Princeton, NJ: Mother of God Mission celebrates opening of new church
Archbishop Michael with clergy and faithful.
His Eminence, Archbishop Michael presided at ribbon cutting ceremonies at the newly completed Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Mission, Princeton, NJ, January 29-30, 2016.
The parish is the spiritual home to over 50 faithful who for years had been worshipping in rented facilities, most recently at Princeton Day School.
“We’re almost there,” said Archpriest Peter A. Baktis, who was assigned Rector last March. “When I got here I inherited the building project, which started more than five years ago. It was a shell. But we’ve raised money and were able to complete the interior. The big work has been site work — digging a drainage ditch, grading, asphalt, that kind of thing.”
Archbishop Michael greets faithful after first Liturgy in new church.
Initially planted in Rocky Hill, NJ in 1998, the mission purchased the property at 904 Cherry Hill Road in Princeton. “We were going to convert a house, but the project was expanded,” Father Peter said. “The foundation of the house was enlarged, and that made the church deeper.
“I came to Princeton with no historical understanding of the community at all. I came with an open mind,” Father Peter continued. “And it has been wonderful. It’s a challenge to finish a product, especially coming in halfway through!”
With the building project drawing to a close, Father Peter said focus will turn to programs, services, and Bible study. Two annual symposia—in the fall and the spring—are in the planning stages. “We’re looking for a topic that would be of interest to the greater Princeton area,” Father Peter said. “We want to do a weekend with a keynote and other speakers. We’re also interested in doing outreach to the community, particularly in Trenton.”
Bozeman, MT: An “if you build, they will come” sort of thing!
With its bright red siding and gleaming gold cross, Saint Anthony the Great Mission has quickly become a visible landmark as Bozeman, MT’s first and only Orthodox Christian church. One year ago, parishioners began the construction of their new building “from the ground up,” and since then, their numbers have steadily grown.
According to Priest David Morrison, the community ministers to over 100 faithful, with around 80 souls typically present for services on Sunday. He said the bright new building has increased the mission’s visibility within the community.
“It’s kind of been a ‘if you build it, they will come’ sort of thing,” said Father David. “We can’t believe it, we’re just this small parish but we have this truly incredible space.”
Father David said the new church is the first step in the ongoing development of the mission’s property, with a “master plan” in place that includes a cemetery, a community garden, and a larger worship space to accommodate between 200 and 300 people.
In 2012, the mission purchased its 20-acre plot of land on which the church was erected during the summer of 2014. Before then, services were held in rented facilities.
“This was a really big step for us to buy land, build our own space, and have a permanent spot,” Father David said, adding that numerous parishioners stepped forward to offer their own unique skill sets to the building project.
“I was amazed on a regular basis as we built our new church,” said Subdeacon John Heilman. “It turned out we had among the members of our small congregation an experienced finance man, a certified architect, a certified land surveyor, a crew of skilled builders and several artists who knew how to put color, shape and texture together. Hours of volunteer labor in the construction must be up in the thousands.”
Assigned to Saint Anthony’s three years ago, Father David stepped into the parish just as plans for the new church started rolling. Subdeacon John and his wife, Judith, have watched the mission grow and transition since 2005, though.
“We were previously crowded into a small storefront next to a dog grooming studio—not a site conducive to sacred worship,” he chuckled. “The best part of the new space is that it is a church. It looks like one from the outside, and on the inside it is clearly a beautiful place for Orthodox Christian worship.”
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO: OCA priest keynote speaker at MLK Day celebration
Fr. Moses with Brig. Gen. Maria Gervais, US Army Chemical, Biological, Raiological and Nuclear School Commandant, at MLK celebration.
Archpriest Moses Berry, Rector of the Theotokos “Unexpected Joy” Mission, Ash Grove, MO, delivered the keynote address at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observance and luncheon at the Pershing Community Center at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in mid-January 2016.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Father Moses is the Curator of the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum. His family is well known in southwest Missouri as being an African-American family living on the same property for more than 125 years, and he has worked hard over the years to share that legacy and preserve African-American history in the Ozarks.
“I live in a house that my great grandfather and great grandmother built in 1871,” said Father Moses. “I was raised in a place where there was community.”
Father Moses went on to relate the story of Fanny Murray, a freed slave living in his hometown after the Civil War. His grandfather built a house for her on the site of his present church.
“She didn’t have anywhere to live. She had to rely on the kindness of strangers,” he said.
To illustrate the celebration’s theme—“A Day On, Not a Day Off!”—Father Moses talked about Murray’s daughter, Olivia, who died in 1991. He recalled the many times he would see her walking around town, always carrying a basket filled with eggs and produce from her farm which she would share with families down on their luck. His mother told him that “she saved many lives around here, including ours.
“If we want to know how we can not take a day off, but have a day on, it is to minister to one another,” Father Moses emphasized, explaining that in this instance “to minister” is synonymous with doing kindness for those in need and being willing to go a little bit further than is necessary. He went on to speak about the value of remembering the past while explaining several artifacts pertaining to African-American history, and concluded his presentation by calling upon his audience to remember that Dr. King wanted “fairness for everyone.”
“How do we demonstrate that fairness? By loving those who, spitefully use and say all manner of evil against us. That is how we honor Martin Luther King,” Father Moses said.
Following Father Moses’ address, Col. Daryl Hood, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander, honored him with a commemorative plaque.
Poulsbo, WA: Deacon James Ferrenberg participates in church consecration in Uganda
Deacon James [far left] with other deacons at church consecration in Uganda.
Deacon James Ferrenberg of Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr Church, Poulsbo, WA, recently had the rare opportunity to serve with His Holiness, Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa at the consecration of the newly completed Saint Sophia Church, Luwafu, Uganda—a suburb of Kampala, the nation’s capital.
Deacon James was in Uganda as part of his international work with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA. As a researcher there, he regularly travels to Uganda to assist in the development of a cancer center.
“Like many communities in the US, Saint Sophia’s had long hoped to have a consecrated temple,” said Archpriest John Strickland, Rector of Saint Elizabeth Church. “Patriarch Theodoros made the long journey to preside at its consecration, concelebrating with bishops from Uganda, Sudan and Rwanda and over 20 priests and deacons.”
While in Uganda, Deacon James also visited the Saint Nicholas Uganda Children’s Fund, a charitable agency to which the faithful of Saint Elizabeth Church send regular donations.
Sebring, FL: St. Christopher Camp seeks youth leaders
Saint Christopher Camp, held at Camp Sparta, Sebring, FL, is seeking young adults to volunteer as camp counselors July 10-16, 2016. According to Priest Daniel Hickman, “this is a great opportunity to get involved with Orthodox Christian youth and gain valuable work experience in the process.” Interested individuals are asked to contact Father Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every year since the mid-1940s, religious communities around the US have celebrated “Scout Sunday,” which in 2016 falls on Sunday, February 7.
“The Orthodox Church became involved with Scouting in a formal way in 1955, when Metropolitan Leonty, our Primate, along with the other leaders of the Orthodox Churches met together with the Chief Scout Executive,” according to Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov, Director of Diaconal and Late Vocations of the Orthodox Church in America and recipient of the Quartermaster Sea Scout Award. “The programs and awards that the Church endorses for scouting programs are a way to encourage the youth of our Church as they grow in their conversion to Christ.”
The Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting [EOCS], which works under the aegis of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA, supports Orthodox Scouts and units chartered by local parishes in their important work.
“We encourage each of our parishes to actively support the celebration of ‘Scout Sunday’ this weekend,” explained Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary and Eagle Scout. “We call on the reverend pastors and faithful of our parishes to support and recognize their youth engaged in parish and neighborhood units. Integrating a young person’s Scouting experience in the fullness of Church life and the Church’s youth ministry programs is a powerful witness to our conviction that ‘Christ is all and in all’ [Colossians 3:11].”
Parishes are encouraged to participate in Scout Sunday every year. How can your parish honor its Scouts? Father Eric offers the following suggestions.
Develop occasions on which a parish’s Scouts can get together regularly. Quite often, Scouts are scattered across different troops, dens and packs, and rarely interact. Consciously planning special gatherings will get them to identify with one another.
Look into sponsoring a parish Scout troop or pack. While getting Orthodox Christian scouts together under the “church’s roof” will help build identity, this also is a good way to open up the program to others—and introducing them, perhaps for the first time, to Orthodox Christianity. Many scout troops are in need of meeting space, so parishes that can do so can “rise to the occasion.”
Encourage Scouts to pursue the Saint George, Chi-Rho, or Alpha-Omega Orthodox Christian badges. Requirements can be found on the EOCS web site. Hosting an award ceremony is always a boost to the parish community.
Nominate local adult scout leaders for the Prophet Elias Adult Religious Award to recognize their good work and ministry.
Organize a parish service project for Scouts. This is a “win-win” situation—Scouts need to earn service Have the parish’s scouts do a service project around the church or for a parishioner. Scouts need to pursue service projects, while another item on the parish’s “things to do list” will benefit the whole community.
Encourage Scouts to complete their Eagle or Gold Award project at the parish. Such projects are a tremendous resource involving the whole scout troop and parish—another “win-win” situation.
Parishes and individuals interested in knowing more about how Scouting can be integrated into parish and Church life are encouraged to avail themselves of the resources available on the EOCS web site and to contact area or diocesan youth directors.
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org are also available to answer questions and connect you with appropriate Scouting resources in your area.
Over 80 clergy and lay ministers attended the annual conference.
Over 80 clergy and lay youth and camp workers gathered at Saint Seraphim Cathedral here January 21-23, 2016 for this year’s Pan-Orthodox Youth and Camp Workers’ Conference.
“This annual conference is sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Camp Association and the leaders of all the different jurisdictions’ youth departments,” said Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director. “This year’s gathering was hosted by the Orthodox Church in America—and it was especially joyous to see so many come together to work to do better for our youth.”
Fr. Steven Voytovich leads a discussion on burnout and self-care.
The theme of the conference—“Feed My Sheep: Crisis, Trauma, and Everyday Life”—was explored in two keynote addresses by Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA, and numerous workshops. Father Steven focused on mental health and development in youth and young adults, as well as burnout and self-care for pastors and youth workers. Workshops focused on ministering to young veterans, responding to crises at camp, building effective young adult ministries, developing youth ministry programs in smaller parishes, and planting and expanding campus ministry efforts.
Participants enjoy fellowship and exchange ideas and best practices.
“This year saw a record number of both clergy and lay attendees from the OCA,” Mr. Boyd added. “Representatives from the Bulgarian Diocese, the Diocese of the Midwest, the Diocese of New England, the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, the Diocese of the South, and the Romanian Episcopate participated.”
“I came away from the conference energized and ready to continue working with my parish’s lay leaders to deepen our youth ministry,” said Priest Justin Patterson. “I was also excited that the workshop I led on youth ministry in a small parish garnered so much interest and feedback. Coming home, I feel energized by what is happening in so many parishes across Orthodox America.”
Attendees listen attentively before offering feedback and questions.
His Grace, Bishop Thomas the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, who chairs the Youth Committee for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA, presided at a meeting of that committee’s consultants, focusing on youth formation and opportunities for more Pan-Orthodox cooperation among the youth.
Next year’s conference will be hosted by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America from January 26-28, 2017 at a location yet to be determined.