By the 4th century, Christian leaders realised that they needed a standard interpretation of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Over time, however, different viewpoints emerged, culminating in 1054 with the ‘Great Schism’, dividing Eastern and Western Christianity. A primary cause was the East’s rejection of the Bishop of Rome (the West’s Pope) as the foremost authority. The West’s insistence on the use of Latin and the events of the 4th Crusade and the Reformation further separated them, with the East maintaining that their beliefs were the traditional, orthodox ones.
The first Greek Orthodox church in London was built in 1677. After WW1, many more Eastern Orthodox Christian churches began to appear in the UK and today, in addition to the Greek, there are Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian, most of which conduct services partially in their native language.
Easter is the most important celebration in the Orthodox calendar (which is slightly different to ours, Christmas occurring on 7th January), but every day of the year is a feast-day for one saint or another. Church interiors feature numerous icons and singing is unaccompanied. There is a small, independent British Orthodox Church with a varied history dating from c.1874 as the ‘Ancient British Church’.
(Image: John Salmon at geograph.org.uk / CC BY-SA 2.0)