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 The 14th Sunday after Pentecost - The After-Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God - The Holy Prophet Samuel

September 2nd, 2018

The Glorious Dormition of the Mother of God shows us the way to live this life and to give it up.  We should live out God’s great gift of our life to us, always grateful for all the creation that is shown to us and is made known to us, and for which we have a glorious responsibility.  We should so live our lives that at the end we can look to our Creator and Savior with heartfelt hope for eternal life with Him.  The most blessed lady Theotokos is our perfect example in saying, “O… God, receive my spirit.”  Each night as we finish our prayers with a commendation of our spirit to God, think of His most pure Mother in her perfect offering of herself.  As she was the perfect Mother of the incarnate God, so she is the perfect Mother of all of us who are in His Body, the Holy Church.  Let us say and do and think only what would please our Mother.

Father George and Matushka Deborah are on Vacation from Tuesday, September 4th, through Tuesday, September 18th.  Please call Father Christopher for a pastoral need during these two weeks.  Also, TAKE NOTE!  Since there is only one priest for these two weekends, there will be a hard stop to Sunday morning confessions at 9:45!  Please be considerate of all in planning your arrival for confession; or, even better, use the traditional confession time of the previous Saturday evening’s vigil and at the same time learn the teaching of the Church.

Sunday School is Coming! - Today, those involved with Sunday School will briefly meet to present and finalize the Sunday School  schedule.  Known right now is that Sunday School will begin Sunday, September 23rd.

Prayers to the Holy Apostles are being said from time to time on Wednesday evenings at 7 in the form of a Moleben and Akathist.  Please look at the schedule for the days.  This Akathist hymn to the Holy Apostles was written especially for our parish by the late and happily remembered Monk Joseph, known to us in life as Reader Isaac Lambertsen.  Isaac translated all of the variable service texts that we and all ROCOR parishes use.  Let’s join together to pray for spiritual edification and for the advancement of our parish building projects with Isaac’s blessed words.

Parish Work Days - So far this year, we have kept up the inside of the chapel and started improvements to the drainage on the east side of the chapel building.  We will soon have another to complete the drainage work and do other things for our work-in-kind requirements.  Let’s keep our eyes and ears open for opportunities to work together with our parish family on our beautiful place of future worship community life.

Our Fund Raising Effort - We are taking donations to enable us to start building the parish hall to be erected on our property with the St. Joseph’s Chapel.  Our total stands at $19,753.00, 40% of our goal of $50,000.  We move incrementally, but it is important that we move, even if we look more like the tortoise than the hare.  Everyone should make a contribution, no matter how small.  Just because you can’t give $10,000 does not mean you shouldn’t give $10.  God will reward the devotion we are capable of.  He will not reward indifference.  We have grown to the limit of our capacity here.  If we would keep growing, we need to move to the new parish hall on our God-given property.

From A Mother and Educator Among Us

“Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for us such is the kingdom of heaven.”

It is the job of all of us to help the children engage during liturgy, not just be entertained. It should be a community effort, so if you see a parent struggling, please think of a way you can ease their burden even a little bit.

Even the youngest are capable of engaging in Liturgy. By preschool age, children should be expected to start actively participating with the rest of us in the Liturgy. It's their gift and work too!  To help engage children, we have "church bags" in the back for our preschoolers. You are welcome to use them, but are not obligated to do so. Our goal should be to bring children gently into full participation in the Liturgy. The church bags contain a coloring booklet, a few crayons, and a packet of icons to enjoy. Please keep the church bags at church. For our elementary school students, we have liturgy books for them to borrow so they can follow along during the service. Please encourage your children to make use of them if you think they will be helpful!

A few reminders:

1) If your children need a break, you are welcome to step out, but please come back! Little noises from children during Liturgy are just as beautiful as the most beautiful choir, and can be a way of children worshipping God.

2) Once children are preschool age, they should be encouraged to participate as much as possible in the Liturgy. Please refrain from bringing toys and non-liturgy books for the preschool children. They can easily become entertainment rather than tools for engagement, and can also distract other children. If your children need something to occupy their hands for a while, please use the church bags, take a stroll to look at icons, or direct their attention to the wonderful sights and sounds of the Liturgy.

3) Our elementary school age children should be encouraged to participate fully in the Liturgy, as much as they are able. Children's voices joining in the singing are such a glorious thing to hear! Liturgy books can aid in this participation. We have some available to use, but feel free to bring your own as well. Please try to help the elementary children refrain from coloring, reading non-liturgy books, and other activities as much as possible during Liturgy, especially if it becomes a tool for entertainment or distraction that takes away from their participation in the Liturgy.

4) The benches should be reserved for those that need to sit for whatever reason during Liturgy, and should not be used as a coloring desk or climbing structure.

5) Please encourage children to stop all other entertainment as much as possible at and following the Creed. Coloring books should be put away if possible. The Eucharist is the "high point" of Liturgy, and every effort should be made to face the altar and participate in the Mystery of the Eucharist - which is so much more than just standing in line for communion!

Thank you so much for helping our children learn to love and enjoy Christ and His Church! We know all children are different, and what works for one may not work for another, so if you have any questions or concerns, please talk to Fr. George.  If there are materials in the church bags that need replenishing, or you have other ideas for engaging children in the church, please talk to Matushka Deborah or Matushka Mary!

Mariya’s Letter to Converts

Our treasurer, Mariya Petrenko, has written a most beautiful and profound letter, addressed to an Orthodox convert, from a cradle Orthodox Christian.  With Mariya's permission, we are sharing it with you, here below.

Dear convert to Orthodoxy,

Thank you! If no one has thanked you before for becoming Orthodox and telling your story, then I’ll be the first, and you may want to read this letter.

I grew up in Ukraine, a predominantly Orthodox country, in the 80s and 90s - the times when the country was transitioning from its communist past to its new reality. While habitually baptized as an infant, I didn’t grow up going to church regularly. We would stop by to light a candle occasionally, pick up blessed willows, or bless our baskets in the early morning hours of Paskhal night. But church traditions and stories were tightly woven over centuries into the common culture, folklore, literature, architecture, and life stories around us. I was aware of the existence of other Christian and non-Christian denominations, but never really gave a serious thought to the differences, or to the need to choose. Being serious about being with God for me always amounted to being in the Orthodox church. I know there is a whole array of thoughts on this matter, but this is my story.

I started to develop a deeper interest in my faith while being a student at the university in Kiev, surrounded by old and newly (re)built churches, faithful classmates, centuries-old monasteries, and relics of the saints within walking distance in any direction. But, oddly, the Orthodoxy really “grew in” when I moved to the US for graduate studies. The first church I started attending regularly was a beautiful small Orthodox mission parish in Lafayette, Indiana. And this is where “the convert effect”, as I call it, happened.

Saint Alexis Orthodox church was, and still is, as their web-site calls it “a uniquely "American" melting-pot parish, where "Cradle" Orthodox from the Greek, Syrian, Russian, Romanian, Ukranian and Carpatho-Russian traditions worship along with converts from a number of Protestant denominations and Roman Catholicism”. It was the first time I’ve met so many people, who deliberately and willingly chose to become Orthodox. I was used to people being baptized in their infancy and not going to church, or various paths of returning, or being at different distances from the church they already belonged to by virtue of being baptized there.

But people who made a conscious educated choice to come here? – this was new. And it raised many questions for me. I started wondering about the real differences between various Christian denominations. I wanted to understand what it was, that Orthodoxy had, and that I took for granted, that these people were searching for. And what they were finding here, that made it worth for them to change their names, sometimes go against their families, endure being misunderstood and losing friends. This encounter with the determined, burning, sober love for my faith in these people, opened one after another, many powerful and beautiful sides and depths of Orthodoxy, which I never paid attention to before. Yes, the problems of the rich! Taking for granted the treasures, I never realized I had.

I devoured the stories of Mathew Gallatin, Peter Gillquist, Father Seraphim Rose, and many of my convert friends. I started noticing recurring themes: the Width, the Depth, the Beauty, and most of all - the Truth, which people found in Orthodoxy. The stories of “finally feeling at Home”.

After moving to Maryland over 10 years ago, God has placed me in yet another “melting pot” mission parish. In all these years at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Beltsville, I continue meeting converts, hearing their stories, which never cease to inspire in me the awe for the many ways God brings people to Him, for the Beauty, the Depth and the Truth of the faith. In watching new people convert to Orthodoxy, I started paying more attention to the stories of cradle Orthodox as well. And really, the “personal conversion” of every “cradle Orthodox” or convert, who makes this conscious choice to follow Christ. Witnessing the miracle of the change of heart is a constant reminder to me about the treasure, which can so easily be taken for granted. Every conversion story to me is a powerful reminder, inspiration, and encouragement!

For a few years I had in mind to write this letter, but it has always been lost among the more important things to do. It seems the time has come. As Holy Apostles is beginning its capital campaign to give yet another (much beloved) mission parish it permanent church home, I’ve been thinking about all the people who hear about Orthodoxy through the infinitely important mission parishes. The people who change their names, their lives, their habits… and amazingly, teach life-long Orthodox about their faith. Yes, I am very excited about our new parish hall design, about the dream coming true, and the vision for the beautifully restored church for the Holy Apostles parish. Of course, here the link to our building project page for you to come and watch and participate in our progress:


So if you ever wondered about the need to tell your story or possible interest to it, I can guarantee you at least one very grateful reader/listener! Please tell your story, live your story, and keep up the good fight. You never know who you inspire!

With much Love in Christ,
Cradle Orthodox

Architect's Watercolor of New Parish Hall - click to see more...
Architect's Watercolor of New Parish Hall - click to see more...

Andrew Gould’s Inspiration - Architect Andrew Gould’s initial concept drawings have been further expanded to the beautiful watercolor he has made of the parish hall.  A big print of it is sitting on the baptismal font.  A smaller version is on the wall together with the concept drawings already provided.  We are convinced that Andrew is a Godsend.  Please study and be inspired by his art in your giving and praying.

Holy Apostles Youtube Channel and Videos! - See online the results of the labors of Herman Muller in consultation with Matushka Deborah in creating the parish youtube channel.  The channel banner is from the 6th century mosaic icon over the altar of the church of St. Apollinaris in Classe in Ravenna, Italy.  The contents consist of all our videos over the years, leading off with the complete video of June 10th’s fund raising event.

Pray for: Our Traveler Abraham Alexander.

The Holy Fire is with us from this year’s Holy Land Pascal celebration, conveyed to Metropolitan Hilarion in New York, conveyed by him to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedra; in Howell, NJ, and conveyed to us from there by a friend of the parish.  Please avail yourselves of it, and join those who keep the fire burning all the time.  To do this well, you need two oil lamps like those at church that you relight twice daily, one from the other.

Make an Annual Pledge to help us with steady financial help and fulfill  our responsibility to God and each other.  The ideal foundation for giving is a tithe, or 10%.  Those who do this testify of God’s blessings.  Please complete a pledge form and return it to the donation box.


Service and Support Opportunities:

  • Sign up to make a meal for all after Sunday Divine Liturgy, together with cleanup. We need food for up to 60. Add your name to the signup sheet.
  • Holy Apostles Chariots – See Reader Kyril : if you need a ride.
  • Holy Apostles Choir – Required rehearsals are from 7 to 9 PM on Thursdays.
  • The St. Juliana of Lazarevo Sisterhood sees to various needs of the parish, including church decoration and prosphora baking. See Elena Solodkova (Sherry).
  • Nick’s Place is a halfway house for young men recovering from substance abuse. We deliver non-perishable goods. Please donate.
  • A Commemorative Tile made by John Hume is a likeness of our chapel with our name and the verse, “I was glad when they said unto me: Let us go into the house of the Lord.” This beautiful perpetual reminder of mutual prayer can be had for $45.
  • We accept credit cards! We have a card reader that works with smart phones, so, get with the treasurer (or designee), to make donations and purchases.
  • We have an on-line mall service from the eScrip program. The eScrip page of our web site has a link and instructions for use. For items bought through eScrip, merchants donate small referral bonuses to our building fund. Please use this method for your on-line shopping. See our treasurer, Mariya Petrenko for more information.
  • Please sign our Guest Book! - When you visit for the first time please record your coming in the little book by the door, including name and contact information such as address, telephone and email. If you wish to be on our distribution list, please let us know.
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