[C]UMBRIA’S only Orthodox priest has been left “saddened” after thieves stole lead from the chapel roof in the run up to Easter.
The scale of the damage to the church in Braithwaite near Keswick was discovered on the packed launch night for Fr John’s latest book about the saints – and as the parish prepares to celebrate the holiest time in the Christian calendar.
Orthodox celebrate Easter or Pascha this weekend, with the moveable feast falling a week later this year than in the western tradition.
A local roofer has estimated that the repair bill to the former Methodist chapel could be as high as £20,000 and the parish is still waiting to see if this will be met by the insurers.
Fr John said: “The theft of the lead roof was discovered when the building was full of people attending the book launch Sacred North on Tues March 26. It was raining heavily and water dripped through the ceilings of the shower and toilet blocks, involving the electrics.
“We are saddened that anyone would resort to such a crime, and it has inevitably meant inconvenience, especially as Easter is our busiest time of the year. We are of course in touch with police, insurers, a roofer and an electrician, and are reviewing security arrangements for the future. It will not in any way affect the joyful celebrations for Orthodox Pascha.”
Fr John and his wife Jenny built up the parish of St Bega, St Mungo and St Herbert from nothing in ten years after moving to Keswick from Brighton.
A spokesman for Police Cumbria confirmed that no arrests had been made at this stage of their investigation and they have appealed for information.
The spokesman added: “Police were contacted on March 27 with a report of theft of lead from the Orthodox Church at Braithwaite.
“The theft occurred at some point between March 20 and March 27.
“Anyone with any information is asked to email [email protected] or call 101, quoting incident number 243 of the March 27. Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.”