praise are those who put much effort into the embroidery that adorns the church.

The style and level of the iconography, architecture and construction allow one to speak of the creation of a temple in the traditions of an age when the spiritual state of the Russian Orthodox Church was at its highest, which will serve to build a temple within men’s hearts and invigorate our communication with God.

On the following day all the participants of the consecration led by their First Hierarch gathered at the Greek Orthodox church of the Dormition in Christchurch. With their good Shepherd the parishioners who were unable to come to Le Bons Bay together with the parishioners of the Greek church who were celebrating the 50 year anniversary of their parish continued the spiritual festival around the Throne of the Most High.

A Participant