His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, presided at the annual pilgrimage of clergy and faithful from the Diocese of the West to Fort Ross State Historic Park on Saturday, July 4, 2015.
Situated north of San Francisco on California’s coastal Highway One, Fort Ross flourished during the first four decades of the 19th century as an outpost of the Russian-American Company. Faithful have been gathering at the site every year since July 4, 1925 for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and fellowship at the first Orthodox Christian chapel in the lower forty-eight. Following the Liturgy, the faithful went in procession to the cemetery of the 19th century Russian settlement, where they celebrated a memorial service.
Originally built in the mid-1820s, the Fort’s Most Holy Trinity Chapel was the first Orthodox Christian house of worship in North America outside of Alaska. Although the colony had no resident priest, Father John Veniaminov — glorified in 1977 as Saint Innocent of Alaska — visited the settlement, where he celebrated the sacraments and the Divine Liturgy. Father John later became the first resident Bishop in North America, where he was engaged in extensive missionary work throughout Alaska until his appointment as Metropolitan of Moscow in 1868. [Read the life of Saint Innocent.]
“The chapel is constructed from wooden boards,” Saint Innocent wrote in his 1936 Journal. “It has a small belfry and is rather plain; its entire interior decoration consists of two icons in silver rizas. The chapel at Fort Ross receives almost no income from its members or from those Russians who are occasional visitors.”
The original chapel was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake; only the roof and two towers remained intact. Between 1916 and 1918, the chapel was rebuilt with timbers from the Fort’s Officials’ Quarters and the Warehouse. On October 5, 1970, the restored chapel was entirely destroyed in an accidental fire. Again it was rebuilt in 1973. The chapel bell also melted in the fire, but was recast in Belgium using a rubbing and metal from the original Russian bell. The bell’s Church Slavonic inscription reads, “O Heavenly King, receive all who glorify Him,” while a second inscription along the lower edge reads, “Cast at the foundry of Michael Makar Stukolkin, master founder and merchant at the city of Saint Petersburg.”
“Bay Area Orthodox Christian faithful worked with the State of California and other benefactors in the 20th century to preserve the Fort and the Chapel,” according to Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov of San Francisco, CA. “The annual Fourth of July pilgrimage to Fort Ross offers a beautiful opportunity for the faithful of the Diocese of the West to gather and to offer thanksgiving to God for those who brought the faith to this land and for the United States, where we are free to worship the Most Holy Trinity in the Orthodox manner.”
Similar gatherings are held at Fort Ross on Memorial Day and other occasions.
A revision of the Finance Resolution, slated to be presented at the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015, has been approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. The text, which replaces that of the resolution already posted, is now available on the OCA and AAC web sites.
In light of issues that arose with regard to the Finance Resolution presented in the Delegate’s Handbook, revisions had been made to the resolution. Voting on the proposed resolution will take place at the AAC’s Third Plenary Session, scheduled for Tuesday, July 21.
By way of background, at the February 2015 meeting of the Metropolitan Council, a Finance Resolution, to be presented at the AAC, was passed. Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, immediately began to travel to various Diocesan Council meetings to discuss, explain and garner support for the resolution.
“It became apparent within the first month that the resolution as proposed by the Metropolitan Council would not pass at the AAC, as there was tremendous objection to the ‘floor’ in the proposal,” said Ms. Ringa. “At the Holy Synod meeting in March 2015, the Finance Resolution was revised, with a compromise being reached by removing the floor but increasing the proportional rates and increasing the contributions from the ethic dioceses. This is the resolution that appears in the AAC Delegate Handbook, and is attached as Exhibit A.”
Further movement on the resolution occurred when the members of the Holy Synod met for their annual retreat June 8-11, 2015.
“The Holy Synod again amended the resolution, and it is attached as Exhibit B,” Ms. Ringa added. “The revision in this version was to remove the section regarding increasing the contributions of the ethnic dioceses.”
As a result, according to Ms. Ringa, the financial impact of the resolution before the Holy Synod’s revision was a reduction in the Central Administration budget of $400,000.00 over three years, whereas after the revision this reduction increased to $495,000.00 over the same period.
“Meetings with the Dioceses of the South, West and Midwest and the Archdiocese of Washington, DC immediately before and after the Holy Synod retreat indicated that while there is support for the overall resolution, the cuts to the Central Administration budget over the next three years were of deep concern,” Ms. Ringa continued. “Therefore, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, asked the Finance Committee to propose a revision to the latest Holy Synod resolution, and that this proposal then be communicated to the Metropolitan Council. If the latter agreed to it, it will be presented to the Holy Synod for their blessing.”
“The resolution had attempted to take all the dioceses down to a proportional rate of 34% by 2018,” Ms. Ringa explained. “While this rate is still our goal, we realized that it is unrealistic to take those dioceses that are in the 50-60% ranges down to 34% in so short a period of time. Exhibit C takes these dioceses down to a maximum rate of 46% by 2018, and the overall proportional rate falls from 46% to 41%.”
During the last week of June, Metropolitan Council members weighed in in favor of the new resolution proposed by the Finance Committee. The resolution was subsequently presented to the Holy Synod, which gave its blessing to post it in lieu of the previously posted resolution.
According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the posting does not need to fall within the 60 day/30 day time frame indicated in the current Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, as resolutions may be received at any time with the Holy Synod’s blessing.
Ancient Faith Ministries [AFM] announces the re-design of www.ancientfaith.com, which now features the full integration of all of its divisions—Ancient Faith Radio, Ancient Faith Publishing, Ancient Faith Blogs, and Ancient Faith Films. The new site officially launched on Monday, June 15, 2015.
The new site uses a magazine format to feature four different types of content. It will also allow users to search podcasts by “groups,” “themes,” “authors,” “freshness,” and “recent episodes.” The content on the site is almost fully tagged and categorized, which makes the search function much more accurate and robust. There is also a complete authors’ list with bios of all contributors of podcasts, books, and blogs.
“Ancientfaith.com is no longer just the home of Ancient Faith Radio; rather, it is the home of each division of Ancient Faith Ministries, combining all of our content—print, audio, video, and retail—into one seamless, integrated, and complementary package,” says AFM CEO John Maddex.
“The new site has a clean, attractive design, yes, but what we’re most excited about is the new organizational interface that makes it easier to navigate around the site and locate content,” says Ancient Faith Radio Operations Manager Bobby Maddex.
The totally new web site will be enhanced over the next several months, adding the ability for visitors to customize their experience by creating playlists which can be shared.
“The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such ‘marriages.’
“The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.
“As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans.”
“We welcome AAC delegates and observers, as well as those unable to attend the AAC, to read through the synopsis,” said Priest Nathan Preston, Administrator of the recently revived Department of Pastoral Life and Ministry.
“After a dormant period of several years’ inactivity, the Department of Pastoral Life was reorganized at the start of 2015 and has endeavored since then to begin the work that is its charge: to aid and support clergy and their families so that they may continue to serve and lead the faithful from a place of health,” said Father Nathan. “To this end, the colloquium met in April for an inaugural conversation exploring those issues now facing priests and their families.”
The Bookkeeper reports to the Associate Chancellor for Finance. Duties for the 20-hour-per-week position include
daily receipting and application of student payments.
preparation of student invoicing each semester.
reconciliation of student receivable ledger with general ledger.
preparation of monthly student statements and collection of receivables.
daily receipting of SVS Press/Bookstore payments.
monthly processing of employee credit card receipts with SVS credit card invoices.
monthly input of Endowment Investment transactions.
generation of monthly departmental actual vs. budget reports.
other duties as assigned.
An undergraduate degree in Accounting is preferred, while prior bookkeeping or junior staff accountant experience is necessary.
Interested candidates may e-mail or post resumes to Ms. Melanie Ringa, Associate Chancellor for Finance, Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yonkers, NY: SVS Press to debut Gospel Commentary by Archbishop Dmitri at 18th AAC
Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press will formally debut The Holy Gospel According to Saint John: A Pastoral Commentary, by His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri [Royster], at the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, to be held in Atlanta, GA July 20-24, 2015. The release of the volume, published posthumously—Archbishop Dmitri fell asleep in the Lord in 2013—was timed to coincide with the opening of the Council and to complement its overall theme, “How to Expand the Mission.” SVS Press will feature the new title in a special section of its display, along with Archbishop Dmitri’s other six publications through SVS Press.
“Archbishop Dmitri’s newest title concludes the Archbishop’s scriptural series, which has been popular for decades among pastors and parish Bible study groups,” noted Michael Soroka, Production Manager and Associate Editor at SVS Press. “This book attests to the author’s unflagging zeal in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Americas, and especially to those unfamiliar with either the Christian message or the Orthodox Church.
“We thought it appropriate to have this title ready for the AAC, not only to honor the memory of this prolific author and evangelizer, but also to offer a book that can ‘replenish the faith of Christians today,’ as William J. Abraham, professor at Perkins School of Theology and personal acquaintance of Archbishop Dmitri, writes in the Foreword,” Mr. Soroka concluded.
SVS Press planned the release of seven other new titles during the spring semester and summer of 2015, some of which already have made literary and scholarly news. In April, Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence was welcomed to launch at the “Arvo Pärt: Journeys in Silence” Live Ideas Festival, sponsored by New York Live Arts.
In May a major international doctoral and post-doctoral religion conference in Prague, “Ecumenical Reception and Critique of 20th Century Orthodox Theology in Exile and Diaspora,” featured the title The Ways of Orthodox Theology in the West. The book emerged from a larger overall project, “Symbolic Mediation of Wholeness in Western Orthodoxy,” which was financed by the Czech Republic and included prominent Protestant and Orthodox scholars who analyzed the interplay between Orthodox and Western Christians in the past century, including the Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Archpriest John Behr, who wrote the Foreword to the book.
“Besides attracting thousands of Orthodox Christian readers annually, our titles fall into some of the most unusual but grateful hands,” said Deacon Gregory Hatrak, Director of Marketing and Operations at SVS Press and Bookstore. “For example, last year, the Salvation Army in Australia called to place a large order for our Popular Patristics title On the Human Condition, by Saint Basil the Great, for a course they were offering!
“Our newest eight titles represent the breadth and depth SVS Press typifies,” Deacon Gregory emphasized, “and we are so pleased to offer Archbishop Dmitri’s final pastoral commentary in this year’s wide-ranging mix of publications. Memory Eternal to a great evangelist!”
St. Petersburg, Russia: Midwest diocesan priest participates in anniversary of canonization of St. John of Kronstadt
Priest James Dank, Rector of Saint John of Kronstadt Church, Lincoln, NE, was among numerous international guests who participated in celebrations marking the 25th Anniversary of the canonization of Saint John of Kronstadt in St. Petersburg, Russia during the week of June 10, 2015. Invitations had been extended to representatives of churches, monasteries, schools orphanages, charitable foundations and other Orthodox Christian organizations worldwide named in honor of the saint—some 450 guests from 22 nations.
The celebrations began at St. Petersburg’s Saint John of Rila Stavropeghial Convent, established in 1900 by Saint John, in which his relics are enshrined. His Eminence, Metropolitan Sergius of Barnaul and Altai presided at a Service of Thanksgiving, at which Father James and rectors of churches dedicated to Saint John from abroad concelebrated. Among other North Americans present at the celebration was His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Father James also was featured in a documentary film, “By the Name of John of Kronstadt,” which highlighted the work of clergy and founders of churches and organizations dedicated to Saint John in the USA, Pakistan, Chile, Iran, Indonesia, Germany and Russia.
Edmonton, AB, Canada: Rachmaninoff’s Vigil sung at St. Herman Church
In what was perhaps a “first” for Canada, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil Opus 37 was sung during the celebration of Vigil at Saint Herman of Alaska Sobor on Saturday, June 6, 2015.
A local Edmonton group, Kappella Kyrie Slavic Chamber Choir, chose to sing this popular monumental work in honor of the choir’s fifth anniversary of organization and the centennial year of Rachmaninoff’s composition and premiere.
“Kappella Kyrie sang the parts of the Vigil service composed by Rachmaninoff, while Saint Herman’s Choir sang the propers for the Sunday after Pentecost, dedicated to All Saints,” said Priest Vincent Lehr, the parish’s Rector, who celebrated the Vigil. “The collaboration of both choirs in a solemn service for over two hours provided the 250 parishioners and guests who filled St. Herman’s church with a unique choral and spiritual experience.”
Concelebrating were Protodeacon Jesse Isaac and Deacon Sebastian Scratch, along with other OCA clergy and priests from Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. The conductor of Kappella Kyrie Choir was Dr. Melanie Turgeon, while Saint Herman’s Choir was led by Mr. Greg Fedor.
Following the Vigil, parishioners hosted a luncheon in the parish hall in honor of the visiting and local choirs, parishioners, attending clergy and the many guests from the Edmonton community who were present for the historic service.
Ames, Iowa: Mission parish begins its mission to college students
Holy Transfiguration Mission, 621 Kellogg Ave., Ames, IA will host an open house for incoming Iowa State University students from 4:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 18 and 19, 2015—resident hall “move-in days.”
Priest Marty Watts and parishioners will be on hand to meet new students and their parents and to introduce them to the mission community’s plans for the coming school year.
“With an enrollment of over 35,000, Iowa State University of Science and Technology serves students from all 50 states, many Canadian provinces, and a variety of other foreign countries,” said Father Marty. “We’re hoping to reach every Orthodox Christian student and invite them to make our spiritual home their own during their college years. It is my hope that perhaps next year, every parish in a college town will host such an event, and that OCF will create a national registry of such events to distribute more widely, perhaps as part of its “First 40 Days” program. [See related story.]
Those who know of students in the Ames area are invited to submit their names to Father Marty at email@example.com.
Participants in the 18th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to convene July 20-24, 2015 in Atlanta, GA, are reminded that the registration deadline Is Friday, July 10.
“Registration must be completed by that date to ensure a place at the Council,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “Registrations that arrive after that date will require special approval by the Preconciliar Commission and the registrants’ diocesan bishops.”
The on-line registration procedure may be completed here.
In related news, the Atlanta Convention Bureau has created two special web sites through which AAC participants will find special discounts at Atlanta-area attractions and venues.
The “City Pass,” valid for discounts at the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, CNN Tours, Zoo Atlanta, the Civil Rights Museum, and a host of other venues, is available here.
The “Savings in the City Card,” customized for AAC participants and good for discounts at numerous attractions, restaurants and stores in the Atlanta area, also is available here.
Saint Kyriaki was the daughter of Christian parents, Dorotheus and Eusebia. She was given her name because she was born on Sunday, the day of the Lord (in Greek, Kyriaki). She contested in Nicomedia during the reign of Diocletian, in the year 300. After many bitter torments she was condemned to suffer beheading, but being granted time to pray first, she made her prayer and gave up her holy soul in peace.
Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
In 451, during the reign of the Sovereigns Marcian and Pulcheria, the Fourth Ecumenical Council was convoked in Chalcedon against Eutyches and those of like mind with him. After much debate, the Fathers who were the defenders of Orthodoxy, being 630 in number, agreed among themselves and with those who were of contrary mind, to write their respective definitions of faith in separate books, and to ask God to confirm the truth in this matter. When they had prepared these texts, they placed the two tomes in the case that held Saint Euphemia's relics, sealed it, and departed. After three days of night-long supplications, they opened the reliquary in the presence of the Emperor, and found the tome of the heretics under the feet of the Martyr, and that of the Orthodox in her right hand. (For her life, see Sept. 16.)Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
Saint Olga, renowned for her wisdom and sobriety, in her youth became the wife of Igor, Great Prince of Kiev, who ruled during the tenth century. After her husband's death, she herself ruled capably, and was finally moved to accept the Faith of Christ. She traveled to Constantinople to receive Holy Baptism. The Emperor, seeing her outward beauty and inward greatness, asked her to marry him. She said she could not do this before she was baptized; she furthermore asked him to be her Godfather at the font, which he agreed to do. After she was baptized (receiving the name of Helen), the Emperor repeated his proposal of marriage. She answered that now he was her father, through holy Baptism, and that not even among the heathen was it heard of a man marrying his daughter. Gracefully accepting to be outwitted by her, he sent her back to her land with priests and sacred texts and holy icons. Although her son Svyatoslav remained a pagan, she planted the seed of faith in her grandson Vladimir (see July 15). She reposed in peace in 969.
Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
In Orthodox Christian countries, individuals traditionally celebrate their nameday instead of their birthday. Since Orthodox Christians are usually named after a saint or feast day of the Church, all those having the same name celebrate together on that saint's feast or the particular feast of the Church.All those named after Veronica, the woman with the issue of blood who was healed by Jesus celebrate their nameday on July 12. (show less)
Grandson of Saint Olga, Saint Vladimir ascended the throne of Kiev in 980. Though a zealous idolater, he was illumined by the grace of God, accepted the Christian Faith, and completely changed his ways. He was baptized in Cherson in 988, receiving the name Basil; he came forth from the font not only healed of a blindness lately afflicting him, but also from being passionate and warlike, he became meek, peaceable, and exceedingly godly. Whereas his grandmother had refused marriage with the Emperor in Constantinople (see July 11), he married Anna, sister of the Emperors Basil and Constantine, and was accompanied home by priests from Constantinople. Diligently seeking to spread Christianity throughout his realm like a new Constantine, he destroyed the idols (having the chief diety Perun scourged and then cast into the Dnieper River), and summoned all his subjects to Holy Baptism. He reposed in peace in 1015.
Reading copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved. (show less)
Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church