Christianity at Easter: meet two thriving local churches

In the latest of our series of stories exploring the diversity of Christianity in the Eastlondonlines boroughs, Anja Grøner Krogstad and Kyra Hanson join the congregations of two very different, yet equally vibrant denominations in south east London.

The Orthodox Easter service will take place on 1 May this year PIC: Greek Orthodox Church of St Constantine and St Helen

Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on a different date as they follow the Julian calendar Pic: Greek Orthodox Church of St Constantine and St Helen

As many Christians reflect on the significance of Good Friday today, did you know there are millions of Christians who will wait until early May to celebrate Easter? And did you know, for many other Christians, singing and dancing will form a central part of their Easter celebrations?

As we reported earlier, the Greek Orthodox and Pentecostal churches are thriving with ever-growing numbers in all four of our ELL boroughs. So we joined a Greek Orthodox congregation in Croydon and a Pentecostal congregation in Tower Hamlets to learn more about their Easter celebrations.

Greek Orthodox membership is set to exceed half a million by 2020, making it the fourth largest denomination in the UK. The Greek Orthodox Church is the biggest single orthodox denomination, accounting for over half of the UK total. For the Greek Orthodox Church, Easter is the most important religious holiday, with thousands turning out for the Easter service.

ELL spoke with Dr Andreas Andreou, president of the Greek Orthodox Church of St Constantine and St Helen in Upper Norwood, Croydon, to get a deeper understanding of the range of traditions associated with Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday.

We spoke to members of the Greek Orthodox church of St Helen and St Constantine about why they dye eggs red for Easter.

Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that emphasises the personal experience of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The movement, which originated in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, has established the most churches in London over the last 20 years.

Pentecostal churches are often modest in appearance but provide members with a real sense of community. Music is an integral part of every service, and at Great Light Connections in Tower Hamlets, 18-year-old Gabrielle Chudi agreed to tell us more.

Discover how the Orthodox and Pentecostal churches are bucking the national trend of decline, read the other articles in our Christianity at Easter series here:

Christianity at Easter: the rise and rise of Fresh Expressions
Christianity at Easter: the key trends in our local area

Tell us about your Easter: If you would like to share pictures of your Easter Sunday church service, tweet your pictures to: @eastlondonlines and use the hashtag “#MyEaster” with a second hashtag for your borough. 

Reporting team: Anja Groner Krogstad, Kyra Hanson, Amalia Illgner and Naomi Joseph.

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