Visit of Metropolitan Demetrius to St. James, Owasso, Oklahoma
On the Great Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius visited our Holy Apostle James community in Owasso, OK. His Eminence was accompanied and assisted by Archimandrite Agathangelus, Chancellor of the Metropolis.
When he arrived, His Eminence was greeted with bread and salt (naturally blue salt from Persia - in honor of the Theotokos), a Russian tradition.
Upon his first entrance into the Chapel, His Eminence gave to the parish a great gift of relics of several saints, and also delivered updated Antimensia signed by him. Vigil (Vespers, Matins and 1st Hour) was served that evening.
Sunday, before Liturgy, at the 6th Hour, His Eminence ordained the Reader Peter Gilstrap to the rank of Subdeacon. After Liturgy the metropolitan warmly congratulated Subdeacon Peter, and also greeted the rector, Priest Mark, on the 20th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The choir was also praised for its service. The beautiful Serbian troparion for the feast, which has been our tradition for more than 30 years, was recognized and noted by His Eminence. It is the same special melody as for Christ's Nativity, which the Feast of the Entry anticipates.
The importance of a cohesive community is so great that it was decided decades ago that a community meal would always be served after every Liturgy. During the festal meal prepared by the sisterhood, His Eminence repeated the importance of the unity of the true Church, which is demonstrated and proclaimed whenever we commemorate him as our bishop. A joyous, good, and pleasant gathering of brethren dwelling together in unity was indeed experienced by all those present.
Both Saturday and Sunday His Eminence found time to answer a variety of questions from the community. In the spirit of an archpastoral visit, he also heard answers from us on a variety of his questions, including what it might cost to acquire property for a proper church.
Saint James currently meets in the priest’s rural hilltop chapel dedicated to the Holy Transfiguration. It is a 400 sq ft out-building with nearby parking on a large cul-de-sac. An additional 100 sq ft is under construction. God-willing, an affordable building in the city will allow us to be more visible to a spiritually hungry world.
Saint James owes much to our predecessors. Our Altar furniture comes from the first Orthodox Christian Mission to the Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma, formerly located in Tahlequah, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation. Our exterior Cross was originally erected in 1959 on the Russian Holy Trinity Chapel in Bloomington, Indiana. These and other physical artifacts remind us of the heritage and mindset (phronema) we received from our forebears in the Faith who were immigrant missionaries that unknowingly taught volumes through the example of their pious lives.
Saint James is the only traditionalist Orthodox church with resident clergy within a very wide radius. As such, members embracing true worship come from as far away as Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and even Illinois. Some of these far-flung parish families are making and executing plans to relocate to the Tulsa area. This will, God-willing, help provide the requisite membership for community support, and greater public outreach.
If you have not found a permanent church home, we invite you to come and visit Holy Apostle James’ with its nearly 40-year heritage and repository of English language Orthodox services. Strengthened by this archpastoral visit, and with God’s blessing, we will increase our efforts to “make God’s Service” in the midst of our city, to honor the Mother of God and all the saints, and to fulfill the commandments of love for God and Neighbor.
May the Holy Apostle James, the Brother of our Lord and first bishop of Jerusalem, who in those days led all in the true worship of God by serving the Christian Liturgy, bless our archpastor, His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius, for his benevolence and labors in attending to our “small flock” and celebrating the Divine Liturgy.
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