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Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 13:17 UK
A Russian church in rural Suffolk
Guy Campbell and Lis Henderson
BBC Suffolk

A deacon in the Russian Orthodox church has built his own church at the bottom of his garden in rural Suffolk.

Father Andrew Bond said there was no place of worship between Ipswich and Norwich for followers of his branch of Christianity.

The church, complete with onion-shaped domes, is in Mettingham near Bungay.

"Not enough is being done here to cater for members of the church so I decided to build my own chapel, with my own money," said Father Andrew.

Some people decide to build a shed in the bottom of the garden but Father Andrew has gone one step further. Lacking a place for members of the Russian Orthodox Church to worship in Suffolk, he decided to build one himself.

Russian Orthodox church in Mettingham
Father Andrew admires his work at the bottom of his garden

Build it and they will come!

In the South Seas there was a Cargo Cult of people. During World War Two they watched in awe as US airplanes landed, laden with fabulous, almost magical materials.

Naturally they wanted the same goods bestowed upon them from the munificent gods.

So they made runways and put fires beside them and even built a wooden hut for a man to sit in just like the ones used by the air controllers. And then they waited for the airplanes to land.

They thought that if you build it, then they must come. The same notion is being used by Father Andrew Bond who was born in Norfolk and later became a deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The church he's built in Mettingham is small but looks very authentic, complete with distinctive domes made of fibreglass called cupolas and adorned with beautiful icons.

Father Andrew is unsure how many followers are out there in rural north Suffolk but he was concerned by the lack of a purpose-built place of worship and he hopes the new church will act as a magnet.

"Between Ipswich and Norwich there is a vast area where there is no Orthodox church of any kind. Not Greek, not Russian.

Russian Orthodox church, Mettingham
Inside the church

"Yet you come across people all the time in the area who have some link with the Orthodox church.

"They're scattered about and to an extent they're lost to our church.

"It's easier for the church to organise itself in towns, but in the countryside it's much harder.

"It's been quite a long struggle getting it built because I had unrealistic expectations. But the finished structure is now completed together with the onion-shaped domes which resemble the flame on the candle."

The church was officially blessed by a Bishop in July 2009.

For the South Sea islanders the airplanes from the gods never came, but Father Andrew is confident his flock will come now his new church is up and running.

"If I make my presence known, then that will perhaps reach people who say maybe we should check it out. We're here, we pray at regular times and if anyone wants to pray with us, well, anyone is welcome."

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