If you are familiar with your OCA calendar-related history of conflicts, jurisdictional battles, and acrimony, the idea of an Old Calendar mission parish is an interesting one to be sure. That it is in the Diocese of the South adds even more flavor to the story.
Jacksonville, FL (OCA) - The increase in the number of immigrants from central and eastern Europe during the past two decades has witnessed the planting of a growing number of new communities across North America.
The most recent mission plant—Annunciation Church in Jacksonville, FL, a mission effort of the city’s Saint Justin Martyr Church—will celebrate its first Divine liturgy on Sunday, September 2, 2012.
In the words of Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk, rector of Saint Justin’s, Annunciation is “the first ever exclusively Russian speaking parish of the Diocese of the South. Hieromonk Arkady [Migunov], the priest-in-charge, will celebrate services in Slavonic following the Old Calendar.”
Annunciation Church’s background is described by Father Ted in a recent interview.
“Annunciation began as an outreach of Saint Justin Martyr parish to the Russian immigrant population in Jacksonville, FL. Since the inception of Saint Justin Martyr, recently immigrated Russian Orthodox Christians would attend services but did not assimilate well into the community because of language and cultural barriers. In the early 2000s, with the blessings of Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory, Saint Justin Martyr began the search for a Russian priest with a heart for missions.
“Many Russian priests visited over the years, but none was a fit until Father Arkady visited. Father Arkady had recently moved to the United States to do mission work amongst the Russians and was serving in a South Florida parish. Prior to coming to the States, he was a monastic for eight years at Saints Boris and Gleb Monastery in Torzhok, Russia.
“To assure success, Saint Justin Martyr studied the missiology of successful cross-cultural church plants and tried to identify what went wrong in churches that failed. A ministry plan was developed and presented to Archbishop Dmitri, who blessed twice per month Liturgies at 12 noon in Slavonic for a period of two years for the sole purpose of gathering a community with the goal of planting an exclusively Russian Orthodox Church.
“During this time, Father Arkady became fluent in English, the Russian community grew from 20 or so Russians who were affiliated with Saint Justin Martyr to 60 committed Russian Orthodox Christians and to 100 regular attendees.
“By mid-2012, the average noon Sunday Liturgy attendance was about 50, and many of the Russians had committed to tithing. Since Father Arkady’s arrival, over 50 Russians have been baptized, American spouses of newly immigrated Russians have been chrismated, and Russian Baptists have returned to the faith of their ancestors.
“Coincidentally, Annunciation Church’s faithful worship within 100 feet from where Saint Justin Martyr incubated for seven years before they built their present church.
“Sunday, August 26, 2012, was both a day of joy and sadness—joy for the new missionary adventure, tears for friends who will not be together on Sundays. Like a family with a child who grows up and moves away, Saint Justin Martyr and Annunciation will continue be close. For example, Annunciation youth will continue to participate in the Saint Justin Martyr youth program, and we will continue to share social activities together.
“This is not the first time Saint Justin Martyr has helped plant an ethnic mission in Jacksonville. In 2000, Saint Justin Martyr invited a Serbian priest to serve 50 or so recently immigrated Serbian Orthodox parishioners and hosted the community for two years before Saint Milutin Serbian Orthodox Church was planted.”
For additional information, please visit Saint Justin Martyr Church’s web site (here).