Can I join any Christian denomination that I like or is there a Church that God wants me to be in?
In memory of Reverend Fr. Dennis Moffatt (1935-2010)
Written by a spiritual child of Fr. Andreas Michailidis and Fr. Dennis Moffatt. Edited by Fr. Dennis Moffatt.
Why shouldn’t I chose any Christian denomination that I like? Is it possible that I am not serving God when I do that? Is the denomination that I want to join or I belong to founded by Christ and His Disciples or did some ’ordinary’ men decide to found it for reasons that might be disputable? Is there a Christian denomination today that was founded by our Lord’s Disciples themselves? How can I know? Who founded this Church and why mine could be a heresy that the New Testament warns against(!)? Does my denomination adhere to the unity of Christianity or has it been unknowingly causing divisions to God’s Church of which the Disciples warned against in their letters? Could a denomination that I’ve never heard of be the ‘earliest ancestor’ of my denomination? Is it possible that this denomination existed well before mine was founded? Why is this possible and how did it happen?
This text is a product of many hours of research, discussions and exchange of views and information with Fr. Dennis Moffatt as well as Fr. Andreas Michailidis on the problem of Christian heresies with one of their spiritual children. Unfortunately, this was not published when Fr. Dennis was still with us. We pray that you spend some time reading the whole text as there is vital information about the early Christian Church that the Disciples founded. This Church has been existing for 2000 and more years, but schismatic and heretical movements from within the ‘original’ (if we could use this expression) Christian Church have led to many people in various parts of the world nowadays thinking that the Early Church has been lost somewhere in history. You will most likely be very surprised by some of the information below, which of course you can try to double-check its validity from other sources of information as well.
“the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” [Acts 11:26]
Fr. Dennis Moffatt was a priest at the St Columba & St. Kentigern parish of the Antiochian Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (British Antiochian Deanery), which is in communion with all the canonical Orthodox Churches and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Fr Andreas Michailidis is a priest of the Church of Thyateira and Gr. Britain of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
It is a big responsibility to publish this text as this could affect people’s lives. The compilers of the text (the author and Fr. Dennis Moffatt) have tried to give a minimalist snapshot of Orthodoxy’s vast depths, but, due to their unworthiness, they may be erring somewhere without being aware of it. For this reason, Our Lord Jesus Christ please protect all readers from any harm that could be caused by possible inaccuracies in the text which might go against Your teachings and our Father’s Will. Please help us all to find You the unaltered Truth.
The following information is for people who might like to know a bit more about the Orthodox Christian faith.
As you read the following information please keep in mind that our purpose is not to create a fear in you and force you to become Orthodox. Our aim is to provide you with information that you cannot easily find on your own, which you might want to evaluate and hopefully investigate further.
A lot of people are thirsty for the way the early Christians could absorb in their everyday life the Christian faith and a lot of relatively new denominations try to revitalize that spirit because they feel that this spirit is not in their church. What they miss is that the Holy Spirit has been in the Church for almost 2000 years now and has humbly and unceasingly led the Church. But which is this Church? What most of us don’t know is where the Church is and we confuse the Church with various denominations. Please read all the way through this text and just take the information without necessarily accepting it. Then try to find ways of testing if it is true. If it is then you might find that you are still spiritually thirsty because you might have confused (not with your responsibility) various denominations of Christianity with our Lord’s Church. We would kindly ask you to visit the web sites (at the end of this text) with prophecies that were given (some of them centuries ago) about heresies that would ‘show up‘ in Christianity‘s history.
It is common and understandable that some people in some countries may see with suspicion the Orthodox Church (Orthodox comes from the Greek words ‘orthos’ meaning right/correct and ‘doxa’ meaning belief/praise) due to ignorance of Christianity's history and evolution, thinking that it's 'just another' small denomination, just another option. It is not just ‘another option‘! The main concern of the Orthodox Church has been, for approximately 2000 years now, to preserve unchanged and with outmost reverence, without additions (like the Roman-Catholics) and without subtractions (like the Protestants or other heresies/denominations) the teachings of Christ and His Disciples. At the end of this text is a list of Patriarchates and Churches that shows how old and widespread the Orthodox Church is throughout the world. There might be a very big surprise for you when you visit the links of the Orthodox Patriarchates or investigate their history, as you will see a Disciple of Christ being the very first bishop of each one of them.
It is important for all Christians to try and find out information about our faith and how it relates to the days of Christ and His Disciples. We need to investigate our history. A good starting point could be
‘A pocket Church History for Orthodox Christians’ (you can read the text of the booklet at: http://www.allmercifulsavior.com/history/Orthodox-History.htm)
It is important for us to know how the Christian faith started and evolved. It is important to know that soon after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Apostles and missionaries travelled in the world to spread the Gospel. Starting from 33 A.D. five major locations of the Christian faith were established. Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and Byzantium (renamed Constantinople by Constantine) by some of the Apostles themselves and not by ‘ordinary’ men like most denominations. These were the first five Patriarchates of Christianity (information about 4 of them that remain united and Orthodox are at the end of the text). They were officially undivided and in communion despite several problems over the years up to 1054 A. D. They were (and some of them still are) the most important leading centres of Christendom, of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as stated in the Nicene Creed. Please bear this in mind as it will be a very important point of debate later on in this text.
In 1054 the Roman-Catholic Church (known today as Catholic) officially broke its union to the other 4 Orthodox Patriarchates that remained and remain united even today. After a few centuries the Protestant churches emerged by breaking away from the Roman-Catholic Church, because they ‘felt’ something was going wrong in the spiritual direction of the Vatican which was the Episcopal See of Western Europe. You don't have to accept what is in this text, but life might help you to build a 'puzzle of information' by prayer, longing to get closer to God, reading the Holy Scripture and research about the Early Fathers of Christianity and possibly end up accepting what you read. What we may also realize from studying our history and Bibles is that the Christian heresies (what most people would think of as denominations) are not merely options from which we can chose whatever suits us best, but wrong (to various degrees depending on the heresy) interpretations (reasons given below) of the early teachings of Christianity, in other words the teachings of Jesus Christ the Son of God and His Disciples! Through the study of our Christian history we may find out that they are mainly a bi-product of the Great Schism (a split up) that took place in 1054 between the Eastern Church (Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Patriarchate of Antioch, Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Alexandria) and the Western Church (Patriarchate of Rome). If you read about the Great Schism, you will easily see that the reasons for the Schism and the way it took place has nothing to do with the Christian spirit of Christ and His Disciples. It was a disgraceful moment in our history and it had very serious consequences for Christianity mainly in western Europe as it caused a lot of heresies to emerge in the centuries that followed.
If we think that such a thing (following a wrong teaching) is not so important maybe we should consider the following example. Heaven is a destination for Christians (a bit like wanting to go from York to London) and Jesus Christ the Son of God with His Disciples gave us the 'route'. By slightly altering the teachings we slightly alter the route, so we risk not ’arriving’ at our destination (a bit like not following the signs that point to our destination on a road or not following the suggestions of a recipe or not following the directions on a SAT-NAV!). Another important issue is unity of Christians. There are denominations that sometimes ‘complain’ that the 'traditional/old' denominations (Orthodoxy and Catholicism) don't acknowledge them. If we truly want unity we shouldn't be starting a 'new church' for whatever reason because we become the cause of a new split up and we establish the split ups in Christianity (God’s Church!) something that goes against the prayer of Jesus Christ to Our Father (to remain united John 17). You can read also Apostle Paul’s view on that matter (Galatians 1, Corinthians 1, ch. 3). Additionally we may be responsible to God for any lost souls because of our split up (new church) as we are bound to be wrong if we alter the meaning of God’s teachings (Galatians 1:8-9). Imagine now many people doing that. What they achieve, if most or all of them are wrong, is to make it harder for people that genuinely want to approach God to find the 'right way or ways’ in what looks to be a 'multitude of options'.
Let’s have a look at some parts of the New Testament:
16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (that was said to the seventy apostles)
Please remember that some of the Apostles were the founders of the 4 old Orthodox Christian Patriarchates (plus Rome the 5th Patriarchate until 1054) as well as their very first bishops.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Please remember that the Apostles covered on several occasions in their letters the matter of heresies and said very specific things. We cannot ignore them based on the above.
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 CORINTHIANS 3
1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
Some denominations can be a bit hostile towards the (Orthodox) Church, but what they don't realize is that by doing so they oppose to the Church that Christ's Disciples founded as you can easily see from the founders of the Patriarchates further down in this text. If we do some research (without taking into account anything of what is in this text) we may find out that most denominations that are known in the West are a product of some people at some point in time deciding to start a new 'church' mainly out of the Catholic Church (which broke the links with the other four Orthodox Patriarchates Patriarchates as you can see in the timeline of Church history) due to political, personal, and dogmatic reasons. This is repeated later with the Protestant and Anglican churches as newer churches were founded out of them. In other words, nowadays, most denominations (apart from the Orthodox and the Catholics) do not have any direct historical succession with the Apostles and the Seventy Apostles of Jesus Christ. Quite often a lot of denominations go against vital teachings of Christ, His Disciples and the Early Fathers of the Church, as well as the Patriarchates that the Disciples themselves founded. They do that especially regarding the unity of the faith simply by creating a new 'church' and then gradually all sorts of changes can start taking place that go against the Bible. Minor changes every now and then result in big changes over a long period of time. It is sad to see a worldwide game of Chinese whispers taking place on such a serious matter, because it has serious consequences to our lives. It is sad that quite often people from several newly-born denominations/heresies believe that the ‘original whispers’, stemming from the Orthodox Patriarchates that the Disciples founded, are ’wrong’! It is not their fault, but they pay the price of their christian ancestors who dared to divide God’s Church by creating a ‘new christian church’. Christianity struggled from the early years with heresies to remain as almost one body of Christ until 1054 A.D., but nowadays there is an estimate of 2500 Christian denominations or rather heresies!
The problem of heresies is very important as it was highlighted by the Disciples. People often forget that the Church does not belong to the people, but to God. We are called and allowed to be part of the Church and when we make her our ’property’ and change things or doctrines, we change what God gave to us for our salvation! Are we wise enough to dare and dispute or challenge His Wisdom? But what makes some interpretations of Scripture wrong? The Reverend Metropolitan of Gortys and Megalopolis Ieremias Fountas (Doctor of Theology, Professor of Theology at the University of Athens and a specialist in Old Testament interpretation), a very humble man, said on a radio station in 2010 in a very humble, gentle and careful manner that in order to have an orthodox (ortho dogma = correct dogma/doctrine) interpretation of the Holy Scripture, this interpretation, if it is properly analysed, should not contradict another part of the Scripture. In addition in the interpretation of a Scriptural passage we should not contradict the Tradition (not the tradition) of the Church. That is quite hard and not many people know about it even among Orthodox clergy according to his words. Heretical interpretations go wrong because often they don’t take into account all the aforementioned simultaneously and that is how someone can distinguish them. So some really important factors in Christian life are unity, coherent no contradictory interpretations and continuity of the Tradition as handed by the Apostles for reasons that were mentioned earlier in this text. Apparently, we as human beings failed to achieve that with our intellectual abilities and this is why we ended up shattering God’s Church into smaller pieces and having nowadays so many so-called ‘churches’. It is our work not bad luck and the answer is our lack of humility and acceptance of the Scripture as it is and in its entirety simultaneously and all the time.
Does my church use the Nicene Creed? There is a part in the Nicene Creed that says (I believe) in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This is in the Creed for a reason and when we say the Creed as Christians we have to mean what we say or at least try to. If you investigate the history of The Creed you will see that it was created and used to distinguish Orthodox Christians from heretics throughout centuries and all its articles have a very important meaning and purpose. How many churches that use the Nicene Creed ‘mean’ or understand these words nowadays? How many people know the purpose of its existence? How are they part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church when they are not part of the Church that has the Apostles as her founders and their very existence is a cause and affirmation of divisions of the One Church? It is like saying the Lord’s prayer where we ask from God to ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ and at the same time refusing to forgive people that have done something wrong against us. In effect we ask from God not to forgive us! Why don’t the heretics unite with the ‘Old (the Orthodox) Church’ when the Orthodox Church has been keeping the doors open to their return? These are very serious questions that some religious leaders avoid to answer or maybe they cannot answer. If you deeply think about them, these questions are the cause of many problems in Christianity nowadays. Some Protestants argue that their beliefs are ‘Orthodox‘. How can that be true when Orthodox beliefs and interpretations can only exist inside the One Church and only when they serve the Church’s unity? This is a wrong understanding of what ‘Orthodox’ means. Their beliefs seem to be Orthodox but they are not. We explained what is an Orthodox interpretation earlier on. We cannot adopt ‘some’ Orthodox (correct) views at the same time contradict others and say that these views are Orthodox. Experienced spiritual Fathers can easily and very reasonably explain seeming contradictions in the Bible. Not everyone can do that.
Now let’s see how it could be possible that we don’t allow God’s Will to be done on earth through a heresy. Consider the following example: One person says to another one that he bought something for £20. The second person cannot remember the exact price and says to a friend that his friend bought the item for £21. He is telling a ‘lie’ without wanting it, but this is not far from the ‘truth’. Let’s assume that the 3rd person tells to a friend of his that the first person of this story bought the item for £22 on purpose. Let’s assume that several people after them say to their friends the price of the item. Some of them say £22, some of them say more. All of them do NOT know the real price! Some might find the actual price by pure luck! Some of them might add to the price unintentionally and some others intentionally for their own reasons. It is possible that after a lot of small alterations and additions some people end up hearing that the price of the item was £35 or £40 or £50 or £100! How far are they now from the truth? The biggest problem comes now. If the 2nd person remembers the actual price how can he change the ’lie’ that started going round? If the 1st person says I bought this for 20 pounds other people might not believe him because they trust more ‘their friends’ to tell them the truth! In the same way heretical views may make someone unable to believe what the Church of Christ and His Disciples are saying. Experienced fathers and monks understand that small ‘innovations’ after a substantial period of time can eventually lead to a complete distortion of the Truth. If you think that this is an exaggeration you might be surprised to know that a ‘christian’ cult in the late 70’s after the name ‘Children of God’ were using a ‘preaching’ technique called ‘flirty fishing’. This technique involved a woman having intercourse with a stranger to persuade him to follow Christ. How far was the message of the ‘preachers’ of this cult to the women who joined thinking they are followers of Christ? This cult was interpreting passages of the Bible to justify these actions!
People from non-Orthodox denominations are not considered as bad or evil, but people with (in most cases) genuine love towards God, that have sometimes misleading information at hand due to problems of the past and severely wrong decisions of people with power and influence that affected masses of Christians after them. Some of us that belonged to other denominations we could think of ourselves as being brought (born) to a bus (a place) that a driver (a person with power in our organized church) for whatever reason took the wrong exit at a roundabout (wrong decisions about the direction of the 'new church') many years before us and now we have to deal with the consequences that are not our fault. By reading the above someone might think that it is implied that all the Orthodox Christians will go to Heaven just because they are Orthodox. This is not implied by any means as it is for God to decide what will happen to each one of us.
If you read this text you may feel confused with all the denominations/heresies out there and we realise it is not easy at all to find out that you might have been following a wrong teaching. You may feel like you are at a 'roundabout with many exits', even 'exits' that might prove a U-turn later in your life for example rejecting (possibly again) a denomination. The best thing you could possibly do is to pray to God with all your heart to help you find the right exit, the one that leads to Him in Truth. Another helpful thing could be to try and investigate from independent sources too, how many of the things mentioned in this text are true (don’t take our word for it!). It would be extremely useful to find information about great Saints of the Church like St Basil the Great, St John Chrysostom, St Seraphim of Sarov, St Antony the Great, St Gregory of Nazianzus, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Athanasius the Great, St John Climacus, St Euphemia, Dionisius the Areopagite, St Gregory Palamas, St Maximus the Confessor, St John of Damascus, St Callistratus, St Pelagia of Antioch, Mary of Egypt, St Symeon the New Theologian, St Kosmas Aitolos, St Longinus, St Ambrose, St Spyridon the Miracle-Worker, St Eleutherius or more recent holy and miracle making figures like Elder Cleopa, Elder Porphyrios and Elder Paisios the Athonite.
All the historical facts are not stated as accusations towards any person in history as we all make mistakes, but as mere facts that historians and theologians report.
If after reading all this you are interested in visiting an Orthodox church here are some important things to remember:
EPHESIANS 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.
First of all, not all Orthodox Christians and of course not all Orthodox priests have at hand the same spiritual knowledge, so sometimes you may have to be a bit patient until you find what or who you personally are looking for to help you in your spiritual life.
We can't wait to become 'purer' before we approach God and go to church as this is beyond our human nature. It works the other way around. We need to get closer to God and go to church so that God will make us purer. Sin (a mistake) is the break of being in contact with God. The consequences of that are the actions that we tend to call sins like stealing, killing, insulting, exploiting human beings etc. So if you think you are sinful (you make mistakes) and shouldn't go to church for that reason, this would be a big mistake. Do not go against our Lord's words (Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance) who came in this world to save sinners like the rest of us who go to church. Going to church is like going to a hospital (think of the church as a spiritual hospital). We go to the hospital when we are not well so that we can get well. The more ill we are the more we need to go to hospital. We don't wait to get well before going there. The same is true for our spirit. However, we won't stop sinning. The severity and frequency of sins will diminish for some of us gradually, for others suddenly. After this statement we may wonder why should then someone make any effort to sin less when sinning won't stop? The answer is in the following question: Since we are going to have our hands or bodies dirty again, why should we wash them? This is our only way due to our human weakness to get closer to God and through His Grace, Love and Compassion get absolution of our sins and inherit His Kingdom. Think of this analogy. We try to keep our bodies clean, but they will never stop getting dirty again. Cleaning the body regularly, helps us to feel better and get close to other people without them feeling repelled. Since man is body and soul shouldn't we do the same for our souls to maintain body and soul at a 'relatively clean' state so that we can approach God? Wouldn’t that help to approach other people without them feeling repelled by our characters? Wouldn't it be better if every morning after we wash our faces we say our morning prayers to 'wash' and 'refresh' our souls and try to get on our way to Heaven? This is a very simple analogy, but there is more depth that someone can find as he/she advances spiritually.
Please remember the more sinful we are the more we need God. God can forgive anything. Even a multitude of murders. Why? Because He is a Father. If you have children and one is very naughty and always puts the other children into trouble you don’t kill that child to protect the other ones. If that child killed another of your children you would be very unhappy for the death, but you wouldn’t be able to kill that child, because of your love for him/her. If that child asked for forgiveness after understanding the mistake, wouldn’t you forgive your child despite the pain that you would still have for the lost one? Since God loves each one of us more than any parent can love his children, how could He not forgive anything that we’ve done wrong? He can forgive our neighbour who might have killed a beloved one of ours.
Below you can see some useful information.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Andrew the Apostle founded the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Byzantium (later renamed to Constantinople). He appointed Stachys (one of the Seventy Apostles of the Lord) as the first bishop of the city of Byzantium in 38 A.D. His All Holiness Bartolomew is the Ecumenical Patriarch since 22 October 1991.
http://www.patriarchate.org/patriarchate/patriarchs (list of Patriarchs including Apostles)
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem and All Palestine
The first Christian Church was founded in 33AD in Jerusalem immediately following the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. His Beatitude Theophilos III is the Patriarch since 2005.
http://www.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/en/patriarx_iero.htm (list of Patriarchs including an Apostle)
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Apostles Paul and Barnabas set up the Antioch see (Church) in 42 A.D It was then acceded for eight years (43 - 53 A.D) by Saint Peter as its first prelate who proceeded to establish other churches. However, there are well documented historical views that Saint Peter established the Antioch see with the help of Apostles Paul and Barnabas. He was succeeded on the Antioch office by Aphodius. His Beatitude Ignatius IV is the Patriarch of Antioch and All East since 2 June 1979.
The Patriarchate of Alexandria (and all Africa)
St. Mark the Apostle and Evangelist founded the church of Alexandria around 40 A.D. And was the first bishop. His Beatitude Theodoros II is the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa since 9 October 2004.
http://www.patriarchateofalexandria.com/index.php?module=content&cid=001003 (list of Patriarchs including an Apostle)
After the first five Patriarchates in later years more Patriarchates were founded. These are the Patriarchates of: Moscow, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia.
Autocephalous and other Churches
Some of these are the Churches of: Cyprus, Greece, Albania, Poland, Czech-Slovakia, Finland, Estonia, Japan, Ukraine.
Some of these are the Archdioceses of: America, Australia, Crete, Thyateira and Great Britain
Metropolises of the Throne
Some of these are the Metropolis of: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Korea, Buenos Aires, New Zealand, Hong Kong,
Orthodox Monasteries in the UK
The Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist (Tolleshunt Knights, Maldon, Essex
One of the best places to find a wide variety of Orthodox books. A must visit place for all Orthodox Christians of the UK and those interested to know more about Orthodoxy)
Suggested reading for people who start discovering the Orthodox Christian faith:
Concise and easy to read:
A pocket Church History for Orthodox Christians
What does Orthodoxy mean? the Doctrine, worship and values of the Church (online version of the booklet: http://www.antiochian.org/node/16915)
Finding the New Testament Church (online version of the booklet: http://www.antiochian.org/node/16918)
Easy to read:
The Orthodox Way (by Kallistos Ware)
The Orthodox Church (by Timothy Ware)
The Way of a Pilgrim: And the Pilgrim Continues His Way
Wounded by Love (by Elder Porphyrios)
Titles for future reading if you are just discovering Orthodoxy
(a small selection)
The Divine Ladder (by St John of Sinai)
On Marriage and Family life (by St John Chrysostom)
Unseen Warfare (by Lorenzo Scupoli - author, St.Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain - editor, Theophan the Recluse - editor, and E. Kadloubovsky - translator)
The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the Teachings of True Christianity (by Elder Cleopa of Romania)
We Shall See Him As He Is (by Elder Sophrony Sakharov)
On Prayer (by Elder Sophrony Sakharov)
Saint Silouan, the Athonite (by Elder Sophrony Sakharov)
On the Holy Spirit (by St. Basil)
Facing the World, Orthodox Christian Essays on Global Concerns (by Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasios)
The Orthodox Faith volume i - Doctrine (by Fr. Thomas Hopko)
The Orthodox Faith volume ii - Worship (by Fr. Thomas Hopko)
The Orthodox Faith volume iii - Bible and Church History (by Fr. Thomas Hopko)
The Orthodox Faith volume iv - Spirituality (by Fr. Thomas Hopko)
Interesting Internet links:
The Orthodox Faith volume I - Doctrine, Volume II - Worship, Volume III - Bible and Church History, Volume IV - Spirituality
http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2 (all volumes free to read)
Saints of the British Isles
Antiochian Orthodox Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland
Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain
Diocese of Sourozh, Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, in Great Britain and Ireland
Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia (Great Britain and Ireland)
Exarchate of Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, Episcopal Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland
The Diocese of Great Britain and Scandinavia (The Church of Serbia)
The Georgian Orthodox Church, London Parish of Saint George, Diocese in Western Europe
Parish of St Macarios the Great (The Romanian Orthodox Church)
A small selection of teachings by Saints to expose us to the deeper spirituality of the Orthodox Christian Faith.
St. Seraphim of Sarov's Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov
Father Paisios the Athonite: Guidance about the Jesus Prayer
An Excerpt from With Elder Porphyrios: A Spiritual Child Remembers
Humble-Mindedness: The Doorway to Pure Prayer
An interview with Elder Dionysius (Ignat) of the St. George Kellion, Kolitsou Skete, Mount Athos, Greece
‘Speaking in Tongues’ - by Elder Cleopa of Romania
On the Presuppositions of our Personal Salvation
Ch. 13. from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the Teachings of True Christianity, By Elder Cleopa of Romania
Holy Humility is Complete Trust in God – Elder Porphyrios
St Kosmas Aitolos
They might help us understand what it is that the Orthodox Church ‘has got’ and heresies haven’t got. Let’s not forget that one of the functions of fulfilled prophecies is to help man overcome his doubts about God’s Word through the fulfilment of the prophecies. The prophecies (not pseudo-prophecies) are God’s seal of validity to His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The following links have very interesting information (prophecies) about heresies (what most people would call denominations).