EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Fr. Seraphim Bell, USA & Scotland:
“I became Orthodox for one reason: Obedience to the Truth”
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Fr. Seraphim Bell, USA & Scotland:
“I became Orthodox for one reason: Obedience to the Truth”
GREAT BRITAIN OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
Fr. Meletios Webber
ENGLAND, USA, THE NETHERLANDS
Through Oxford To Orthodoxy
From Protestantism to Orthodoxy
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
Archimandrite Meletios Webber, of Scottish background, was born in London, and received his Masters degree in Theology from Oxford University, England and the Thessalonica School of Theology, Greece. He also holds an E.D.D. (doctorate) in Psychotherapy from the University of Montana, Missoula. He is the author of two published books: Steps of Transformation; an Orthodox Priest Explores the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (Conciliar Press, 2003); and Bread and Water, Wine and Oil; an Orthodox Christian Experience of God (Conciliar Press, 2007).
This interview was originally published in Pravoslavnie.ru.
Fr. Meletios, could you tell us a little about your journey to Orthodoxy in Oxford, and how you became a priest?
I went to Oxford as a theology student in 1968, and very quickly found an Orthodox Church there. The parish priest at the time was Fr. Kallistos Ware, who is now Metropolitan of Diokleia, and the deacon at the time was Fr. Basil Osborne, who is now Bishop of Amphipolis. The parish in Oxford was both a Russian and a Greek one, coexisting in a small room in what had once been the house of the famous Dr. Spooner. I was immediately attracted to the quality of the stillness that I found in that small room. That has been something that I have consistently valued in the Orthodox Church ever since. It is a quality which is difficult to talk about, but it happens when one goes into a Continue reading “Fr. Meletios Weber, England: Through Oxford to Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* England, USA & the Netherlands”
π. Σεραφείμ Μπελλ, Σκωτία & ΗΠΑ (πρώην Προτεστάντης):
Έγινα Ορθόδοξος από υπακοή στην Αλήθεια
ALASKA OF MY HEART
USA OF MY HEART
New State Museum Named for Orthodox Priest Opens in Juneau, Alaska, USA
by James Brooks
The writer evidently ‘forgot’ to mention that Andrew Kashevaroff was an Alaskan Orthodox priest, or that the current bishop of Alaska, Bishop David of Sitka and All Alaska, gave the invocation. May Fr. Andrew’s memory be eternal!
After 12 years and about $140 million in development, Alaska has a new state museum.
The Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives and Museum, affectionately known as the SLAM, officially opened after an hourlong ceremony featuring speeches from state dignitaries and song and dance from the Harborview Elementary School Tlingit Culture and Language Literacy Program. Hundreds of people filled the plaza outside the new building, standing under a cloud-dappled sky that occasionally dropped rain showers. The clouds parted just as Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, rose to speak.
“This is a moment that will be marked in Alaska’s history by what is happening today,” Gov. Bill Walker told the crowd. “This building is absolutely phenomenal by what it represents.”
What it represents is a long-term commitment. Bob Banghart, deputy director of the state division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, has repeatedly said the new building — which combines the services of the capital’s museum, archives and library into one structure — can last 100 years.
The previous museum, built on the same location in time for the 1967 Alaska Centennial, lasted just shy of 50 years. It was torn down in 2014 as construction of the new building progressed.
“This building ate it,” Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said of the old museum, “and it has digested it well.”
At 118,000 square feet, the SLAM is seven times as large as the old museum, and it was intended to have space for 50 years’ worth of new collections. The closure of the National Archives office in Anchorage took up some of that room with transferred items, but there’s plenty of room to grow.
The building is one of the last significant state projects to be funded with money collected and allocated in the 2008 oil boom.
“One thing I’ll say about this building: Timing is everything, and it was really good timing by somebody’s part. We can afford to cut the ribbon,” Walker said.
Many lawmakers were in attendance at the ceremony, and Mallott alluded to their presence and the state’s current fiscal situation.
He said the building
“celebrates what, if we make the right choices about our future in coming days, we can celebrate both collectively, symbolically and really when we say, Alaska can build the most beautiful edifices.”
Museum conservator Ellen Carrlee was in the audience, listening to the speeches given by the governor, lieutenant governor and eight others.
In her hands, she held a framed picture of the decorative panels that adorned the old museum. It was given to her by a friend on the new museum’s opening day to commemorate the years of work involved in the new building’s construction and outfitting.
“It’s a huge relief to finally be here,” she said. “It’s like studying for a big exam: You study and you study — you could always study a little more — but to have it be here is tremendous. It’s not all the way done, but we couldn’t keep people out any longer. People want in, they want to see it.”
When the Harborview students finished their dancing and cut the celebratory ribbon, a crowd surged through the museum’s front entrance and into the gallery.
In front of one case, Juneau resident and temporary museum employee Tanna Peters explained the artifact mounts she’s been working on for the past year and a half. Curators from across the state were brought to the museum two years ago to help move artifacts into storage and to draft plans for the displays that now make up the museum’s permanent gallery.
To a regular visitor, the gallery looks complete. To a curator’s eye, however, there’s still things to do. Peters pointed out one display, where two artifacts were slightly touching — a no-no where preservation is involved. Pull-out drawers in some display cases are still empty, and the vendors in charge of the museum bookstore and cafe have not yet moved in.
Banghart said, however, that for all intents and purposes, the museum is complete. There might be a few little things to fine-tune, but it’s nothing that will keep the public from enjoying it.
David Shumway and Ken Ratcliffe, standing in the permanent gallery, couldn’t help but agree. For the past several years, Shumway has worked as the project’s mechanical engineer. Ratcliffe was its electrical engineer.
“This is a one-in-a-lifetime project for us,” Ratcliffe said.
To understand why, you have to look inside the museum’s walls, at things a normal visitor will never see. Museums and archives demand precision care, even with something you might take for granted — like the way the air moves in the building.
“There’s five separate and distinct environments in one building that are almost unnoticeable except for the Archives; they’re at 55 degrees,” Shumway said.
To understand, Shumway offered a suggestion: stand in the lobby for a few minutes and feel the temperature and humidity. Next, walk into the gallery and do the same. It’s much more humid, and it’s designed that way to protect the artifacts.
The lighting operates under the same principle — bright and inviting in the lobby and open spaces, but dimmer in the display cases to protect light-sensitive objects.
Shumway said fine-tuning each element of the building will take a little while longer. Plans are one thing, but actually having people in the building is something else.
To 5-year-old Eddy Seifert, however, the only thing filling his eyes was the mining locomotive in one corner of the gallery, with a section of the trans-Alaska Pipeline System towering overhead.
“This is my favorite thing, because it’s new,” he said with arms outstretched, indicating the entire building.
His mother, Shannon, laughed.
“We just walked through the doors,” she said. “I’m amazed how huge this is. I can’t wait to explore all the little nooks and crannies.”
The state museum is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The state library and archives are open during working hours on weekdays.
Admission is $12, $11 for seniors and children are admitted free during the summer. A season pass is $25, according to a rate increase approved last year.
USA OF MY HEART
Called To Orthodoxy
A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith
Sherie Mercier, Michigan, USA
Where do I begin? I was born and raised in St. Joseph, Michigan, on the shores of SW Lake Michigan – across the lake from Chicago, 61 years ago. My parents were not very religious, in fact, they attended a Methodist church in my hometown. The pastor was a medical doctor and eventually left the active ministry and set up shop as a General Family practitioner. My parents stopped attending church and after that I never remember them ever stepping into a church at all, even to this day. My mother is deceased but my father is still alive and I have never seen him enter a church.
So, eventually, around the age of 7 or so, I went to a Baptist church with my neighbors and continued to do so until my teenage years. I then set out to check different denominations, usually joining them, then leaving because something didn’t “feel right”. Of course, our home town had a huge Roman Catholic following, plus my maternal grandmother had been Roman Catholic herself.
I remember seeing statues of Mary and crucifixes. Our public school in that day followed the Roman Catholic system of meatless Fridays, usually fish sticks or mac and cheese. So, I became interested in the Roman Catholic faith. But it was not to be at all until years later.
I graduated high school, enlisted in the US Army, did a short stint and then married my first husband in Scotland. We settled back in Michigan but only for the summer of 1974, then moved to Arizona. I again, searched and wanted to be Roman Catholic, but my husband was adamant against it. So, I chose the next best thing, the Episcopal church, back then it wasn’t as liberal as it is now. It was the Liturgy that always attracted me to these types of churches. Protestant churches lack any “real” liturgy, rather their services are typified by an opening song(s), prayer, more songs, another prayer, offering and finally – “drum roll please” – the sermon, the main stay.
Of course, we are to learn and be taught but these churches continue to make the “sermon” the most important part of the service each Sunday. Yet, to keep the peace, I did exactly that, attending one Protestant church after another. I was lacking though on the inside, my heart longed for the proper worship to be given to God. Another caveat to all of this is that I am a musician, I play multiple instruments and sing, so churches would ask me to help lead music on Sundays.
After jumping from church to church, I would sneak occasionally during the week to the local Roman Catholic parish near where we lived. My husband was at work and didn’t know. I longed to be Roman Catholic and felt one day this would happen.
In 1983, after the birth of my youngest child, I was attending an Assembly of God church in Phoenix. I loved the people there and the worship was good. One Sunday, the regular pianist was not in attendance and I knew the piece the choir was going to “perform”, so I stepped in and led at the piano. The church eventually asked me to do the music regularly. Then one Sunday, I was supposed to do a special number for the evening service but was pulled aside by the music director and told in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t graduate from the AG college in Springfield, Missouri, I couldn’t even sing on a Sunday evening. My feelings were greatly hurt and I said that’s it. I left that church, then started sneaking to Mass on Sunday mornings behind my husband’s back for a while. Then one day I found a position working at a Bible Christian church, playing the piano again. I loved this church also and the people but disappointment struck in that the pastor left his wife and 3 children for another woman.
That did it!! I called a parish that was on my way to work (by this time, I was working full time) and spoke to the associate priest there. We met once a week for 5 months and at Easter in 1986, I was received into the Roman Catholic church. Again, because of musical background, I was soon cantoring at the parish weekly. I loved the liturgy and asked to help different parishes in the diocese. At one point, I was asked to assist with a Byzantine Uniate parish. This was it! The beauty of the Divine Liturgy had captured me. It was totally different than what I was seeing in the Western Rite. But things did not let me stay there as I ended up with other obligations at other parishes in the diocese.
In 1989, after 15 years of marriage, my ex-husband left the country and moved back to Scotland with our 2 sons and I was left to raise my 3 girls. I remained a Roman Catholic and continued to work in several parishes over the years. Then in 1997, while my husband, Mark (a cradle Catholic) and I were at a parish, I made an abrupt decision after something a priest had said. I left the RC church for the next 9 years. I began studying and eventually became a licensed Pentecostal Church of God out of Joplin, Missouri minister. I left that denomination as the rules were too stringent and it cost too much money. Besides your regular tithes and offerings to the church, you also had to “pay” for your credentials, which became costly. I applied for independent credentials from a non-denominational ministry and became a pastor for a small local congregation. After a few years, I was called back to the Roman Catholic church, but not for long. Yet, it was when I was called back to the RC church, I began to truly study the early Church Fathers, the Eucharist and other “Catholic” teachings.
I would discover the “Independent Old Catholic Movement” in 2008. The beauty of Roman Catholicism without having to answer to Rome. In fact, one of the things that drew me to this movement was that a lot of them ordained women. I always had felt a calling on my life and thought I had fulfilled it in being a Pentecostal/non-denominational minister. In 2009, I joined a group called, O.SS.T. – the Order of the most Holy Mother Theotokos. I had never really heard Mary addressed as the Theotokos except in the council of Ephesus when this was declared. Eventually the archbishop of the group asked me to take seminary studies and in August of 2011, I was ordained a deacon and on June 1, 2012, ordained a priest.
In my studies, I had to write a paper on the differences and similarities between the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Old Catholic Churches. Our liturgies did not follow the RC but rather were a mixture of all 4 of the above. When I was ordained, someone gave me a beautiful icon of the Theotokos, which I still have. I also had purchased a couple of icons and a pocket icon of Christ the Pantocrator and Our Lady of Kazan. I still have those also after all these years. One of the people who helped concelebrate my ordination gave me a book on the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, New Martyr of the Communist Yoke. I read the book and then put it aside for a long time.
Over the next several years, I served on and off as a supply priest, tried to have a local parish to work at but with no success. In hindsight, I know I should have never been a priest and that is probably why I failed to fulfill my calling. At one point, I was working as supply priest for an Episcopal congregation in Northern Arizona but then the proverbial “rug” was pulled out from underneath me. I know why, I wasn’t “liberal” enough for them and that’s all good and well. I made some very nice friends there and stay in touch with them.
Fast forward to July 2016 and I am at a crossroad. I was doing some cleaning and came across the book I mentioned above regarding St. Elizabeth the New Martyr. I was led to read it and I had “liked” several Facebook pages on the Orthodox faith and teachings. One I tuned into was from St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Geneva, New York and a man named Steve Tobey. He does a daily video called, “The Gospel Minute” and I was hooked. I had looked up several Orthodox parishes and one was in Prescott – St. George’s – but I could not get a response.
I need to digress here for a moment, due to some medical issues, I lost my foot and ankle back in 2011 and wear a prosthesis. The problem is that they tear up your pants and skirts terribly. So, I was looking to see if it would be okay if I attended Great Vespers or Divine Liturgy in slacks – I always wear black and dress very modestly.
I kept trying St. George’s to no avail and then in August, someone gave me the email address to Fr. Thomas Frisby from Exaltation of the Holy Cross parish in Phoenix, Arizona. I contacted him and then we set up a dinner with him and his wife, Laurel with my husband and me. We did so and I gave Father Thomas some background of above and asked plenty of questions. Due to my schedule at the time, it was several more weeks before I began to attend Divine Liturgy. My first service was on Sunday, September 25, 2016 and all I can say was, “This is where God wants me to be for the rest of my life.” At the end of coffee hour and a wonderful book study, “On the Incarnation” by St. Athanasius, I asked Fr. Thomas if I could become a catechumen. He did not hesitate and so I did the following Sunday before Divine Liturgy. BTW, my birthday is the feast day of St. Athanasius (May 2).
I also told all my friends via Facebook that this was what I was doing. Some were shocked, I told them if they wanted to, they could unfriend me. I had a lot of Protestant friends at the time and wasn’t sure how they would react. Some have stayed my friend, some haven’t.
Finally, in November, Fr. Thomas said I would be received into the Church on the forefeast of the Theophany, January 5, 2017. My husband Mark came with me and I can’t say how moved I was to be brought into the Orthodox faith. I wrote of my experience in four blogs that were published to Facebook also. Even though my husband for now has no desire to convert, he supports me in being Orthodox and he does attend Divine Liturgy with me on occasion. My parish family is very welcoming to him as well as they were to and still are to me.
A side note – as a veteran, I currently belong to the American Legion, a veteran’s service organization. I was considered for Department Commander for the 2017-2018 year. I was handed a month ago, the schedule I would have to adhere to for that year. What I discovered was that I would be gone too many Sundays, away from Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist. This was an easy choice as there was no way I would miss intentionally almost 1/3 of the year to be the commander. I posted on Facebook as well as an email went out to all the posts in the Department (over 130) and the reason why I would not be running. The overwhelming responses (all positive) that I was taking a stand for my Faith proves to me that this is where God wanted me to be.
It also has been a witnessing tool to the Orthodox Faith and people are now asking me about what we believe and there is even interest in some of them coming to my parish.
For those of you women who think that you have a calling on your life to be a minister, priest, or other clergy, it isn’t necessary. I wish I would have found the Orthodox Faith – the TRUE faith – years ago. I probably would have never been a minister or priest. Do I miss what I did? No! I am fulfilled as a woman in the Orthodox faith. We have a place in the Church that is rich and Christ truly loves each of us.
I am writing this just days before the start of Great Lent and praying that I will continue to draw closer to Jesus Christ in the time. My journey is continuing and I thank God for the Orthodox Church and for my parish, Exaltation of the Holy Cross as well as Fr. Thomas and Laurel Frisby.
CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY
by Fr. Barnabas Powell, Cumming, Georgia, USA
Fr. Barnabas Powell is the priest at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia, USA
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
The Pentecostal church I grew up in had a profound impact on my life. The lively services, the thundering sermons, and the emotional altar calls gripped my young heart and fed my hunger for an intimate encounter with God.
As a young man growing up in a Pentecostal church, I always knew I wanted to be a preacher because all the powerful men I had ever known had been men in the pulpit, and I wanted to be just like them.
In my Pentecostal church I was told that a stream is purest at its source, so what we had to do was to be like the Church in the Book of Acts. If we were going to affect our world for Jesus then we needed the same power the Early Church had, and that meant being Pentecostal.
The whole purpose for our emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, lively, emotional worship services, and powerful, motivating, sermons, was to keep us motivated to win Continue reading “Fr. Barnabas Powell, Georgia, USA: Finally Oriented – From Protestantism to Orthodoxy”