The Cathedral

The Cathedral is one of the best creations of Birmingham  Architect Julius Alfred Chatwin. It was completed in 1873, which means that in 2023 it is a building that is 150 years old. It is now a Grade 2 listed building. 

The church was built for the Catholic Apostolic Church of Irvingites, who sought to establish the order of the early church. They were Catholics that had an affinity towards the English Church and their liturgies were in the eastern style. It was consecrated as an Orthodox church in 1959. Chatwin loved the gothic style, which is that of our church and was involved in alterations in almost all parishes of the city. He passed away in 1907.  

The church was inaugurated as a Greek Orthodox Church in 1958. The church was devoted to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and St Andrew. 

By the beginning of the twentieth century, there were Greek Orthodox communities and churches in Manchester, Liverpool and Cardiff, as well as in London. In Birmingham, the foundations for a Greek Orthodox church started immediately after the end of the Second World War. From the beginning of the century, large numbers of Greek Cypriots began to emigrate to Britain in search of a better quality of life. They came mainly to the large cities where it was easier to find work.

A brief history

By 1947, there were enough Greek Orthodox people in Birmingham, and the then Archbishop of Thyateira began sending a priest once a month to conduct the liturgy in a church hall next to a Protestant church in Pershore Road. On the remaining Sundays of the month, the Greek Orthodox residents of the Birmingham area would go to churches in London and Manchester to follow the liturgy.

The congregations grew steadily over the next few years, and in 1951 more regular weekly Sunday liturgies began at the Anglican Church of Saint James in Edgbaston. The Orthodox liturgy would begin after the end of the Protestant service, It was during this period that the first Greek school was opened. Lessons would be conducted in a room over the cafe of Mr Andreas Constantinou

The Archbishop of Thyateira, Virvos, advised the small community to start organising itself so that more funds could be raised. Mr Andreas Constantinou was one of the first Cypriot inhabitants of Birmingham, and his cafe was a popular meeting place with many of the Greeks of the city. A friend of his father in law had recently arrived from Cyprus. His name was John Efstathiades.

Mr Efstathiades had been a warden of his village church in Cyprus for many years, and he was in a position to help. Even though he was in his 70s, Mr Efstathiades together with Andreas Constantinou, George Sergiou, Christos Christophorides, George Apeches, Michael Angelides, Michael Epifaniou and others began working hard to secure a permanent building for a Greek Orthodox church in Birmingham. They approached all the Greek inhabitants of the area for help so that the most essential church artefacts, such as icons, an Iconostasis and a Holy Bible, could be bought.

They also went to the Protestant Bishop of Birmingham, the Very Rev. Brian Green for help. The Bishop informed them of four empty churches in and around the city, and the most suitable was the church at Arthur Place near the centre of the city.

So in 1958 the first Greek Orthodox Church in Birmingham was inaugurated. The church was devoted to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and Saint Andrew. Regular liturgies began in Birmingham conducted by the first permanent priest, Father Nicodemos Anagnostou.

The Bishop

On 14 December 1980 Irineos of Patara Birmingham, assistant of the Archdiocese of Great Britain and Thyateira, who had served as Archimandrite in the Church, was ordained as bishop. The ordination was presided over by Archbishop Methodios of Thyateira and Great Britain (Ecumenical Patriarchate) in concelebration with Metropolitan Anthony Bloom and Bishops Gregorios of Tropaion, Chrysostomos of Kyanea and Christophoros of Telmissos.

As the seat of the new bishop, the church was subsequently consecrated as The Cathedral of The Dormition of The Theotokos and St. Andreas.

Bishop Irinaios died on 19 December 2009. He is buried at Oropos Monastery near Athens, where he spent his final years following his retirement.