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.