St. Athanasius Church Hosts Liturgical Arts Festival
St. Athanasius Church in Goleta, California hosted its first Liturgical Arts Festival on October 21-22, 2011. This year's festival focused on the theology, history, meaning and technical process of writing icons. Visitors from throughout the county and the central California coast attended three different lectures by iconographer and wood carver, Fr. Jerome Sanderson from Nashville, Indiana (and a priest in the OCA Bulgarian Diocese). Guests also viewed the dozens of hand-crafted icons which hang in the sanctuary of St. Athanasius Church, nearly all of them written in the late 1980s by renowned iconographer Jan Isham. In addition, an exhibit of rare and unusual icons on loan from private collectors was presented in the church's fellowship hall. The Central California Guild of Iconographers presented a fascinating and educational display demonstrating each part of the process of writing an icon, from preparing the board to putting on the final protective coating of oil. On Friday, October 21 during the day, groups of local high school students attended separate sessions taught by Fr. Sanderson and Fr. Nicholas Speier, the Senior Pastor of St. Athanasius parish.
In March of 2011, St. Athanasius parish moved into a new building in Goleta in a highly visible location. For years, "home" was a small building with no fellowship hall in Isla Vista, even prior to the parish coming, en masse, into the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1986. The new building is a transitional solution to accommodate growth, as the parish breaks ground in November 2011 on a new church complex. The Liturgical Arts Festival was a way to invite the Santa Barbara/Goleta community into the church and connect with them through the beauty of Orthodox Liturgical Art. The plan is to continue to expand the festival to include all of the various forms of artistry used in Orthodox worship as a tool for education and evangelism.