Trinity Church, Bellingshausen Station, Antarctica

This may be the coldest church in the world.

While the usual practice here on the Desperate Pastor blog is to feature only churches I have personally visited (with one or two exceptions, I think, in the year-and-a-half this feature has run so far), this one is certainly exceptional. It is Trinity Church, a small Russian Orthodox church on King George Island near Russian Bellingshausen Station in Antarctica. It is the southernmost Eastern Orthodox church in the world. Here's where it is located on the map:

The ambitious project to establish a permanent church on Antarctica originated in the 1990s. A charity named Temple for Antarctica was approved by Patriarch Alexius II and received donations from across Russia.

The church is a fifty-foot-high wooden structure built in traditional Russian style. It can accommodate up to 30 worshipers. It was consecrated on February 15, 2004, by Theognost, the Bishop of Sergiyev Posad and the Namestnik (abbot) of Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, who visited Antarctica for this occasion, along with a number of other clerics, pilgrims, and sponsors.

The church is manned year-round by one or two Orthodox priests, who volunteer for the Antarctic assignment. They are rotated annually.

Among the priests' tasks are praying for the souls of the 64 Russian people who have died in Antarctic expeditions and serving the spiritual needs of the staff of Bellingshausen Station and other nearby stations. Besides Russian polar researchers, the church is often visited by their colleagues from the nearby Chilean, Polish, Korean, and other research stations, as well as by tourists. For the benefit of Latin American visitors, some church services are conducted in Spanish.

On occasions, the priest baptizes new adherents of Christianity in the Southern Ocean (I've done some cold baptisms, but probably not THAT cold!). On 29 January, 2007, the priest of the church celebrated what was likely the first ever church wedding in Antarctica (a staff member of a Chilean Antarctic base, who had joined the Orthodox Church soon after the opening of the Antarctic temple, and his Russian wife). When not busy with church work, priests help out with the general maintenance of the Bellingshausen station.

5 comments:

  1. I tried to write before, but don't know if it went through....

    I am a hymnwriter, and my hymns have been published and sung around the world....except in Antarctica. I hope it would be a blessing to you, but it would be a joy to me to be the first living hymnwriter to have hymns sung on every continent.

    If you could email me that you sang a song of mine in worship, documenting the date and place,
    I would be most grateful. I would, in turn, docutment it in my upcoming book, which may bring some offerings your way.

    Here is one possible hymn:

    Praise the One who breaks the darkness
    with a liberating light.
    Praise the one who frees the prisoners,
    turning blindness into sight.
    Praise the One who preached the Gospel
    healing every dread disease.
    Calming storms and feeding thousands,
    with the very bread of peace.

    Praise the One who blessed the childrec,
    with a strong yet gentle word.
    Praise the One who drove out demons
    with a piercing two edged sword.
    Praise the One who brings cool water
    to the desert's burning sand.
    From this well comes living water,
    quenching thirst in every land.

    Praise the one true love incarnate:
    Christ who suffered in our place.
    Jesus dies and rose for many
    that we many know God by grace.
    Let us sing for joy and gladness
    seeing what our God has done.
    Praise the one redeeming glory.
    Praise the One who makes us one.

    -Rusty Edwards
    (c) Hope Publishing Company

    I send you this one because it has been publihsed in the USA, Africa, England, Canada, Scotland and elsewhere.

    Please let me know if you have sung this at a worship service. I can send you more if you want. Thank you so much, and God bless you.

    Rusty Edwards

    PS With your blessing, I could also let the Hymn Society know about this, and this might also generate more awareness of your church around the world.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I Badly Wants To Visit But I Am From Pakistan Is There Any Way I Can Go There Mutaher-sattar@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. My husband and I love this first picture and would like to hang a copy on our wall. Do you know where we can get permission to reprint and get a copy large enough for photo reprint? Thank you! hansjurgensfrau@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Any ideas where I could get a high resolution copy of the great outdoor shot featured here?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Blessed are the churches in Antartica. God calls them "the church of Philadelphia". "I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." --Revelation 3:8b

    ReplyDelete