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Metropolitan Joseph Visits St. Ignatius Church + Twin Falls, ID

Karen Hefner writes:

On the weekend of August 22-23, 2015, our little parish of St. Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Church in Twin Falls, Idaho was graced with the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. Our father and chief shepherd celebrated the baptism of our newest member, Maximus Joseph Habib, new infant son of Fr. Michael and Kh. Masha Habib.

Special guests attended from throughout the Orthodox communities in our surrounding area, as well as many others both of our Orthodox faithful and non-Orthodox alike. The visiting clergy included, Fr. Mark Fenn, Archdeacon George Shishim, Deacon Mark Townsend, Deacon Christopher Payne, Deacon John Mahfouz, Subdeacon Thomas Rice, Subdeacon Peter Samore and Subdeacon Matthew Romero.

On Saturday, August 22, the church was overflowing with more than 90 people when the metropolitan arrived. Parish members joyfully rang the bells and the choir sang, "Blessed is he who cometh in the Name of the Lord" and "Eis polla eti, Destpota," as they and all those present welcomed Sayidna for the first time as the Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Although crammed into our little church, there was great excitement among the faithful as we witnessed the sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation and Eucharist being bestowed upon little Maximus Joseph by our Metropolitan.

Shortly after the baptism, Fr. Michael and Kh. Masha hosted a splendid reception at the Stone House, a short drive from the church. That evening, His Eminence presided over Great Vespers, after which the parish council had dinner as well as a warm visit with our much beloved chief shepherd.

On Sunday morning the bells once again joyfully rang as His Eminence entered the church to preside over Orthros and celebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Just before the beginning of Liturgy, one of our founders and most faithful members was surprised by his elevation to the subdeaconate. Gregory Panatopoulos, a tonsured reader and senior choir member for many years, was called forward by His Eminence to receive this much deserved elevation. During his homily, Sayidna reminded us of the importance of attending the divine services of the Church, and how babies are full members of the Church. Lastly, he spoke about his ministry as the Metropolitan to save souls as a servant in the Church.

What a glorious weekend for all who were present! Non-Orthodox who came commented on the blessings they received from their presence with us, and all of the faithful of St. Ignatius were made aware of the opportunity they had just been given to spread the fullness of their Orthodox Christian faith with others.

We thank our beloved Metropolitan Joseph for celebrating the baptism and spending invaluable time with us. We congratulate Fr. Michael and Kh. Masha on the baptism of their first child, Maximus Joseph into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and offer our prayers and love to our new Subdeacon Gregory Panatopoulos and his wife, Mary Lou. May God grant you all many years.