The Eternal Beacon of Faith.
One more parish in the church abroad.
Recently we received an invitation to a partial consecration of yet another church, dedicated in this instance to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. My wife and I decided we must attend such an important celebration of our Church Abroad.
It reminded me how Russian immigrants in the 1920's and 1930's began building churches throughout the entire diaspora with funds provided by the faithful. No matter how the conspirators from Moscow tried to hamper these efforts and "extinguish the icon-lamps" of the true Church, the churches continued to be built.
In 2007, the Russian intelligence agencies were able to convince a part of the clergy of the Church Abroad to join the Moscow Patriarchia. A considerable part remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the legacy of its First Hierarchs, Metropolitans Anthony, Anastassy, St. Philaret and Vitaly. In our Church, led by Metropolitan Agafangel and 12 bishops, with around 135 priests and 120 parishes scattered throughout the whole world and Russia, the number of such "inextinguishable icon-lamps" is ever greater and greater. So now we are invited to yet another festive consecration of a new church, a new "inextinguishable icon-lamp."
As you pass through the center of the village of Middleburgh in New York State, a very beautiful, hilly landscape opens before you. From far away you can see on one of the hills the golden cupola of our Orthodox Church with a beautiful, historic Orthodox Vladimir cross. The cupola was designed by the architect S. Nikitin. The cupola was erected under the technical supervision of Oleg Mikhaylovich Rodzianko. A graceful two-story building with 35 rooms abuts the church, surrounded by many acres of land, and contains the Russian Orthodox Religious and Cultural Center, only three hours away from New York City.
Here, on the evening of Saturday, November 24, 2012, with a large number of faithful in attendance, Archbishop Andronik (Kotlaroff) and Rev. Victor Dobroff performed the partial consecration followed by vespers. The choir under the able leadership of choir director Mark Kotlaroff sang wonderfully and embellished the service, creating a special prayerful feeling.
As you enter the church, you sense the cozy layout of the large church. This church is larger than the one in the Jordanville monastery. It also has excellent acoustics and the voices of the priests are easily heard by everyone standing in the church. Your eyes are drawn to the elegant wooden iconostasis which was carved by hand. A master carpenter with many years of experience worked on it for an entire year. Most of the main icons on the iconostasis were painted in the Rublev style by iconographers from Russia. The beauty of the church's interior is quite extraordinary.
On the next day, Sunday, November 25, 2012, at 10 AM, Divine Liturgy was served in the newly-consecrated church by Archbishop Andronik, along with Archpriest Nikita Grigoriev, Rev. Victor Dobroff and Rev. Anthony Gunin. Many families with children were in attendance and it was joyous to have so many younger people present.
After the liturgy, Archbishop Andronik invited everyone to join in the luncheon. It is worthy to note that we Russians who live in foreign lands far from our homeland and who have preserved our faith for decades, do not forget out history, traditions and especially our Russian cuisine. A Lenten soup with mushrooms was served to the monastics and clergy during the luncheon along with a tasty fish and piroshky (patties) with cabbage and mushrooms. Everyone else was served a soup, turkey, piroshky with meat and mushrooms, syrniky (fried cheese pancakes) and tasty tender potatoes. All the food was prepared by the sisterhood of the church.What a pleasant surprise it was when the directors of the Center announced that the Mayor of the village of Middleburgh, Mr. Matthew Avitabile, who is Greek Orthodox, had sent an official letter of congratulations on the occasion of the consecration of the church and had promised to help our Church in its missionary work and in its various events.
The director of the Center, Yuriy Georgiyevich Lukin, spoke at the luncheon and expressed his profound gratitude to all the volunteers who devoted many hours and hard work in the renovation and construction of the church and the Center's building. Mr. Lukin also thanked deeply all the craftsmen; the architects, carpenters, electricians and other specialists who had devoted and continue to devote many hours on improvements in the entire complex.
The administration of the Russian Orthodox Religious and Cultural Center has announced that the full consecration of the church and Center is scheduled for July 20-21, 2013. After the services, the church and the building will be open to visitors from near and far. A Russian festival with a concert of Russian music is planned on those dates.