On Sunday, November 10, His Grace George, Bishop of Mayfield conducted the first hierarchical visit to St. Herman of Alaska Church in Stafford, VA. In January of this year, the small "country church" was received into the Russian Church Abroad from the Orthodox Church in America.
The glorious day began with the arrival of His Grace and the traditional greeting with bread and salt, followed by the entrance prayers and vesting of the bishop in the midst of the faithful. During the reading of the Sixth Hour, Bishop George tonsured three men of the parish to the order of Reader: Steven Terrell, Jason Connerley (who is also the parish warden), and Palmer Moses Swift.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was an extraordinarily joyous occasion. The Eastern American Diocesan vicar bishop was concelebrated by Southern dean Archpriest Victor Potapov, parish rector Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, PhD, Protodeacon Leonid Mickle (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC), and parish Deacon Alexander Laymon.
On behalf of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop George presented Archpriest Alexander with a Gramota to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 2012 and his many years of service to the Church as a parish priest, U.S. Army chaplain, and college and seminary professor. Fr. Victor and Fr. Leonid also presented to the parish a relic of St. Herman of Alaska, Heavenly patron of the parish.
Following an outdoor group photo, the clergy and faithful repaired across the grounds to the Christ the Savior Fellowship Hall for a sumptuous feast prepared by the Sisterhood and other parishioners. The host pastor thanked the distinguished guests and acknowledged the numerous volunteers whose herculean efforts had contributed to a memorable day. Bishop George graciously fielded questions from the faithful in an unplanned session of "Ask the Bishop."
That evening, long after the day’s activities had concluded, Areti Stylianopoulos, liturgical music director, spoke for the clergy and faithful of St. Herman of Alaska Church when she waxed eloquent:
"Christ is in our midst, as never before. Our music was the sweetest spiritual sacrifice we have ever offered at our modest, love-filled chapel hidden in the woods of Stafford. We sounded vibrant, full of live and vigor, and our hearts were filled by His abundant warmth and grace as we praised Him in song. I felt a quiet calm enveloping me, as I was driving down I-95 South today and toward the last leg of my journey. Never before have I felt so ebullient and in awe about the tiniest things that I often routinely ignore around me. Suddenly, I was overcome by a feeling of overwhelming beauty around me. The leaves looked even more brilliant than usual in their autumnal splendor, and I felt part of something much bigger than myself."
Credit: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese. "Stafford, VA: Bishop George visits St. Herman of Alaska Church." Eastern American Diocese, Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. N.p., 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
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7:00 Adult Religious Education
4:30 Catechumen's Class
6:00 Great Vespers and Confessions
9:30 Reading of the Hours
10:00 Divine Liturgy followed by Fellowship Hour