On the weekend prior to the commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29, 2012), His Grace Bishop Thomas made an episcopal visit to the faithful at St. John the Baptist Church  in Lewistown, Maryland. His Grace presided at Vespers on Saturday, August 25th and at Matins and Divine Liturgy on Sunday, August 26th. The visit marked the fourth time that Sayedna Thomas had visited the mission since it was established by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip on March 20, 2009. St. John the Baptist Mission, located about 65 miles from Baltimore and Washington, is the only Western Rite Antiochian Orthodox church in Maryland.
During the weekend celebrations, Bishop Thomas shared with the people how the commemoration had personal significance for him since he had served his first Divine Liturgy as a newly ordained priest on the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. His Grace proclaimed that the patron of the mission was not one who was politically-correct, but was rather one who was bold in the faith—who had “guts” and was willing to stand for the truth — and who, like the Theotokos, was willing to say “yes” to God, no matter the cost. Bishop Thomas encouraged the people of St. John the Baptist to follow the example of their patron, the Forerunner of Christ.
For Saturday Vespers, the mission’s priest and pastor, Fr. James Hamrick, was joined by visiting priests Fr. Nicholas Alford (and wife, Kh. Rebecca, St. Gregory the Great Church, Washington, D.C.) and Fr. Stanley Nield (and wife Kh. Mary, Antiochian Orthodox Mission,
Wellington, New Zealand). Fr. Stanley and Kh. Mary were guests of the Alfords and were able to visit St. John the Baptist Mission just ahead of their journey to their residency at the Antiochian House of Studies at Antiochian Village near Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Father James and the people of St. John the Baptist hosted a dinner at the nearby Lewistown United Methodist Church for Bishop Thomas. The bountiful spread of food included Sayedna’s favorite: fresh strawberries! Many years,