Local Orthodox clergy, and parishioners and friends of St. Elijah Church  in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma gathered on Sunday evening, September 19, 2010, to offer thanks to God and to celebrate a milestone in the life of our parish. For ninety years the vine that was transplanted from Lebanon by immigration and then firmly established by the coming of Fr. Shukrallah Shadid as founding pastor in 1920 has grown and flourished. Today St. Elijah continues to offer the ancient worship, now in a large and modern temple; and she continues to proclaim the Word of God to a world in need of salvation.
A pre-banquet social hour began at 6pm, with attendees renewing acquaintances and reminiscing about old times. At 7pm all were invited to take their seats and hear St. Elijah’s choir perform three beautiful hymns under the direction of longtime choir director Alexander Mamary. They sang “I Leave You My Peace,” “Rejoice, O Virgin,” and “From the Rising of the Sun.”
Fr. Constantine Nasr offered the invocation, then James Farha (Chair of the Ninetieth Anniversary Committee, and Banquet Master of Ceremonies) introduced the evening’s program. While a delicious meal catered by Ned and Stacy Shadid was served, a slide show was screened entitled “Coming to America,” which had been prepared for the parish’s 75th Anniversary by Harvey Homsey and Karla Cohlmia. The historic photos stirred memories and were met with applause, and at times tears.
Trey Kouri, President of St. Elijah Parish Council, addressed the banquet and announced the recipient of the 2010 Genesis Award: Pancho Shadid. Pancho has been a lifelong member of St. Elijah, and served as one of its original altar boys. This award honors his lifetime of dedicated service to the parish. Christopher Farha, son of the parish and an accomplished musician, then sang “The Impossible Dream” (accompanied by Dr. Vicki Schaeffer).
Fr. Constantine Nasr, now in his 29th year pastoring this flock, delivered his reflections on this historic occasion. He read congratulatory letters from Metropolitan Philip, primate of our Archdiocese, and from Bishop Basil of our Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. He also announced that his chronology of the parish’s history would soon be printed and distributed to all parishioners.
Fr. Constantine then announced a number of awards. Peter Shadid was named Altar Boy of the Year. Several parishioners received Meritorious Awards signed by Metropolitan Philip, recognizing their contributions to the life of our church: Pancho Shadid; Ed Harroz, Sr. (posthumously presented to his widow Dorothy Harroz); Richard Yeagar; and Ned and Stacy Shadid.
Four parishioners gave reflections on their experience at St. Elijah. Charles Shadid spoke about the building of St. Elijah’s current facilities, and the spirit of cooperation that enabled this to succeed. Betsy Buck spoke about her discovery of Orthodoxy at St. Elijah and her appreciation for the parish’s living testimony to the ancient faith. Tami Simon described the importance of the parish as a spiritual foundation for families. Dr. Joseph Ghata, a young man raised in the parish, spoke about the inspiration he received here to embrace the faith of his fathers.
After closing remarks from Master of Ceremonies James Farha, Christopher Farha (who also happens to be his son) performed another song, entitled “You Raise Me Up” (again accompanied by Dr. Schaeffer). Fr. Jeremy Davis, assistant priest, gave the Benediction.
Special thanks for their work on and contributions to this wonderful celebration are due to many people. The 90th Anniversary Committee included Fr. Constantine Nasr, James Farha, Trey Kouri, George Cohlmia, Jan Farha Klopp, Ned Shadid and Todd Naifeh. Richard Yeagar professionally filmed the event. Wine and spirits were provided by Pancho’s Liquortown (Pancho & Joyce Shadid; Kendall & Brenda Wilson), Action Wholesale Liquor (Dr. Tad & Debbie Shadid; Dr. Jeff & Renae Shadid) and Premium Brands (Rick & Julie Naifeh). Printing was provided by Oklahoma Executive Printing (Nick & Terri Kakish) and Sooner Printing (George Salamy). Last, but not least, the delicious meal was catered by Ned’s Catering (Ned & Stacy Shadid).
Photos courtesy of Dr. Paul Shadid.