Edinburgh, Scotland, November 24, 2012
|Father Avraamy Neyman and Father Raphael Pavouris. Picture: Robert Ormerod|
The Orthodox Community of St Andrew, which holds services at a former school on Meadow Lane, is trying to buy the deconsecrated Chapel Street Church in Newington.
The 18th century, grade B listed building stopped being a church in 1969 and has since been used as a storage facility by Edinburgh University.
The group, which formed in the early 1980s, will need to pay around £450,000 to buy the building before carrying out extensive renovation work.
It needs repointing and repairs to the stonework, roof, leadwork and stained glass. Plans have been submitted to the council to remove plasterboard screens from the windows and replace them with temporary perspex. Kitchen and lavatory facilities would also be fitted under the proposals being considered by planners.
The 86-year-old, now largely bedridden, is believed to have written to church members saying he is excited about the potential move.
Fr Raphael Pavouris, one of the five clergy, said it was testimony to Fr Maitland Moir’s teaching that the religious group had risen in popularity. “Our numbers have trebled in the last ten years so we now have a congregation of more than 100 members on a Sunday and the church is too small.
“We have always wanted to have a church like the one on Chapel Street near to the university. Students make up about half of our congregation and we also have quite a lot of people who turn to the Orthodox Christianity from other denominations or faiths.”
In 2003, growing numbers forced them to move from the room at Fr Maitland Moir’s flat to their current home at Meadow Lane, Newington.
“It is a nice predicament to be in but we will be sad to leave here. It has been a very good location and we love the building but it’s a matter of space,” Fr Pavouris added.
“Chapel Street Church is a big premises and in a more central and visible location. We will be able to use the grounds around it for the community to use and children to play.”
Once the sale is completed in the next few weeks, the renovations are expected to start in December.
Dr Maria Eugenicos, who is on the church committee for fundraising, said she hoped much of the money needed would come from the sale of Meadow Lane.
She said the church would be organising several fundraisers to help with the renovations, which include installing a lift, strengthening the first floor and converting it back into a church, which she expected would take three months.
“It is very exciting. There was a lot of debate about whether we can afford to do this in times of difficulty as we must support our students as well so there was difficult decisions to be made.
An Edinburgh University spokesman confirmed it was in ongoing talks with the Orthodox Community of St Andrew. He said the sale was subject to issues around planning and funding.