by Dn. Mark Berge
Photos by Kirk Tatusko and Ron Brotzman
 On February 14, 2009, the parish of St. Luke Orthodox Church  in Lafayette, Colorado was honored to welcome His Grace Bishop Basil for the service of ground-breaking at the site of our new temple.
Our parish has been blessed with increasing membership since its founding in 1991. The current temple, seating 200, was built in 1995 with a subsequent expansion in 1998. We tried to expand our church again, but this proved impossible given the county's firm rules on development and our lack of sufficient land. With steady growth in new members our beloved Bishop Basil challenged us in October of 2007 to move to a new location and erect a beautiful temple with seating for 400 to 450 people. We were frankly astounded when he went on to predict that such a task could be done in about two years if God blessed it. Our priest Father David Mustian had been encouraging us to pray about our space needs for several years. With the core of a building committee already in place we were eager to try to meet our bishop’s challenge.
Early in 2007, we had found beautiful nine-acre site only minutes from our current building, in the town of Erie and centrally located at the intersection of two main thoroughfares. After much prayer and due diligence, and with the blessing of our bishop, we were able to complete the purchase of this land. Providentially, we soon received an unsolicited offer to buy our current land and building, from another Church which was selling its building to a developer and seeking another location. The building planning committee and parish council spent many hours in planning the design of our new Church with our Orthodox architect, Christ Kamages, under the guidance of our bishop.
 February 14 was a very cold and wintry day, but we were warmed by the prayers of many of the clergy and faithful from our own and nearby congregations, who joined Bishop Basil in the blessing of the site of our future altar, the first turning of the dirt, and the raising of the cross, to the beautiful sounds of hymns and chants from our choir and chanters. Afterwards we met across the street at the Erie Community Center, where we enjoyed warm drinks and refreshments and heard gracious remarks from the mayor of the Town. Bishop Basil thanked the mayor and town officials for their warm welcome to the Church of Christ, something that is not to be taken for granted in these times. His Grace reminded us not to become proud, but rather to be grateful to God for His blessings.
 That night at Great Vespers our bishop exhorted us to continue our prayer and sacrificial giving, and always to remain patient with each other, resisting the temptation to rest on our laurels when we have only begun the second phase of this project, the construction of a new holy temple to God. We thank our good Lord for His providence and our bishop for his guidance and holy prayers, and anticipate the day sometime this fall when, God willing, we will celebrate our first Divine Liturgy in this beautiful new temple.
Deacon Mark Berge was chrismated at St. Luke Orthodox Church in Lafayette, CO by Father David Mustian in July of 2001 and has previously served as choir director and a member of the Parish Council. He was tonsured a reader in 2005 and made a subdeacon in 2006 by His Grace Bishop Basil. He was ordained to the holy diaconate by Bishop Basil in December of 2008 after completing studies in the St. Stephen’s program, and is assigned to the parish of St. Luke.