One man’s spiritual journey ends with a congregation’s conversion
Lewistown is now home to Maryland’s first Western Rite Orthodox church
by Ron Cassie of The Frederick News-Post
It was a moment Hamrick’s congregation in Lewistown has been waiting for since early spring. On April 10, his small flock at the former Charismatic Episcopal Lamb of God Church converted en masse to the Antiochian Orthodox faith, which includes both Western Rite and Eastern Orthodox churches.
At Hamrick’s urging, the 40-member congregation, which worships in a church built in 1883 by Methodists, was officially accepted as an Orthodox mission in March. After preparation, members went through the sacramental rite of chrismation into the Antiochian Orthodox faith. Further highlighting their transformation, the congregation adopted a new name: St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church.
This weekend, Hamrick will lead an Orthodox Sunday Mass for the first time at the church, marking the final step for the 45-year-old priest and his congregation as Maryland’s first Western Rite Orthodox church.
“For the people who have endured a rather long and difficult journey, this doesn’t mark the end, but a fresh new beginning,” Hamrick said. “We’re excited about what God is doing — about being pioneers and evangelists, about bringing Holy Orthodoxy which is the faith of the Apostles and the ancient Church to the people of Frederick County living in the 21st century.”
On Sunday, August 23, 2009, Bishop THOMAS (Joseph) ordained James K. Hamrick to the Holy Priesthood in the Orthodox Church, Antiochian Christian Archdiocese. The ordination ceremony was conducted during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Saint Basil the Great Orthodox Church in Poquoson, Virginia (near Newport News). The host priest and pastor of the church, Father Gregory MacGregor, was one of Hamrick’s three priest sponsors. Father MacGregor had introduced Hamrick to Holy Orthodoxy three years earlier during a family vacation to Williamsburg, VA. At that time Hamrick was a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church and had just planted a new mission in Lewistown, Maryland named Lamb of God Church—all of this after having previously served as a United Methodist pastor for six years in the Harpers Ferry, WV area.
Hamrick’s other two priest sponsors for his ordination were present and included Father Patrick Cardine, pastor of St. Patrick Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA; and Father Nicholas Alford, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, DC, both of whom were also the catechists for Hamrick’s congregation when they made a decision to become Orthodox last year.
St. Mary's Patronal Feast was a joyous weekend. His Grace Bishop THOMAS arrived on August 14, 2009 for the celebration of a Vesperal Divine Liturgy. On the following morning, His Grace blessed the beginning of the festival which drew in faithful and neighbors from Johnstown and beyond for food, fellowship and Church tours throughout the day, ending with Vespers. On Sunday morning, His Grace celebrated a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy followed by a presentation of awards to children who participated in the Creative Arts and Oratorical Festivals and brunch with a question and answer session.
Iowa City, IA – August 11, 2009 – On Saturday, August 22, at St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Mission is hosting an open house in their new location at 722 East College Street, Iowa City. Since purchasing the historic building, St. Raphael Orthodox Mission has been working diligently to renovate this historic building and convert it into and Orthodox Christian house of worship. The open house is an event for the whole community, including food, a bouncy castle for the kids, and short choral performances of exquisite Byzantine, Russian and Georgian sacred melodies from the St. Raphael Choir and other local musicians. All attending are invited to attend Vespers, an Orthodox evening prayer service, beginning at 6 PM.
AXIOS! On Sunday, August 9th, 2009, His Grace Bishop BASIL ordained to the holy priesthood Deacon John Ballard, a DOWAMA vocation from Ss. Constantine and Helen Church in Dallas, Texas and a senior at St. Vladimir's Seminary, at his home parish in Dallas.
HE IS WORTHY! On Sunday, August 16th, at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, His Grace ordained to the holy diaconate Subdeacon Basil Anderson of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Wichita.
Founded by a Saint
The parish of St. George of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has a long and rich history. Started in 1914 by a group of 25 Syrian and Lebanese immigrant families, St. George has evolved over the years into a multi-ethnic parish serving close to 200 families. The founding families had gathered in Cedar Rapids from several nearby farms and small towns and sought to build a church in order to help them raise their children in the Faith. Under the spiritual guidance of our Father among the Saints, RAPHAEL of Brooklyn, who presided at the first Divine Liturgy, those founding families managed to collect $4,000 in donations and borrow an additional $6,000 to finance the construction of their beloved St. George Church. Today, a shrine housing the icon of St. RAPHAEL, along with his Holy relic, stands along the north wall of the church sanctuary in recognition of his role in the founding of our parish.
St. Luke the Evangelist Mission began in 2002 under the guidance of Archpriest Elias Meena to provide an Orthodox Christian witness to the East side of the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. There are over two dozen Orthodox parishes in the region, but most of them are located either in central Cleveland or on the West side. The mission’s initial efforts under Fr. Meena included founding a community in the greater Solon area, the purchase of property for a permanent location, and the preparation of architectural plans for a church temple and hall.
Sadly, Fr. Meena’s untimely death in the summer of 2005 significantly curtailed the momentum of St. Luke’s. After Fr. Meena’s repose, the mission was served by two more priests on a part-time basis.
Archpriest James Kenna, 74, of St. Sophia in Dripping Springs, TX, was fatally injured in an automobile accident on Sunday, July 26th 2009. Services for Fr. James will be held at St. Sophia on Tuesday July 28 and Wednesday July 29th; see below for further details, or visit St. Sophia's web site.
From the Austin American Statesman:
The Rev. James Kenna was an energetic Dripping Springs pastor who founded several Orthodox Christian parishes in Central Texas and, even in retirement, was looking to establish more.
"He never wanted to quit," said the Rev. David Barr, the pastor of St. Elias Orthodox Church in Austin. Kenna, 74, died Sunday afternoon in a car wreck on his way home from lunch with a parishioner after attending church in Dripping Springs. Austin police officials said Kenna's PT Cruiser left Texas 45 for an unknown reason, crashed into a fence and flipped over into a retention pond.
The Great Feast of Pentecost was a momentous weekend for The Holy Spirit Antiochian Orthodox Church in Huntington, WV. Pentecost is the church's feast, and they just completed construction of their new social hall and Sunday School annex. To celebrate, a banquet and hafli was conducted on Saturday, June 6. The following morning, Bishop THOMAS conducted hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Included was the installation of Abraham Saad to Subdeacon and the elevation of pastor Fr. John Dixon to Archpriest.