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21 Jul 2021

Bishop David ordains new deacon at The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy

On 18 July, Bishop David conducted the ordination service for Glen Ruffle, who was made deacon in the historic setting of The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy in London. The chapel, located in the City of Westminster, is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, and as such is a Royal Peculiar, outwith the jurisdiction of a bishop, but under that of the reigning monarch. The church is the chapel of the Royal Victorian Order.

The Diocesan Director of Ordinands, The Revd Canon William Gulliford introduced St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow, where Glen will serve as a curate, and noted that its worshipping community is made up of people of many nationalities: “St Andrew’s is represented [today], as is the Diocesan Office, and the venerable Russia Company a historic pioneer of the Diocese’s ecumenical work.”

The ordination service was held on 18 July, which commemorates the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Russia. In his sermon, William shared the life story of Elizabeth, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and German Grand Duchess from the House of Hesse, who was known as “Ella” by her extended European royal family.

He recounted how Elizabeth married into the ruling Romanov royal family in turbulent late nineteenth and early twentieth century Tsarist Russia. Elizabeth’s husband, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Governor-General of Moscow, was assassinated in 1905. William described the depth of her commitment as a Christian disciple following this personal tragedy in imploring the revolutionary Communist assassin to seek God’s forgiveness for the murder of her husband. Elizabeth subsequently founded a women’s religious ministry devoted to Ss Mary and Martha.  Elizabeth was executed in July 1918 by the Bolsheviks, along with other members of the Russian Imperial Royal Family, in Ekaterinburg.

Ella was also beloved Godmother to Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of the late Duke of Edinburgh.  William said “the work Princess Alice undertook in Athens as a nun from the 1940s was a deliberate continuation of her aunt’s mission. Poignantly, Alice’s choice of final resting place would be near her Aunt’s.”

The Russian Church in Exile canonised Elizabeth in 1981, and the Moscow Patriarchate followed in 1992. Elizabeth’s statue was consecrated above the West Door of Westminster, before the Queen and Prince Philip in 1998. Elizabeth stands next to Martin Luther King as one of the martyrs of the 20th century.

A pioneer for women’s ministry, St. Elizabeth attempted, nearly succeeding, in reviving the ancient order of deacons for women in the Russian Church in 1909. William concluded, “had she done so she would be remembered for one of the boldest ecumenical moves of the early twentieth century. Her name though is hallowed with all the martyrs, for holding firm to the end”.

You can read William’s sermon here and find out more about St. Elizabeth of Russia.

Speaking ahead of his ordination, Glen commented:

“St Andrew’s, Moscow is a really amazing place because the nations of the world are literally gathered here and they are united in faith.”  Glen is excited to help develop more work with the young people, meditative prayer, and ecumenical relationships. You can read more about Glen’s story in our Summer issue of European Anglicans magazine.

Bishop David said:

“It was a joy to ordain another deacon this year to serve in the Diocese in Europe.  It was an added privilege to conduct this service in the historic setting of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, possibly the first time it has witnessed an ordination service in its centuries-old history. Fittingly, we commemorated the feast of St. Elizabeth of Russia on 18 July for Glen’s ordination, as he prepares to serve our chaplaincy in Moscow. Furthermore, holding the service in England, before Glen departs later this year for Moscow, enabled also the presence of representatives of the Russia Company, which, since 1555 has maintained an interest in supporting the Church of England’s presence in Russia.”

You can find out more about St Andrew's Anglican Church, Moscow on their website.

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Story: Jamie Ellis, Damian Thwaites

Service photos: Amber Jackson, by kind permission of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy.