The Genuine Orthodox Church in Africa

The Genuine Orthodox Church in Africa under the Omophorion of His Eminence, Metropolitan Matthew of Nairobi and Exarch of West Africa. We are part of the Genuine Orthodox Christians that came together and rejected the ecumenical movement that started in 1920 with the change of Calendar to Revised Julian Calendar and the consequent lifting of the anathemas in 1965 which brought the world orthodoxy under the ecumenical movement.

Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece first came to Africa through Greek missionary activities lead by Bishop Epiphanios, Metropolitan of Kition in 1988 when Muroki became a monk. Subsequently having found worthy he was ordained a Deacon and later became the First Priest of the Genuine Orthodox Church in Africa. In 2008 Archimandrite Matthew Muroki was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy and continue extensive missionary work in Africa.

The Byzantine Orthodox Church Exarchate of Africa petitioned the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece in 2015 and dialogue resume to receive the Byzantine Orthodox Church in Africa under the Leadership of the then Archbishop Anthony now Hieromonk Mark. His Eminence Archbishop Matthew, the Metropolitan of Nairobi visited Nigeria subsequently in 2017. Two years later Mark Anthony a Monk St Nektarius Monastery in the United Kingdom was ordained a GOC Priest with the permission of Archbishop Pathenios of Cyprus and British Isle in May 2019 by His Eminence, Archbishop Mathew, the Metropolitan of Nairobi-Kenya and Exarch of West Africa.

About True Orthodoxy, By Stavros L. K. Markou
According to the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples of Christ and the first converts to the Apostolic Faith became commonly known as the ‘Christians’. St. Ignatius of Antioch and many other early Church Fathers began using the term ‘Catholic Church’ in reference to the Universal Body of Christ. The First Ecumenical Council affirmed the belief in ‘One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ — ‘One’ just as Christ is One; ‘Holy’ because God is Holy; ‘Catholic’ as the Church is Universal and for all tribes and tongues; and ‘Apostolic’ because Christ founded the Church on the confession of His Apostles.

Due to heresies (i.e., false teachings) which arose in the first and second centuries, and continue to rise even in our times, the Church took on the name ‘Orthodox’ (‘aright-believing’) to distinguish Itself from the false believing heretics. Unfortunately, many times in the history of the Church, the heretics were in power, taking control of the Patriarchal Sees and falsely calling themselves “Orthodox”. In such cases, the true Orthodox were persecuted and driven underground or into the wilderness for the sake of preserving their pure confession of the Orthodox Faith. But our loving and compassionate Lord has always given signs of hope and assurance to the true Orthodox Christians, strengthening them, so that they may endure until the end and stand fast and keep their confession, even until their last breath.

One such sign was the Holy Cross which appeared in the heavens over the Holy Land during the reign of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, at a time when the Church was plagued by the Arian controversy. Such dark times were those of St. Gregory the Theologian. At this point in time, St. Gregory and his followers broke off ecclesiastical communion with the heretics, so as not to be corrupted by them. The heretics however, having control of the patriarchal sees, continued to call themselves “Orthodox”, even though in reality they were not. Therefore the followers of St. Gregory the Theologian called themselves “Genuine” or “True” Orthodox Christians, so as to distinguish themselves from the false so-called “Orthodox”. In reply to why the “Genuine Orthodox Christians” warded themselves off from the heretics, St. Gregory the Theologian wrote: “For we are not striving to conquer, but to bring our brothers—separation from whom brings us great distress—to our side.” —Patrologia Graeca, Vol. xxxvi, col. 440B (Oration 41: “On Pentecost”).

Another True Orthodox hierarch who was a contemporary of St. Gregory the Theologian was St. Basil the Great, who wrote: “A Church pure and untouched by the harshness of our times is not easily found and from now on rarely to be seen—a Church that has preserved the apostolic doctrine unadulterated and inviolate!… Beloved brethren, we are small and humble, but we have not accommodated our faith according to changing events. We do not have one faith in Seleucia, another in Constantinople, another in Zelis, another in Lampsake, and a different one for Rome. The faith that is professed today is not different from the one that came before; it is the one and same faith.” —St. Basil the Great, to the Evaisenians. (A.D. 376) After the Second and Third Ecumenical Councils, the Church was finally restored, and Orthodoxy triumphed once again.

Yet another great champion of Orthodoxy against Arianism was St. Athanasius the Great. In his letter to the fourth century True Orthodox Christians, he wrote, among other things, the following words: “May God console you! … What saddens you … is the fact that others have occupied the Churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises—but you have the apostolic faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the faith? The true faith, obviously. Who has lost and who has won in this struggle—the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the faith? … No one, ever, will prevail against your faith, beloved brothers, and we believe that God will give us our Churches back some day. Thus, the more violently they try to occupy the places of worship, the more they separate themselves from the Church. They claim that they represent the Church but in reality they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray. Even if Christians faithful to tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.” —Coll. Selecta SS. Eccl. Patrum. (Caillu and Guillou, Vol. 32, pp 411-412).

Another terrible apostasy occurred during the life of St. Maximus the Confessor. Although only a monk, he broke off communion with all those who fell into the heresy of Monothelitism. When questioned as to why he was not in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Maximus replied: “Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching.” —The Life of St. Maximus the Confessor, Boston, 1982, pp. 60-62. When the Sixth Ecumenical Council was finally convened, all the heretics were anathematized. During all those years, that one simple monk was right, and all those notable bishops were wrong.

Among the most well-known times of apostasy are the dark years of the Iconoclastic Periods. The Iconoclasts were condemned by the Seventh Ecumenical Council, but Iconoclasm was not brought to a final end until the Council of the Triumph of Orthodoxy was convened under Empress St. Theodora.

Other confusing times include those of the false councils of Lyons and Florence. At Lyons, all of the Orthodox delegates signed the heretical declaration of union with the heretical Pope of Rome. However, several of the delegates retracted their signatures upon returning to their dioceses. At the false council of Florence, however, St Mark of Ephesus was the sole bishop that refused to submit to the heretical Pope.

Regarding the Latin-minded “Patriarch” Gregory III (1392-1445), St. Mark of Ephesus wrote: “For I am absolutely convinced that the more I distance myself from him and those like him, the closer I draw to God and all the faithful and Holy Fathers; and to the extent that I separate myself from these people, even so am I united with the truth and the Holy Fathers and theologians of the Church.” —St. Mark of Ephesus, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. clx, cols. 536c and 537a.

It is interesting that St. Mark of Ephesus not only resisted communion with the heretical Patriarch while alive, but even after death he refused any form of communion. “I neither desire,” this Atlas of Orthodoxy declares, “nor accept communion with him [i.e., the Latin-minded Patriarch] or his lackeys, in any manner whatsoever, whether during my lifetime or after my death’; ‘just as throughout my life I was separated from them [viz., the Latinizers], so also at the time of my departure from life, and even after my death, I reject communion and union with them; and I adjure, I command, that none of them approach either at my funeral or at memorial services for me, nor even those of anyone else belonging to our faction, so as to attempt to associate and concelebrate with our clergy. For this is to mix what cannot be mixed. For it is necessary that they [viz., the Latinizers] be completely separated from us, until God grants the good amendment and peace of His Church.” —St. Mark of Ephesus, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. clx, col. 536c.

However, the greatest apostasy of all times was definitely that of the early 20th century. In the past, the Church has been attacked by several christological heresies [viz., heresies regarding Christ’s person, divinity, humanity, etc]. However, the turn of the 20th century marked the manifestation of various ecclesiological heresies [viz., heresies regarding the Church, Divine Grace, the Mysteries and Holy Tradition.] These modern ecclesiological heresies include Rennovationism, New Calendarism, Sergianism, Modernism and the Pan-heresy of Ecumenism. (For more information on these heresies, go to the Heresies Section.) These heresies became powerful forces, and, in collaboration with one another, eventually seized control of the patriarchal sees, of which they continue to occupy to this day. Another ecclesiological heresy, less severe than those listed above, is that of Florinism (or Cyprianism), which caused further schisms.

Nevertheless, those who were truly faithful defended their Orthodox confession and remained pure in Faith, just as in the previous times of apostasy. The contemporary confessors of Orthodoxy are known as the “True” or “Genuine” Orthodox Christians, just as in the time of St. Gregory the Theologian, so as to distinguish themselves from the heretics. The True Orthodox Christians have received divine assurance, just as in the time of the Arian controversy, as the sign of the precious cross once again miraculously appeared in the heavens, in this instance, above a True Orthodox chapel just outside Athens, Greece, in 1925 to comfort the faithful True Orthodox Christians and strengthen them in their sacred struggle.

Our Historical Backgroung

Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC; Γνήσιοι Ορθόδοξοι Χριστιανοί), are the Christians that remained committed to the traditional Orthodox practice and are not in communion with World Orthodox churches that are under western ecumenical yoke.

The Genuine Orthodox Christians rejects the adoption of the Revised Julian Calendar and other liturgical reforms that were introduced into world Orthodoxy

Until 1923 the Eastern Orthodox Church universally used the Julian calendar, whereas the Roman Catholic Church, under Pope Gregory XIII, conducted a calendar reform and adopted the mediaeval Gregorian calendar in 1582. The difference between the two calendars is 13 days between 1900 and 2100.

For civil and governmental uses, the Julian calendar remained the official calendar in most Orthodox Christian nations until the early 20th century. The Gregorian calendar was adopted for civil uses by Bulgaria in 1916, the Ottoman Empire in 1917, Soviet Russia in 1918 and Romania and Yugoslavia in 1919. Greece officially adopted the “political calendar”, a system devised in 1785, on 17 February/1 March 1923. This dropped all centennial leap years except those giving remainder 0 or 400 on division by 900. With the growing acceptance of this calendar, it was realised that it would diverge from the Gregorian within eighty years, and steps were taken to ameliorate this.

In May 1923, the controversial Pan-Orthodox Congress of Constantinople [fr], called by Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople, adopted this calendar under the name of Revised Julian calendar, incorporating a modification of Serbian astronomer Milutin Milanković which ensured it would not diverge from the Gregorian for a further 800 years. This replaced the tabular Easter of the Julian calendar with the astronomical Easter. Not all Orthodox churches were represented at the congress or adopted its decisions, and the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox churches, governing a majority of Orthodox Christians, have continued to use the Julian calendar liturgically to this day. In 1924, the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Greece, following the lead of other Orthodox churches, voted to accept the Revised Julian calendar for fixed feasts, maintaining the traditional Julian calendar Paschalion for calculating the date of Pascha and all of the moveable feasts dependent on it.

The calendar change was not without controversy. Dissent arose from among both clergy and laity, encouraged by countless priests and monks from all over Greece and Mount Athos who traveled throughout Greece preaching in churches and serving as confessors, or spiritual guides, to thousands of Christians. On Mount Athos the Julian calendar is used to this day. In 1935, three bishops from the Church of Greece returned their dioceses to the Julian calendar, consecrated (ordained) four like-minded clergy to episcopal dignity, created the church of the “Genuine Orthodox Christians” (Greek: Εκκλησία των Γνησίων Ορθοδόξων Χριστιανών – Γ.Ο.Χ.), and declared that the official Orthodox Church of Greece had fallen into schism. By 1937, the movement split within itself over the question of whether or not Orthodox jurisdictions that had adopted the Revised Julian calendar were still Orthodox.

After a largely successful grassroots effort to resist the Greek state’s new doctrine and its new calendar that originated in Western Christendom, the popularity of the old calendar was attacked. The Church of Greece is the official state church and resorted to the use of state power to suppress the movement. By the 1960s and 1970s, the ecumenical activities of a number of Orthodox leaders infused the Old Calendar Church with new followers in Greece, particularly in 1965–72 when the monasteries of Mount Athos broke communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Old Calendarists went their own way without further official recognition from the broader Orthodox communion until 1960, when the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) consecrated new bishops for one of the two major Old Calendarist jurisdictions. ROCOR recognized the other major jurisdiction in 1971.

In the present day, there are three major Old Calendarist divisions present in Greece, all of which have parishes in many other countries. The first one is the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece (GOC), the second are generally known as “Matthewites” as they derive from Archbishop Matthew, and the third and smallest are called the Makarians (formerly called the Lamians) who broke off from the GOC in 1995. Relationships between the Matthewites and GOC are warming but the Makarians are not accepted by either of these Orthodox churches.

Greek Old Calendarists adhere to traditional Greek Orthodox practices. While they are called (and might informally call themselves) “Old Calendarist,” many maintain that they have not separated over a mere calendar. Instead, the calendar is a symptom of what has been called “the pan-heresy of ecumenism.” Old Calendarist Orthodox Christians hold that the participation of many local Orthodox Churches in the modern ecumenistic movement is theologically problematic. Some have argued that even the calendar is a matter of dogma since it has historically manifested the unity and catholicity of the Church and that the reformation of the Church Calendar in 1924 was unilaterally adopted and was connected with the beginning of Orthodox participation in the modern ecumenical movement. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar has been anathematized by three Pan-Orthodox Councils in the 16th century. Some Old Calendarists maintain that they have “walled themselves off” from larger Orthodox jurisdictions to protect Orthodoxy from heretical innovations in practices and doctrine.

Other than the calendar issue, Old Calendarists generally maintain the rites and beliefs of the Church of Greece.

This Jurisdiction is governed by Genuine Orthodox Church Holy Synod