Diocese of Charleston News
December was filled with tidings of great joy at St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia. We welcomed home for the holidays His Grace, Bishop Thomas, who served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity and was in attendance for several of our holiday presentations.
On December 5th, after Divine Liturgy, our teen group served their annual pancake breakfast with all the toppings. On December 6th, 8th, and 10th, the Antiochian Women/Ladies Guild, St. Ignatius, and the Young Adults held their Christmas Dinners and end of year meetings.
HARK! The voices of angels were heard on Sunday, December 12th, and fourteen members of our Junior Choir performed solos and duets of traditional Christmas carols for the congregation, after Divine Liturgy. Under the direction of our choir director, Lexie Damous, and accompanied by Michael Barnhouse, this was truly a gift of the season.
Greetings in the name of our incarnate God and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!
As we turn our thoughts once more to the birth into this world of the God-man Jesus, let us consider what God has given us to witness. While His conception at the Annunciation to the Virgin was in secret, His birth reveals Him openly. And what is revealed?
It is that our God, the Maker of all things, eternal, invisible, untouchable and incomprehensible to mortal man has now become one of us, a member of the human race. He retains His eternality while stepping into time. He remains the invisible God while becoming visible. He is beyond touching yet is now touchable. And though His essence as God is forever incomprehensible to us, in His incarnation as man, He has become truly knowable.
Since 1989, The King’s Jubilee ministry has been serving the poor and homeless people of Philadelphia. In addition, Jubilee workers have also been able to encourage and mentor others who have followed their model and developed programs in their own communities.
At the heart of this effort is Cranford Joseph Coulter and the community of St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church, shepherded by Fr. Noah Bushelli. Explains Coulter, “Our vehicle leaves St. Philip’s parking lot every Thursday (and some Tuesdays) at 7 pm full of sandwiches, fruit, clothing, toiletries and goodies to share. Some parishioners ride together and more meet us downtown where we serve on the street. Three times, we have received grants from Food for Hungry People and the local members of the Order of St. Ignatius helped us buy a van.”
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Orlando, Florida was founded in 1968. During the V. Rev. Fr. John Hamatie's thirty-seven year tenure the parish purchased and remodeled their church building, and also bought the office building and parking lot behind the Church. The parish has been a presence downtown since 1974, when the community established the annual tradition of Diving for the Cross in Lake Eola Park. Then in 1976 the parish celebrated their first liturgy in the church downtown, on the Fourth of July.
In 2009 in conjunction with the Ephraim Project, Fr. John began to put St. George's parking lot to good use during the week, when he established a weekly feeding for those he calls "our homeless brothers and sisters." Volunteers arrive earlier in the day to prepare food for between 150 and 200 people every Friday; meals are served in the outdoors in the same place that parishioners park on Sundays. "The Blessings deriving to us for over the last year of feeding 200 homeless men, women and children every Friday behind the Church is perhaps one of our greatest spiritual 'highs.' To be actually fulfilling a command of the Lord to love those closest in proximity is a wonderful thing."
On October 30-31, 2010, the congregation of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church, located in Chantilly, Virginia, and its priest, Fr. Thomas Palke, gratefully received His Grace Bishop Thomas. Bishop Thomas' visit was his first to the mission since the mission's move to Chantilly from nearby Centreville, Virginia, where we had met for four years. Sayedna Thomas presided at Great Vespers on October 30, during which he offered words of instruction, admonition, and encouragement to the congregation. Afterward, the congregation enjoyed dinner and a mini-concert from violinist Michael Munayer, a member of St. Raphael's. Over dessert, Sayedna spoke briefly and opened the floor for questions from the faithful. Among other topics, he discussed with the faithful the prospect of administrative unity among the Orthodox churches in America. Joining the mission for the evening's events were Fr. John Anderson, attached priest of St. Raphael, Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick's Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, Fr. Nicholas Aflord of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, D.C., and Deacon Peter Maris of Holy Cross Orthodox Church of Linthicum, Maryland.
(By kind permission of St. Vladimir's Seminary)
“If we have faith, and allow God to do to us that which He wills, everything good will come down to us,” said His Grace Thomas, visiting bishop to our Three Hierarchs Chapel, during his homily on the Feast of St. Barbara and St. John of Damascus. Preaching on Luke 8:43, the gospel story of the woman with the flow of blood, His Grace reminded our seminary congregation that obedience to God’s will, within the providential circumstances of life and within the Holy Orders of church service, produces healing and perfection.
His Grace Bishop Thomas recently visited St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York on the occasion of their patronal feast. Sayedna arrived in New York on Friday, December 3, 2010 and served liturgy for the feast of the Great-Martyr Barbara and St. John of Damascus on December 4 at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. The seminary hosted a lunch for His Grace together with the Antiochian students and staff. On Sunday, the feast of St. Saba, Bishop Thomas celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral and also celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas that day, followed by a dinner and dance in the Cathedral hall.
St. Stylianos Books was founded by Lily Parascheva Rowe to publish books she has written with illustrator Roland J Ford. Both attend Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum MD. In looking for children's books for her children, Rowe found that there wasn't much Bible story material available in English to give her children something to return to again and again--without the need for parental revisions or additions in order to make the Bible story books truly Orthodox.
Astounded by the overall lack of material in English for Orthodox children, Lily started writing books which combine elements from iconography and the hymnography of the Church, while interweaving these things with the Traditional narrative of the Church. "The main difference a reader will notice between these books and typical Bible story books is the completion of the narrative," she explains.
On November 13, 2010, the parish of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania warmly welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas on the occasion of their annual patronal feast day celebration. Sayidna Thomas began the weekend festivities by attending a dinner with the parish council members and their spouses on Friday evening.
On Saturday morning, His Grace presided at the Divine Liturgy concelebrated by the Very Reverend Fr. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom and Reverend Stephen Vernak of Christ the Savior OCA Church in Harrisburg. Following Divine Liturgy, Sayidna enjoyed breakfast and interaction with the children in the parish hall. In the afternoon, the Teen SOYO met with Bishop Thomas for a session of “Ask Sayidna.” Great Vespers was then concelebrated by Fr. Peter and Fr. Nicholas Alford of St. Gregory the Great Church in Washington D.C., with Bishop Thomas presiding. Following Great Vespers, a gala banquet was held at nearby Heritage Hills Resort.
2011 Parish Life Conference + Diocese of Charleston and New York
Hosted by St. Mary Church; Hunt Valley, MD
June 29-July 3, 2011
Fr. Noah Bushelli writes:
By God's grace, the prayers for many, and the wisdom, love, and forbearance of Sayedna Philip and Sayedna Thomas, much good for the Kingdom of God is being accomplished here at St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania.
We were recently blessed with an special visit from Bishop Thomas, October 7-10.
On Thursday, Sayedna accompanied myself and Cranford Coulter, the founder and director of The King's Jubilee to Center City Philadelphia where a food, clothing, and a good word was shared with about 150 homeless and hungry people. (For more on The King's Jubilee see www.shoutforjoy.net)
An article in the Food and Living section of the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia, has reported on an upcoming festival at St. George Cathedral which will feature icons. Keynote speaker Paul Finley, Executive Director of Antiochian Village, will be speaking on the topic "Icons, Not Idols: A Call to Christians to Give Their Sight to God."
The parish hopes to reach out to art lovers as well as those who already appreciate the intrinsic religious value of icons.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
Explains the Charlotte Ferrell Smith of the Daily Mail, "Featured iconographers from Pennsylvania include Michael Goltz of Pittsburgh; Michael Kapeluck of Carnegie; Nicholas Papas of Greensburg, and Cheryl Ann Pituch of Davidsville.
Father Andrew, a monk at the Holy Cross Hermitage in Wayne County, also will be on hand both days to demonstrate the process of painting an icon. Some refer to the process as writing an icon.
'Iconographers are theologians who write icons just like scripture is written,' said Father Olof Scott of St. George Cathedral.
'Laymen and priests do them. It involves preparation and prayer before starting. Iconography began in the first century. St. Luke was an iconographer who wrote the image of Jesus Christ.'"
During the weekend of October 8-10, 2010, the deacons of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic gathered with His Grace Bishop Thomas for the diocese's second annual deacons’ retreat. The deacons were hosted this year by Fr. Noah Bushelli, Fr. Deacon Herman Acker, and the parishioners of St. Philip Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania. The deacons gathered with Sayedna and Fr. Noah and Fr. Dn. Herman to pray the Supplication Service to St. Raphael Saturday morning before beginning their retreat sessions.
Over the course of several days in September 2010, the clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, MD, were blessed by a visit from His Grace, Bishop Thomas. Several events, liturgical and otherwise, were held during this period, giving the faithful multiple opportunities to greet, speak with, and be blessed by Sayedna.
Early in the week, the clergy and many of the faithful journeyed with His Grace to St. Mary Church in Hunt Valley, MD to join that congregation in the celebration of their Patronal Feast (Nativity of the Theotokos). Father Theodoros Daoud and the congregation welcomed us and provided a wonderful reception after the Liturgy.
On Wednesday, September 8, Holy Cross members and others met in the Parish Hall to hear an address by Bishop Thomas' spiritual son Dr. Tristram Engelhardt, entitled "After Christendom: Living in an Aggressively Post-Christian World." The address was well-received and discussion was vigorous and thoughtful.
Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip
The annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage was held on September 24-26 at the Antiochian Village. Bishop Thomas was the presiding hierarch, and Mother Alexandra of the Convent of St. Thekla was the main speaker of the weekend. Both of them talked on the theme of “Ascending the Mountain: It’s a Family Road Trip."
The main emphasis of the pilgrimage’s theme was in learning how to live an average, workaday life in a holy, Orthodox manner. Along with the talks by His Grace and Mother Alexandra, four small group discussions were led by clergy from the area. The topics included “Confession: Setting and Resetting the Course," “The Eucharist: What’s In Your Lunchbox?," “Holy Unction: First Aid and Urgent Care” and “The Walk: A discussion of the New York Times Best-Seller by Richard Paul Evans."
The priests of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic and the Diocese of New York and Washington gathered together for their annual clergy retreat at the Antiochian Village from September 19 to 24, 2010. The special guest speaker was His Grace Bishop Michael, the bishop of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America. He spoke about evangelism in America. Evangelism, he said, involves three fronts: evangelism to ourselves and our community, evangelism to inactive members, and evangelism to the unchurched. Bishop Michael's lectures gave the priests in attendance excellent guidance on ways to minister in all three of those aspects with a view toward building a healthy and vital parish community.
In addition to the presentations by Bishop Michael, Fr. John Nosal and Fr. Joseph Butts led a discussion of the short story, “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy. The priests also gathered for a service of supplication to St. Raphael of Brooklyn at his grave site. They also had a question and answer session with Bishop Michael and Bishop Thomas, and had a discussion based on a movie. The retreat culminated with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Friday morning.
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, Very Rev. Alexander Atty will be installed as the Seventh Dean of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, South Canaan, PA. The Installation Service will begin at 11:00 A.M. at St. Mary Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA, followed by a luncheon at the Church Hall, hosted by the Board of Trustees of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. An invitation is enclosed. Cost of a ticket will be $20.00 and your reservation can be made by contacting Leda Dzwonczyk, 3210 Rosalie Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21234, not later than October 15, 2010.
All are welcome to attend the installation, but attendees are asked to return the attached form to make reservations.
For more information, please download the invitation and reservation form (PDF).
Lust, Love, Sex and Marriage: Why God Cares About Your Body
Saturday, Sept. 11
St. Paul Church + Emmaus, Pennsylvania
On Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, St. Paul Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania will host a teen retreat from 2pm to approximately 7:30pm, led by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, entitled Lust, Love, Sex and Marriage: Why God Cares About Your Body. The retreat will conclude with Great Vespers at 6pm, followed by dinner together.
What Happens After We Die
Presented by Father Thomas Hopko
St. George Cathedral
Saturday, September 11, 2010
9:00 AM – Liturgy and continental breakfast
10:15 AM – First presentation
12:30 PM – Lunch
1:15 PM – Second presentation
4:00 PM – Third presentation
5:30 PM – Light dinner
6:30 PM – Vespers
Separate program for children ages 6-12.
Suggested donation $10.00. Reservations required: 412-681-2988
The Administrative Office of the Diocese of Charleston writes:
Beloved in Christ,
May God be with you always.
The diocesan office of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic is announcing that Bishop THOMAS has been invited as a guest of a group that will be making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP has kindly given his blessing for Bishop THOMAS to make this pilgrimage. The tentative dates for this trip are the first twelve days of June in 2011. Final dates have not been set yet and may vary by a few days earlier or later. The dates will be finalized after the Antiochian Archdiocese announces its dates for the Spring Local Synod Meeting and Board of Trustees Meeting.
This trip is being led by Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky of the Orthodox Church in America in Binghamton, NY. It's our understanding that some people have been approaching Bishop THOMAS about the possibility of joining him on a trip to the Holy Land. This trip is open to you if you choose to accept the invitation. All information regarding location, visitation, fares, etc. are available through Fr. Ilya, whose contact information follows. Please only contact Fr. Ilya. Neither Bishop THOMAS nor the diocesan office will be accepting inquiries about the trip.
(Lewistown, MD) On Saturday, July 31, 2010, His Grace Bishop Thomas conducted an episcopal visitation of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church located in Lewistown, Maryland. This was just his second visitation of the mission since the congregation converted to Holy Orthodoxy last March, and the first visitation since the mission’s pastor, Fr. James Hamrick, had been ordained to the priesthood last August by Bishop Thomas. Prior to their conversion, the mission had been affiliated with the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
For the Dioceses of Toledo, Ottawa, Charleston and New York, and Los Angeles and Eagle River, the Fourth of July holiday weekend ushered in the long-planned for Parish Life Conferences. With the Creative Festivals, liturgical worship, fellowship, and special speakers as the reward, the faithful of each diocese traveled long distances to convene over the holiday weekend. In Tucson, Arizona, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West met at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa, thanks to the hard working parishioners of Fr. Philip Nixon's parish, Holy Resurrection. Attendees were also able to sign up for day tours to two sacred Arizona sites, St. Anthony's and St. Paisius' Monasteries.
June 28, 2010
The Family of
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd
300 Virginia Street, E.
Charleston, WV 25301
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd into life everlasting earlier this morning.
The members of our diocese residing in our three West Virginia parishes, St. George Cathedral of Charleston, St. Nicholas Church of Beckley and Holy Spirit Church of Huntington, join with all West Virginians in sending our condolences. We join with West Virginians everywhere not only to lament his passing but to also celebrate his unequaled tenure and service to this great state and to our whole nation. His memory will long be remembered for many years to come.
Our commitments this week to be present with our Metropolitan Archbishop at our Eastern Dioceses Conference in Allentown, PA, through July 4 prevent us from personally delivering our condolences to you.
Our prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition is, “Christ our God, grant rest to Thy servant, Robert C. Byrd, in that place of brightness, that place of repose, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.”
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS
Bishop of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic
The Very Rev. Olof H. Scott, Dean
St. George Cathedral, Charleston, WV
The Rev. Fr. Stephen De Young, Assistant Pastor
St. George Cathedral, Charleston, WV
cc: Governor Joe Manchin, III
State of West Virginia
Recently, the editors at Antiochian.org interviewed His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic. This will be the first of a series of interviews with our bishops to be published in the coming months. (Read His Grace's biography here. Bishop THOMAS also selects a weekly reflection, collected under Notes from Bishop THOMAS.)
1. Your Grace, you attended the recent Episcopal Assembly in New York. Do you have any thoughts for our readers on this historic gathering?
Given the mutual isolation of our various jurisdictions for so many years, I found it especially encouraging that fifty-five bishops of Orthodoxy on this continent were able to come together, speak the same language together, and begin getting about the business of working out a common Church life together. This is what unity actually consists of, that we live together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Recently, Bishop Basil spoke with AFR correspondent Matthew Namee about the historic assembly of bishops which took place in the week following Pentecost. His Grace was elected Secretary of the Assembly. Below are excerpts from the interview, which can be found here in full:
"The bishops delighted in being together and doing the work of the Church."
"The ultimate task was to prepare the Orthodox (Church) of this region...to constitute itself as a canonical, single Church.…It is a huge task, one that a vast majority of Orthodox Christians in America have been praying for, hoping for, talking about, for a long, long time."
"It’s as if the Mother Churches have said to us, ‘Look, you have been asking for this. Before we give it to you, we would like to know, what is your plan?’"
"We were blessed by the work of SCOBA….the work of the Episcopal Assembly was made quite easy by the 50 years of preparation."
"The Episcopal Assembly is comprised of every Orthodox bishop, not just the primates. We had 55 in attendance, (in New York) where the maximum of SCOBA members would have been 8."
Ancient Faith Radio has also posted an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, titled Unraveling the Episcopal Assembly. Additionally, Antiochian.org has compiled a summary of online Assembly articles.