Sunday, August 14, 2016

Clergy spotlight: Fr. Alexis Baldwin in North Augusta, SC

Readers may remember Holy Resurrection Mission and Fr. Alexis from this post last year. You all were wonderful enough to donate thousands of dollars to the mission's roof campaign. God's blessing to you all!

( - Fr Alexis Baldwin converted to the Holy Orthodox Church in 2009. A graduate of St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2013, he was ordained to the holy priesthood on July 14 of that year on the feast of All Saints of Britain and Ireland. He is currently the priest in charge at Holy Resurrection Mission in North Augusta, SC.

I had the joy of studying with Fr. Alexis in seminary and getting to know him and his wife Matushka Veronica and their children. Fr. Alexis was always approachable, in a good mood, passionate about the Orthodox faith, and hard-working, even pulling double duty as the seminary cook while simultaneously taking classes.

I had the great pleasure of catching up with Fr. Alexis recently in Kiev where he was on pilgrimage, and especially of attending services together at the Kiev Caves Lavra. While there we also found some time to chat about his life, work, struggles, and joys as a young priest serving in a small mission parish in the American south.

—Fr. Alexis, please tell us about your work as the priest of a small mission parish.

—Of course being a mission priest is a challenge because the mission priest usually has a double task, meaning they have to work and work at the mission at the same time, and I think that’s the biggest challenge. Anytime you work it divides up your time, and that’s not good. As Fr. Atty1 used to say, a priest has to give 100% to his family and 100% to the Church.

—How do you work that out?

—You don’t. It doesn’t have to make any sense. There are a lot of things in the spiritual life like that, and I think we began to encounter them even in seminary. Things don’t necessarily have to make sense on paper, but by the grace of God they work out and they make sense. If you put the work in and you’re under the guidance of your bishop and working with priests in your diocese then God provides the fruit. But it’s a lot of work and it’s a challenge.

That was a big concern. We didn’t move out to South Carolina to work my secular job, which is roasting coffee. It pays the bills and I’m happy that God has allowed me to be in a place where I can have a job that not only am I good at but I enjoy, but from the very beginning there was an understanding with the secular job that the reason I’m in South Carolina is to be a priest and serve the Church, and there can never be a conflict in those schedules.

—It’s good that you found a place that is understanding about that.

—Thank God, they’re very understanding. From the very beginning I was very open with my boss and manager about who I am, what I do, and what’s important. I like working there, but they understand that my priority lies with the Church. They may not understand the Church but they understand where the priority lies. That’s part of the struggle, but of course, I have to tell you, Fr. Atty used to say that every priest is a mission priest, and because of that I think mission priests share in the joy of the priesthood, period. It’s all joy. Even the struggle is a joy. It may not feel like it sometimes, but it’s all a joy...
Complete article here.

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