Diocese of Charleston News


Second Annual Diocese of Charleston Deacons' Retreat

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.

Bishop Thomas Visits Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, MD

Father Gregory Mathewes-Green writes:

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.

Annual St. Thekla Pilgrimage Focuses on Everyday Life

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."

Mid-Atlantic and New York Priests Gather for Clergy Retreat

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. 

Invitation to Installation of Fr. Alexander Atty as Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary

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).

Teen Retreat at St. Paul Church + Emmaus, PA

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.

St. George Cathedral Parish Retreat with Fr. Thomas Hopko

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

Bishop Thomas Planning Pilgrimage to Holy Land

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.

Bishop Thomas Visits St. John the Baptist Mission

(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.

Parish Life Conference Season Ends With A Bang on July 4

Bible Bowl winners with His Grace, Bishop JosephBible Bowl winners with His Grace, Bishop JosephFor 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.

Bishop THOMAS Extends Condolences to Family of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd

June 28, 2010

 

The Family of

U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd

300 Virginia Street, E.

Charleston, WV 25301

 

Dear Ones,

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.”

Sincerely,

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

Antiochian.org Interviews Bishop THOMAS

Bishop THOMAS (right) with Bishop JOSEPH and Metropolitan PHILIP at the Episcopal AssemblyBishop THOMAS (right) with Bishop JOSEPH and Metropolitan PHILIP at the Episcopal AssemblyRecently, 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.

Bishop Basil Reflects on Historic Episcopal Assembly

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?’"

On SCOBA:

"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.

Metropolitan PHILIP, Bishop THOMAS Celebrate Groundbreaking Weekend With St. George Faithful

The weekend of June 4th through the 6th proved to be a joyful and historic event for the community of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. Starting with the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, His Grace Bishop THOMAS and Archdeacon Hans on Friday, June 4, a weekend of celebration was set in motion for the groundbreaking of the new St. George Church.

On Saturday, June 5, our beloved Hierarchs began the day by meeting with some of the parents, teachers and children of our parish. The morning consisted of a dialogue between Metropolitan PHILIP and our children, and a special arts and crafts project. The groundbreaking Ceremony was celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on the land where the new St. George Church will be constructed. Metropolitan PHILIP and Bishop THOMAS blessed and planted a wooden cross on the land where the church will be built.

Bishop Thomas Visits Holy Trinity Mission

Lynchburg, Virginia

On May, 29, 2010, His Grace Bishop THOMAS was solemnly received at Vespers service by Father Alban Waggener and the members of Holy Trinity. Following Vespers, His Grace spoke to the members present about his vision for the church and the mission in Lynchburg. He noted that this region of the country is a difficult area to introduce people to Orthodoxy, however, “nothing is impossible with God”. He encouraged everyone to continue to preach the Gospel everywhere they go.

Following Vespers, His Grace joined the mission council for dinner at the Waggener home. Many topics were discussed including the future of the mission in Lynchburg and how it can reach out to others in the community. His Grace is positive about the the Mission and the future of Orthodoxy in Lynchburg.

Images of Episcopal Assembly Divine Liturgy from Bishop THOMAS

Bishop THOMAS has provided pictures of the Divine Liturgy that concluded the May 2010 North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. The Liturgy was served at Manhattan's Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Click here to view the photo gallery.

Bishop THOMAS Provides First Pictures of Episcopal Assembly

His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic has graciously provided the first pictures of the 2010 North and Central American Episcopal Assembly. Click here to view the gallery.

Make sure to check back over the course of the Assembly as this gallery is updated.

Images of the Assembly are also available via this gallery provided by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Bishop THOMAS Visits St. Nicholas Church in Beckley, West Virginia

Bishop THOMAS ordaining George LowenBishop THOMAS ordaining George LowenBy Fr. Samuel Haddad

During the weekend of May 1st, 2010, His Grace, Bishop THOMAS made his annual pastoral visit to St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Beckley, West Virginia. Because of a severe winter with record snowfall, Sayidna THOMAS’ visit was rescheduled twice, and it was good to have him with us during the beautiful Pentecostarian Season, with spring in full swing and no possibility of snow.

Sayidna’s THOMAS’ visit included meetings with the Parish Council, the Women of the Holy Myrrh Bearers (the parish’s women’s organization), Vespers, and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. It was truly a celebration weekend with the tonsuring of our Choir Master John Stroud as Reader, and the ordination of George Lowen to the Subdeaconate. Both men are strong leaders and ministers in the parish, and their work of service to God will only increase with His help.

The Faithful of St. Nicholas reviewed with Sayidna THOMAS the many activities that have brought vitality to our parish community, especially the liturgical life of the parish, and outreach projects such as Carpenter’s Corner, a downtown soup kitchen the we had the blessing to help bring into existence with Fr. Samuel serving as a member of the founding board of directors.

Bishop THOMAS Attends Consecration of OCA Bishop MICHAEL

On May 8, 2010 His Grace Bishop THOMAS attended the consecration of Bishop MICHAEL, the OCA's new Bishop of New York and New Jersey. Presiding at the consecration Divine Liturgy was His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH, and other members of the Holy Synod of Bishops. The Consecration took place in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Click here to see more pictures of the Consecration and Liturgy

Bishop THOMAS Visits Holy Spirit Church + Huntington, WV

On April 17-18, 2010, Bishop THOMAS made his annual pastoral visit to Holy Spirit Church in Huntington, West Virginia.  Sayidna THOMAS was consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic in 2004, and this was his first visit to Huntington that did not involve discussions of building planning and construction.

In 1999, our parish made the decision to sell our church building, which had been our home since the early 1970’s, and move to a new location.  Being a community of fewer than 100 members, it was a huge challenge.  The existing property, however, was in need of significant renovations and concern was raised over the decline of the surrounding residential neighborhood. The church property was placed on the market for sale and a committee was established to raise funds and search for a suitable location. In a surprising move, a buyer was found for the current church building before a new location could be agreed upon. In the spring of 2000, the parish voted to accept a purchase offer and moved into temporary quarters that were graciously provided by Fifth Avenue Baptist Church. The parish utilized this chapel for the next three years.

In 2001, in order to encourage the parish to move ahead with planning and free up additional funds for construction, parishioner Richard Dixon was ordained to the Holy Priesthood, taking the name of John.  He would continue his secular employment until the parish could once again afford a full-time priest. On August 1 of that year, he was assigned as pastor of Holy Spirit. That same month, parish Deacon Mark Hagan was ordained to the priesthood and assigned as pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church of Iron Mountain, Michigan.

Bishop THOMAS Visits Holy Cross Monastery

On Sunday, April 18, 2010, His Grace Bishop THOMAS visited Holy Cross monastery in Wayne, West Virginia:

Palm Sunday at St. George Cathedral, Charleston, WV

On Sunday March 28, 2010, His Grace Bishop THOMAS celebrated Palm Sunday at St. George Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia.

Click here to see more photos from the celebration

Paschal Greetings from His Grace Bishop THOMAS

Beloved in Christ,

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen!

It is with great joy that I greet you this year in celebration of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ!

Christ has broken down the gates of Hades by freely submitting to a death which could not contain Him.  We rejoice, for death has been swallowed up by His glorious death and third-day resurrection. 

Today, Life springs from the tomb, the door to the Kingdom of Heaven is opened, and the Light of Christ that illumines all shines forth brilliantly!  

Jesus Christ is our Life.  He is our Resurrection.  He is our Pascha.  

We rejoice, because this is God's gift to us. 

May you enjoy a blessed Paschal season this year.

Yours in Christ,

 

 

 

Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS
Bishop of Charleston/Oakland and Assistant to the Metropolitan

Bishop THOMAS visits St. Paraskevi Monastery in Washington, Texas

On March 9, 2010, His Grace Bishop THOMAS visited St. Paraskevi Monastery in Washington, Texas for the feast day of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. It was His Grace's first visit to the Monastery. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, who serves at St. George Church in Houston, Texas, accompanied His Grace.

For more pictures, please visit Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's blog.

Bishop THOMAS Celebrates Sunday of Orthodoxy and Baptism in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

Click above for more photosClick above for more photosIn the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010, His Grace, Bishop THOMAS, celebrated the Sunday of Orthodoxy service with His Grace, Bishop TIKHON of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania (OCA) at the Church of St. Nicholas (OCA) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Numerous area clergy and laity celebrated this service together, including a proclamation of the common faith of the Orthodox Church, as well as the traditional anathemas which Orthodoxy levels against dangerous, heretical doctrines.  Five different SCOBA jurisdictions were represented among the clergy, including (besides the two bishops) eighteen priests and five deacons.

Sayidna THOMAS presented a homily before the service in which he stressed that Orthodox Christians are icons of Christ, that each of us is an ambassador of the Kingdom of God in this world, no matter our circumstances.  After the liturgical service, the clergy and faithful heard a short presentation on the work of the Lehigh Valley Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood which sponsored the event and then together shared a Lenten meal.