In a town of some 16,000 people of whom only 1/2 of 1% claim to be Orthodox, we have three separate churches all within one mile of each other. Two of the churches are less than 1/4 mile apart. Good thing alot of our parishioners come from the surrounding towns.
Over 10 years ago, the parish councils of the three churches got together to begin discussion of possibly one day unifying into one strong Orthodox presence in the community. This discussion led to our churches getting together for name days to start.
On Sunday, two of the three Orthodox churches in town got together again to celebrate the feast day of the host church, St. Nicholas Church. Our parish of St. Michael, and St. Nicholas have been getting together to celebrate each others name day for many years now. Over the past four years we have also been getting together for Presanctified Liturgy during Great Lent, as well as for the days of our annual picnics.
These get togethers over the years have been good for the people of both churches. In the beginning after a presanctified we would have a pot luck dinner, and each week the host church would try to out do the other from the week before. A little foolish, but for those of us in attendance well worth it, food was great. Now when we get together it is for a dinner with friends and family, and food is still great.
During his sermon yesterday, Fr. John surprised many of us from St. Michael when he said it is about time that the two churches begin to seriously talk about unifying, not to save money, but to build one strong church for our grand children and great grand children.
St. Nicholas and St. Michael will be having meetings with their parishioners to find out their thoughts, points for and against as well as fears. Some time in February the two parish councils will meet to discuss our common vision for Orthodoxy in the greater community in the years to come.
Holding to the spirit of the founders of our respective churches, those men and women, who came over to a new land and because of their love for God gave of their time, talent, and money to leave for us not only a place to worship but more importantly the Orthodox Faith. We owe it to them to do the same for the coming generations.
Since my wife Laura, and I converted to Orthodoxy over 22 years ago it has been our dream and goal to have one Orthodox Church in the area that draws all Orthodox Christian regardless of ethnicity. We are after all "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church".
God knows the path ahead will be full of many questions, and like a child we want the answer yesterday. If we just let go and let God, all will work out according to His will.
It was a great day and the beginning of many more.
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