Parish community

As the Holy Trinity, our God is One Being, although Three Persons, so, likewise, we ourselves must be one. As our God is indivisible, we also must be indivisible, as though we were one man, one mind, one will, one heart, one goodness, without the smallest admixture of malice - in a word, one pure love, as God is Love. That they may be one, even as We are One (John 17:22).

St. John of Kronstadt

We were blessed to receive a visit by our Archbishop Nikitas in October 2023.

On Sunday, 22nd October 2023, His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain made his inaugural pastoral visit to the Parish of St John of Kronstadt in Bath. His Eminence presided over the Divine Liturgy, marking a significant moment for the entire community. The choir, with its exceptional rendition of hymns, greatly contributed to the creation of a deeply prayerful atmosphere.

With a heartfelt welcome, Presbyter Richard Penwell, the dedicated Priest-in-Charge, and the congregation, representing a diverse array of backgrounds, warmly received His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas who was accompanied by Archdeacon Dr George Tsourous. The previous priest who served the community in Bath, Rev Oeconomos Seraphim Johnson, was also prayerfully present, as were several clergy from area Anglican parishes.

During this special visit, Archbishop Nikitas ordained Konstantinos Diadimas as a Reader and elevated Fr Richard Penwell to the position of Oeconomos. He then proceeded to bless the exquisite icons of the iconostasis, which were crafted by the talented Presbytera Tamara. Following the Divine Liturgy and a shared meal, His Eminence engaged with the parishioners in an interactive discussion, further deepening the connection between the clergy and the community. The wonderful hospitality reflected the deep bonds of community spirit, love, and unity in the community of St John of Kronstadt in Bath.

Where we are from

Our parish has members from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Syria, Eritrea, Egypt, Romania, Greece and Cyprus, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands - as well as the exotic locations of Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire! 


Parish Lunch

Sharing a meal together after the Liturgy has always been an important part of our community life and a way of welcoming visitors. You are welcome to join us after the Sunday service for lunch.

Some introductions

Father Richard Penwell
Parish Priest


I was born in Birmingham in the UK in 1961 and grew up in South Devon. In 1984 I graduated from the University of London with a BSc in Physics. I was received into the Orthodox Church in Bath in 1987 by Fr Yves. In 1988 I met my wife to be, Tamara, who at the time was staying in Bath in her gap year from Lublin University where she was reading English Philology. The following year we were married in Bialystok, Poland and have since lived in Bath.

Since living in Bath, I have worked in software development and business analysis roles in the manufacturing and retail sector. Tamara is an iconographer, having painted her first icon at a youth camp in her native Poland she subsequently had training from a number of iconographers and now works from her workshop here in Bath. I was ordained by Archbishop Gregorios, to the diaconate in 2014 and then to the priesthood in 2018. 

Tamara and I have three grown up chuldren.

Father Yves Dubois


I was born in 1938 in Brussels, read for a BA in philosophy at Louvain, a BD at King's London, then married Bett who read history at the LSE. I trained for the Orthodox priesthood at Saint Vladimir's, New York, was ordained priest by Archbishop Sylvester Haruns in 1966 in Montreal.

I served as parish priest at Saint Seraphim's, Dallas, Texas 1966-1967. Our eldest son Peter was born in North America. We returned to Britain in 1967, when our second son Nicholas was born on this side of the Atlantic. I served under Metropolitan Anthony at Ennismore Gardens 1967-1975, then was chaplain to the Convent of the Annunciation in Willesden 1976-1980. I taught French in a Benedictine school while in London.

Throughout the 1970s we visited the Monastery at Tolleshunt Knights one Saturday a month. In 1980 we moved to Bath to start the English-language parish of Saint John of Kronstadt, and I went on teaching French at another Benedictine school, Downside. Bett and I spent three weeks on a pilgrimage in Russia in 1968, and I have been back a number of times since.

In 1990 I became interested in interfaith work, beginning with contacts with the Jewish community. In the 21st century I also engaged with the Buddhist and Muslim communities in this country. Bett and I have very close Anglican and Roman Catholic friends, and were also close friends with Rabbi John Rayner and his wife Jane. John died in 2005.

In 2000, I passed on the role of parish priest to Father Seraphim, and Bett and I remain active in our parish.

Father Seraphim Johnson


I was born in 1948 in London, and grew up in Germany and Taunton, Somerset. I was received into the Orthodox Church in 1977 in London and got married at the same time to my wife Ann, who is American and has a BA (Hons) in French and History from Keele University. I gained a BA(Hons) in Sociology with Professional Studies (Careers Guidance).

In 1981 we moved to Bath to help start the Parish of St. John of Kronstadt. I worked for Social Services, working with the elderly, and latterly with clients with dementia as manager of an EMI Home. During this time, I qualified as a Social Worker, gaining the Certificate of Social Service. Later I worked for Age Concern. I retired from secular work in 2005.

Ann worked part time as a Special Needs teacher and latterly did private tutoring as well as care work. She has undertaken voluntary work with the Genesis Trust, our local charity for the homeless, for a number of years, along with other members of the parish. Recently she got involved in a project to welcome Syrian refugees. 

I was ordained Deacon in 1985 by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, and was priested in 1994 at the Feast of the Transfiguration by Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain. In 2000 I took on the role of Parish Priest.

Ann and I have four grown up children and four grandchildren

Mother Sarah  


I became a member of the Orthodox Church in 1975 while I was a student. In 1976 I graduated from the University of Lancaster with a degree in Religious Studies. In 1980 I moved to Bath with Fr Yves and Bett to help establish the parish here. The same year I was clothed as a nun and was professed in 1989 by Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia with a blessing to assist in the work of the parish.

I have a long experience of chaplaincy, both in a university and hospital context and have always greatly enjoyed this work. The chaplaincy at the University of Bath has recently established an interfaith team in which I am happy to be the representative of the Christian faith.

Parish Council 

Fr. Richard Penwell (chairman)
Charles Hetherington (churchwarden)
Chris Hetherington (treasurer)
James Jackson (secretary)
Mother Sarah
Fr. Seraphim Johnson
Ann Johnson
Philip Lytra
Zoe Bates

Minutes of meetings are available by contacting the secretary:

The Trustees

Fr Seraphim Johnson
Ann Johnson
Fr Richard Penwell
Mother Sarah
Ian Bates

Our community


The Convent of St John of Kronstadt is a monastic house closely connected with the Parish. It is the home of Mother Sarah and has also been the home of many others who have shared the life of the Convent and the Parish over the years.

Daily services take place in the chapel. Please contact Mother Sarah for more information.


Weekly reading group

A regular book group comes together on most Tuesdays to study a variety of biblical, patristic and other spiritual writings to see how they bring us closer to God.


Annual pilgrimage

Every Summer our parish makes a pilgrimage to the Saxon church at Bradford-on-Avon. The pilgrimage is in honour of St Laurence, to whom the church is dedicated, and St Aldhelm, the probable founder of the church. He was a 7th century bishop who founded many churches in Wiltshire and Dorset. After the Divine Liturgy we all share in a picnic on the lawn of this enchanting and ancient building.


Summer away day

In summer, we hold a one-day retreat where we pray together and discuss aspects of our life in Christ, as well as share a picnic and explore the delightful village of Nunney. Children are welcome, as well as grown-ups!

We have also taken ‘parish holidays’ together with a weekend spent at a retreat centre. Structured around morning and evening and services, there is more of an emphasis on getting to know each other better and enjoying time in the company of friends. The next holiday will be held in 2024.


Parish holiday

We have also taken ‘parish holidays’ together with a weekend spent at a retreat centre. Structured around morning and evening and services, there is more of an emphasis on getting to know each other better and enjoying time in the company of friends. The next holiday will be held in September 2024.



The Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain is an archdiocese of the Orthodox Church, part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Our Archbishop is Archbishop Nikitas Loulias. The territory of the jurisdiction covers Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.

Click here to visit the Archdiocesan website.

Wider community

The Genesis Trust, Bath

The Genesis Trust believes each person is unique and deserves the opportunity to lead a happy and healthy life. Their mission is to create a supportive and thriving community where everyone has a future.

Genesis brings the community together to offer immediate practical help to people who are hungry, homeless and vulnerable and provide long-term opportunities for them to rebuild their lives. They work individually with people on their journey from despair to hope, from crisis to independence.

Their ten interlinking projects span across the BANES area and support people at every step – from practical help, to long-term support and mentoring. As a Christian organisation everything they do expresses their values of hope and compassion, and they welcome everyone regardless of their faith.

Genesis Trust

Jope Hills Academy and Orphanage, Kenya

Twenty two years ago Mother Sarah and Karen Bates met Elekiah Andago at an Orthodox conference in Albania. He was a very joyful, friendly young Kenyan man who had us all singing Kenyan folk songs on the coach!

He is now the monk and priest Athanasios and with his savings he has helped to build a school and orphanage in his home village in Kenya.

St Paul’s God Jope Hills Academy is run to help raise standards of education and to improve the living standards of the people by offering education for the most needy in his area. There are about 170 pupils and this number is expected to increase.

With regular gifts by individuals in the parish, we are pleased to support this worthy cause far from home.

Jope Hills Academy & Orphanage

GOYGB Summer Camp

The Greek Orthodox Youth of Great Britain (GOYGB) run a summer camp each year in the Shropshire countryside for children and young adults to explore their faith and to make new friends and experience new things.

Many children from our parish have benefitted from this unique experience over the decades, and we are proud to support it. We hope that 2021 will prove just as fruitful as 2019. To get a feel for the atmosphere of the camp, click on the link below.

GOYGB Summer Camp

Christians Against Poverty

Founded in 1996 and now with the Archbishop of Canterbury as patron, CAP has rapidly grown a debt centre network and expanded its services to tackle the causes of debt and poverty.

As well as CAP Debt Help, they now help people step into employment through CAP Job Clubs, help people get control of their habitual dependencies through Fresh Start and a brand new service, CAP Life Skills, to equip people to live well on a low income.

CAP’s vision is to bring freedom and good news to the poor in every community through a nationwide network of CAP projects.

Christians Against Poverty

Guy’s Marsh Prison Chaplaincy

A small group from the Parish goes three times a year to pray Vespers with the prisoners at Guy's Marsh Prison Chaplaincy. This connection with the prison chaplaincy has been established over nearly thirty years and has always been a real blessing for the “visitors”.

The Environment

Our Patriarch Bartholemew has for many years been deeply concerned for the protection of God’s world. We follow him in doing what we can to be good stewards of creation.

Church New Year and Day of Prayer for Creation 

“For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the LORD God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations” Isaiah 61:11

The Parish Council agreed to participate in an environmental survey moderated by “A Rocha UK” a Christian environmental charity. The survey examined our environmental awareness and witness to our care of creation as well as drawing attention to areas was there is room for improvement. The survey looked at various aspects of our community life, teaching and worship, for example do sermons and teaching reflect our care of creation, do we pray for creation, do we encourage recycling and reducing waste? The answer to all these questions is yes.

As part of the survey we also learned that we bank with an “ethical bank” CAF Bank, so none of the parish money is being invested in projects which could harm people or the planet. Once the survey was completed our parish was able to apply for and be awarded an “Eco-Church Bronze Award”. Taking part in the survey has also prompted the Parish Council to consider other steps we could take to look after creation and perhaps work towards a “Silver Award”.

To encourage a love of the natural world and care for creation some of the younger members of the parish were given packets of seeds earlier in the year to grow their own Basil. In July members of the parish took part in the Young Christian Climate Network “Relay to COP26”.

Someone recently told me: “Climate change is such an important issue and needs so much prayer – I fear we may have left it too late…but with God, of course nothing is impossible”.

If you would like to include more “environmentalism” into your prayer life why not pray the Akathist “Glory to God for all things” which can be found by clicking here.