Joint Celebration of Unity

From right to left: Rev. Priest Michael Popkhadze, Rev. Priest John Vass, Rev. Priest George Johnson, Rev. Priest Ioann Barbus, Rev. Deacon Michael Bishop.

On Sunday, November 4, 2007, the feast day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, the Orthodox faithful of the Baltimore/Washington DC Metropolitan area joyfully concelebrated Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Baltimore, MD to mark the restoration of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church.

The pastor of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, Rev. Priest John Vass concelebrated Divine Liturgy with Rev. Priest Ioann Barbus, Pastor of Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Baltimore; Rev. Priest George Johnson, Pastor of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Beltsville, MD; Rev. Priest Michael Popkhadze from St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral (OCA) in Washington, DC; and Rev. Deacon Michael Bishop from Holy Trinity.

All of the visiting clergy brought their own parish communities to participate in the celebrations. The church was full with many Orthodox believers from each of the four parishes mentioned above.

The Divine Services were conducted in English, Church Slavonic, Georgian and Moldavian. Choirs from Holy Trinity and Holy Apostles sang the responses and hymns in the traditional Russian chant.

In his sermon, Fr. George Johnson preached about the need for us to preserve unity and to lovingly care for one another. He stressed the significance of our joint celebrations and the call for us to build upon the miracles we have witnessed during these last several months.

Before the end of liturgy, a short moleben with the magnification was offered in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Afterwards, Fr. John Vass individually thanked the visiting clergy for concelebrating Divine Liturgy and for bringing their parish communities “to join all of us at Holy Trinity on such a joyful and historic day.” Fr. John stressed the need for the parishes to cooperate on many future projects needed to help educate our youth, to strengthen our liturgical life and to further enlighten our faith. “As Orthodox Christians all of us are called to give witness of our faith to the world around us. Let us together, with love and faith, strive to bear fruit of our newly established unity,” Fr. John said. At the conclusion of the service ‘Many Years’ was sung for His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II, His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and His Excellency Bishop Mercurius.

After Divine Services a festive trapeza-reception was held in the church hall, coordinated through the mutual cooperation from each of the four parish communities.

O Most Holy Trinity, Our God, Glory to Thee!