Consecration of Holy Spirit Orthodox Church of Huntington, West Virginia
In the spring of 1999, the parishioners of Holy Spirit Orthodox Church of Huntington, West Virginia, faced a momentous decision. After worshipping in the same church (a former Church of Christ building) for over 30 years, they faced the choice of undertaking a complete renovation to the church or the formidable task of beginning from scratch in a new location. Having fewer than 100 members, either choice seemed to border on the impossible. But what is impossible with men is possible with God. In an almost unanimous vote, the members voted to put the building up for sale. What made the choice even more difficult was that a new location had not yet been found. Nevertheless, in the summer of 2000, with the church sold, Bishop DEMETRI traveled to Huntington and removed the holy relics from the altar. The icons, altar, and other church items were carefully packed away, and the parish began a three year period of exile, worshipping in a chapel generously provided by Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.
Three years later on the Sunday before Christmas, 2003, the doors of the new Holy Spirit Orthodox Church were opened and the parish again had a home. However, it was not until the weekend of October 8-9, 2005, that the most blessed event in the life of parish, the church consecration, took place.
Bishop THOMAS arrived from the Archdiocese Board of Trustees meeting in Potomac, MD, in time to be present at Great Vespers. Also serving that evening was our pastor, Fr. John Dixon; our former pastor Archimandrite Daniel Keller, currently pastor of Our Lady of Walsingham Orthodox Church in Mesquite, TX; Fr. Thomas Gallaway of St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Lexington, KY; Fr. Mark Elliott of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Huntington; and Fr. David Shaw of St. John Greek Orthodox Church, Charleston, WV.
Following the Vespers, we enjoyed a “family” style dinner and hafli at the Palms Room. Many former parishioners and family members from as far away as Texas, Colorado, Michigan, and Florida enjoyed renewing old friendships.
At 9:00 on Sunday morning, an overflowing congregation again assembled at the church for the start of Matins. We were especially blessed to have our sister parish of St. George Greek Orthodox Church join us, along with Hieromonk Seraphim and several of the fathers of the Holy Cross Hermitage, of Wayne, WV. Many were moved to tears as Sayedna THOMAS, assisted by the clergy and Subdeacons Julian Saad, Joseph Peck, Anthony Miralles, re-consecrated the altar and anointed the walls of the church as a holy place set aside for the worship of the Holy Trinity. Subdeacon Selden McNeer and the choir and chanters did an outstanding job in providing inspiring and prayerful responses.
In his usual manner, Sayedna challenged us not to rest on our accomplishments, but to increase our efforts to spread the knowledge of Orthodox Christianity to the 300,000 people in the Huntington metro area. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Abraham Saad was inducted into the Order to St. Ignatius. As a blessing and keepsake of the event, each person was given a card with a portion of the bishop’s savanon, which he wore during the consecration.
Following the Consecration, a banquet was held at the Guyan Country Club. At the banquet we were also joined by Fr. Fred Shaheen, assistant pastor of St. George Orthodox Church of Charleston. Fr. Thomas Gallaway served as master of ceremonies, and with his usual wit, recalled the many joyous times in his years as a Holy Spirit parishioner. Also offering remarks were Greg Mencotti, Parish Council Chairman and Melanie Mansour, Consecration Chairperson. Bishop THOMAS again congratulated the parish, but he also called for the quick planning and construction for the next phase of construction, which will include space for Christian Education and a larger social hall. Sayedna’s enthusiasm caused $21,000 in pledges to be raised within a few minutes to begin planning and architectural designs for the new addition. For more pictures, go to http://www.holyspiritwv.org/consecration.htm