History of the Parish in London

His Grace Mar Dinkha, then the Bishop of Iran, arrived in England in the summer of 1967. He celebrated only the second Qurbana Qadisha in Great Britain in ten years. He also visited the Assyrian community in Slade Green, Kent, as the first Bishop to do so.

On 17th October 1976, His Grace Mar Dinkha was consecrated Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East (His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV) in St. Barnabas Church in Ealing. In November of that year, His Holiness was invited to the General Synod of the Church of England, and I accompanied him, meeting with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace the Bishop of London, and the Church of England commissioners. During their discussion, His Holiness requested a redundant church for use by our community. After six months of correspondence, we were offered churches in Kensington, Battersea Park, Southwick, and Sydenham, but these churches were not suitable as they were too far from the Assyrian community in Ealing.

On 28th October 1977, His Holiness made an initial visit to Geneva, and I accompanied him. He met with the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and the United Nations representative for refugees regarding obtaining help for resettlement for those Assyrians caught up in the Diaspora. During this visit, His Holiness asked me to continue negotiations with the Church of England to obtain a church for our community in Ealing and to obtain a permit to bring Archdeacon Younan to England as our parish priest. He also asked me to set up a temporary church committee. Upon our return, I contacted Mr. Hawil Michael (then not Shamasha) and Mr. Edward Khamo, and we formed a temporary committee with me as Chairman, Hawil Michael as Secretary, and Edward Khamo as Treasurer. As per instructions from His Holiness, I began working with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office at Lambeth Palace regarding finding a church and obtaining the necessary permit for bringing Archdeacon Younan and his family to England. The Temporary Church Committee began enrolling members and collecting donations and membership fees.

On 21st October 1977, an official meeting of the Temporary Church Committee with His Holiness Mar Dinkha was held at the Carnarvon Hotel. His Holiness confirmed the Temporary Church Committee to be called the Church Committee until we were able to have an AGM to elect a permanent committee. It was decided at this meeting to charge £1 per family per month as a membership fee. The Executive Committee of the Assyrian Society of GB was informed of these decisions on the same day, immediately after the meeting with His Holiness.

Prior to 1978, all church services had been held in St. Barnabas Church in Ealing. Our accounts at that time showed that we had collected £5,077.07 in donations, Sliwa collections, and membership fees. By October, the Assyrian Society of GB had purchased a community centre called the Assyrian House, and on 8th October 1978, the first service was celebrated there by His Holiness Mar Dinkha and His Beatitude Mar Narsai.

On 11th October 1978, we added four new members to our committee: David Malik, Emmanuel Kelaita, David Youna, and Enwia Esho. The committee met with His Beatitude Mar Narsai, and we discussed ways of moving forward and writing a constitution for our church.

With the help of Lambeth Palace, we were able to arrange for the arrival of Archdeacon Younan and his family.

On 18th October 1978, at a meeting with His Beatitude Mar Narsai, we discussed:

1. The arrival of Archdeacon Younan and his family
2. Financial report
3. Purchase of a residence for Archdeacon Younan
4. Collecting an accurate list of church members

By March 1979, we had 145 fully paid-up members and a total of £17,653.72 obtained from membership fees, Sliwa collection, and donations, and we accepted interest-free loans from members totalling £7,500.00.

In October 1979, we purchased a house for the church as a residence for the priest and his family from our account, which had now reached £30,914.95. This house was purchased for a total of £27,753.05, and the property was held for the church in the names of the trustees: Archdeacon Younan, David Malik, and David Youna.

In October 1980, the committee held a dinner for His Beatitude Mar Narsai to raise donations for the purchase of a church building. We were very grateful to all those who donated as we raised a magnificent £45,600.00 from those present.

On 29th March 1981, at the AGM, I resigned as Chairman of the Church Committee, and a new committee was elected. Edward Khamo took over as Chairman.

Donations continued to be made, and by 14th July 1986, total donations had reached £79,441.35 due to the generosity of members. We purchased St. Mary’s Church in Ealing (now St. Mary’s Cathedral), which was consecrated by His Holiness Mar Dinkha on 15th August 1987.

In October 1992, Archdeacon Younan was semi-retired, and Rev. Stephen Yalda Turkhan (Qasha Stepanoos) was appointed parish priest by His Holiness Mar Dinkha.

On 24th July 1994, His Grace Mar Odisho was given the diocese of Europe, which included the U.K., although his See was in Stockholm, Sweden.

On 1st June 2008, Shamasha Shmaiel Tamras was ordained priest for certain parishes in Europe by His Beatitude Mar Narsai and His Grace Mar Odisho, and he celebrated occasional services in London.

On 25th May 2019, His Grace Mar Awraham Youkhanis was appointed by the Holy Synod as Bishop for Western Europe, with his See in London. His Grace was welcomed at Heathrow Airport on 28th June 2019 by over 250 parishioners.

Praidon Darmoo