The establishment of a Communist government in China after World War II, caused the Russian communities of such major cities as Harbin, Shanghai, Peking etc. to leave the country in the late 1940s and 1950s and settle in Australia, the United States and South America.
Throughout the early 1960s, Russian families from the Chinese provinces were being caught up in the Cultural Revolution and evicted from the lands they occupied since the early 1930s. These people, mainly Cossack families who did not wish to live under the Bolsheviks, settled in Singkiang Province, China's most western province, and Northern Manchuria. Many of these people returned to the Soviet Union, but others were able to migrate to the West, especially Australia.
Upon arrival in Australia, Russian migrants from Trehrechie were able to successfully settle into such existing parishes as Geelong, Cabramatta and Rocklea. However those coming from Singkiang Province, China's most western region, whilst in the main settling in Dandenong, did not become an integral part of the Melbourne parish. At first, some of the new arrivals joined the church choir and children attended the Melbourne parish school; however, it soon became evident that the cultural differences of this predominantly rural group precluded it becoming part of the more urbanised Melbourne community.
The Right Reverend Anthony Medvedev, Bishop of Melbourne, suggested that the new arrivals should retain their own traditions by setting up their own community. This became a reality in 1962 when the bishop arranged that clergy from the Melbourne parish would visit Dandenong, where the majority of the migrants had settled, and celebrate Divine services for them on the spot. At first services were held in private houses and then a more permanent place was found in the garage of the Metlenko family, where services were held for a number of years.
Archbishop Anthony Medvedev
Bishop of Melbourne
Bishop Anthony celebrated the first service in Dandenong himself, and thereafter Fr Tychon Kiryczuk and Fr Dimitry Simonow came, taking turns. The first church warden became Peter Ivanovich Metlenko. In 1963 a group of migrants from Trehrechie also settled in Dandenong and boosted the numbers of the community. By 1964 the community was able to buy two blocks of land in Morwell Avenue, Dandenong South for 1,600 pounds.
Dandenong Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church (Abroad)
The Church of Our Lady's Dormition is a legal entity registered in February 1971, under the Religious and Successory Trust Act of the Parliament of the State of Victoria as, "The Dandenong Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church (Abroad)." (Register of Successory Trusts under Part II, Folium 637).
The parish is governed under the provisions of the Normal Parish By-laws approved by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia in 1551 and 1955.
The Trustees of the parish are ex officio:
1. The Ruling Bishop of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese appointed by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox outside of Russia,
2. The Parish Rector, appointed by the Ruling Bishop,
3. The Church Warden (Starosta) elected by the parishioners for a three year term,
4. The Parish Secretary elected by the parishioners for a one year term,
5. The Parish Treasurer elected by the parishioners for a one year term.
The Parish Council,
under the chairmanship of the Rector, oversees the daily operations of the parish life in accordance with the Normal Parish By-laws. The Council consists of the Rector all other clergy appointed to the Dormition church, the Church Warden, Secretary, Treasurer, the Senior Sister of the Ladies Auxiliary, the choirmaster and the four other elected members.