Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Western Rite Mission in Maryland: St. John the Baptist

We told you years ago that more Charismatic Episcopal Churches stood ready to join the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church. Since then, many have followed. The Antiochian Archdiocese has announced that, it's official: within two months of the last group of former CEC becoming Western Rite Orthodox catechumens, another church has joined the fold:

St. John the Baptist Mission began as a small mission in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (called Lamb of God Church) on Christmas Eve, 2005 under the pastoral leadership of Fr. James K. Hamrick, a CEC priest and a former United Methodist pastor. The congregation, made up mostly of former Methodists, found a historic chapel for lease in Lewistown, Maryland, just north of Frederick, Maryland, an hour west of Baltimore and an hour northwest of D.C. The chapel, originally built in 1833 as a Methodist Church, has been home for the congregation since.

In August 2006, Fr. James met Fr. Gregory McGregor, an Orthodox priest in southeastern Virginia, which prompted Fr. James to begin examining the claims of Orthodoxy. Two years later, in the summer of 2008, the congregation's bishop retired, causing the people to search in earnest for where God was leading them next. Fr. James and the people of Lamb of God Church examined a number of continuing Anglican groups, but only with limited enthusiasm. Finally, at a clericus gathering in Towson, Maryland on September 17, 2008, Fr. James heard a compelling presentation given by Fr. Patrick Cardine and Fr. Alban Waggoner on the Orthodox Church. Father James presented the congregation with this invitation to consider the Orthodox Church, and in short order the people began to discern that the Holy Orthodox Church was where God was indeed directing them. At the request of Fr. James, Bishop THOMAS visited the congregation in October 2008 in order to answer questions and to encourage the people as they discerned their call. With strong consensus among the people, Lamb of God Church officially became a catechumenate mission of the Orthodox Church on November 30, 2008, with Fr. Patrick Cardine and Fr. Nicholas Alford as the assigned catechists.

In coming into Holy Orthodoxy, the people requested a new name for their mission to represent a whole new beginning, but since St. John the Baptist had been their patron saint, they requested to bear his name. Metropolitan PHILIP agreed and the new mission became St. John the Baptist. God willing, on April 11th (Lazarus Saturday), nearly 30 people will be chrismated by Fr. Nicholas Alford at St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, DC. (See Update Below!) Saint John the Baptist will become a Western Rite mission, and until Fr. James is ordained a priest in the Orthodox Church, Fr. Peter Jacobsen, a retired Western Rite priest from New York, will be serving the mission

What an inspiring story of faith, with a search for truth lasting many years finally about to be realized.

The season of Lent traditionally has been a time of completing the catechumenate. Lenten fasting had its historic origins in the faithful fasting in solidarity with those about to be illumined, born again, through the Sacrament/Mystery of Baptism. As we are all praying and fasting together, please, as the Byzantine services of this time ask, "Let us the faithful pray for the catechumens." God bless them all, richly rewarding their faithfulness with His mercy.

Update: A reader e-mails that Fr. Nicholas Alford just alerted them of a new location for the chrismation service, to allow more people to attend:

With Metropolitan PHILIP's blessing we are moving the service of Chrismation for the people of St. John the Baptist Mission to Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, 10620 River Rd, Potomac, MD. The service will be on Friday evening, April 10, beginning with Vespers at 7PM. . . . The Chrismations will follow Vespers and then the Liturgy for the feast of St. Leo will be celebrated.

Thank you. Whatever the proximate location, God will unite all of you to His Mystical Body, the Church. God bless you!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Well, it's Not Quite the "Holy Hand Grenade," But....

Pastor, Parishoner Arrested for Shooting an Arrow in Church. I guess the pastor of Pentecostals of Sheboygan County (Wisconsin) thought this would be a neat illustration of some sort.

Maybe he was preaching on St. Matthew 18:9?