A Journey through Holy Week

On Monday evening, a small group of Orthodox Christians gathered at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church to celebrate Bridegroom Matins of Holy Tuesday.  As Fr. Aleksa explained, out of anticipation for our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, all services during Holy Work are done well in advance of their ‘normal’ time during the rest of the year.  So the service that would normally be held on Tuesday morn, during this Great and Holy Week, was held on Monday.

That anticipation is meant to place the faithful into a mode of constant preparation, just as the troparion of the Bridegroom Matins reminds them, “Behold the Bridegroom comes and midnight – and blessed is the servant who he shall find watching, and again unworthy is the servant whom he shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, Lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, are You O our God! Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!”

That message was repeated to the faithful on Tuesday evening as the faithful once again gathered for Bridgeroom Matins of Holy Wednesday. This service, however, Fr. Aleksa directed the faithful to the hymnographical juxtoposition of two figures:  the woman, repentant, who washed the feet of Christ with her tears; and Judas, the betrayer, who in his despair failed to repent and failed to trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The following evening, Wednesday, many faithful came to church for the mystery of Holy Unction – anointing with oil unto the healing of soul and body.  Seven Epistles were read by seven different readers, and Fr. Aleksa alternated reading the Gospels with Dn. Mark.  Upon conclusion of the service, Dn. Mark, who recently wrote a paper on this sacrament, offered a reflection on the healing and medicine.  Spoken from his own personal perspective, he made clear the distinction between receiving medical care and the true healing, soul and body, that comes through Christ.

On Holy Thursday, the faithful arrived to a church in darkness with only candles lighting the nave and dim lights in the altar.  At the center of the church stood a podium upon which Fr. Aleksa and Dn. Mark read the twelve passion gospels.  Following the fifth reading, chanter George Rafilitis beautifully sung the 15th antiphon as Fr. Aleksa placed the large cross upon his shoulder and carried it to the center of church, placing Christ upon it.

As Fr. Aleksa remarked upon the service’s conclusion, this part of the service – nailing Christ to the Cross – is a powerful reminder of how our sin contributes to the painful crucifxion of our Lord.  Holy Thursday is a powerful moment for us to humble ourselves before he who was humbled upon the wood of the Cross, and to look within for where our thoughts and actions have led us to betray Christ and to shout out with the masses, “Crucify him!”

When the Matins of Holy Thursday, and the reading of the twelve Gospel passages, concluded, a number of faithful and hardworking individuals stayed late to decorate the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to clean the church in preparation for Great and Holy Friday.

The following day, in a room aglow with the scent of flowers, the faithful served the Vespers of Entombment.  As has become tradition in the St. George parish, during the reading of the Gospel man woman, and one man, removed Christ from the Cross placed in the center of the church and wrapped him in a fine linen.  That body was then presented to Fr. Aleksa who carried it into the altar space.  A few moments later that body, in the form of the burial shroud, was dramatically carried from the altar space to the tomb prepared in the center of the church.  As the choir sang the beautiful, Bulgarian rendition of “The Noble Joseph”, all those present came forward to venerate the Holy Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After a short break, the faithful gathered together of the Matins of Holy Saturday – the Lamentations.  Fr. Aleksa stood in front of the tomb and sang the hymns in relative darkness while the chanters and readers participated in the mourning of our Lord.  That sadness, however, was broken up with the singing of the bright and resurrectional Troparia – the church, once in darkness, became bright as the chanters sang briskly while Fr. Aleksa and Dn. Mark censed the entire church.

Near the end of the service, at the conclusion of the Great Doxology, and with help from a few tall altar servers, Fr. Aleksa placed the Gospel upon his head and, standing on the burial shroud. led the congregation in solemn procession around the church. By God’s grace, the rain that had been falling only moments before ceased as the people began their candle-lit movement around the church building. 

On the morning of Holy Saturday, and for the last official service of Holy Week, the faithful gathered for the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, complete with 15 old testament readings. During the singing of “Arise O God and Judge the Earth” the clergy changed from purple vestments into bright white. Those gathered felt the joy of the empty tomb, placing their faith in Christ’s descent into hell and the release of those held captive.  With joy, all left that day awaiting for the tomb to be opened and Christ’s glorious resurrection to be proclaimed to the world!

The journey through Holy Week was long and full of beautiful services – but all those who dedicated this holy time to growing closer to Christ left fulfilled, and moved, by the powerful worship experience of their Orthodox Christian faith. 

Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

Parishioners of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church began gathering long before preparation for Divine Liturgy on Lazarus Saturday, April 20th.  As has become customary for the church community, Fr. Aleksa offered an educational Divine Liturgy where the church school parents, families, and general parishioners could observe “Proskemedia” – the Preparation of the Gifts – as well as vesting and entry prayers.

With children gathered closely around him, Fr. Aleksa explained the prayers associated with each vestment, and quizzed the children on the liturgical tools and commemorations.  As this was the fourth annual Lazarus Saturday educational Liturgy, many of the children in attendance were able to identify and articulate the process and the various components present on the table of oblation.

During the commemoration of the living, the many people there early lined up to offer their names on the diskos. Near the end of the service the children, as is customary, rang their bells in joyous procession.

The following day, on Sunday, April 21st, parishioners at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church gathered for Matins and the blessing of the Palms.  People held their branches high in the air as the choir sang the Festal Troparion, “By raising Lazarus from the tomb…” and Fr. Aleksa blessed the waving branches with holy water.

This Palm Sunday, with the festal emphasis on children, Fr. Aleksa offered a “Children’s Sermon”, although it was as much for the adults as it was for the young people.  Immediately after the reading of the Gospel, the children of the St. George parish came to the front of the church and took a seat on the floor at the foot of the steps.  Fr. Aleksa spoke to the children of happiness that always seems to fade, causing us to seek more and more.  He then gave the children an easy way to remember how to find a happiness that does not dissappear – “joy”:  Jesus, first; Others, second; Yourself, last.

To the first, Father reminded the children that knowing who Jesus Christ is, as our Lord and Savior, reveals to us the depth of God’s love for humankind. Making our Lord Jesus Christ the first priority in this life not only teaches us that we are not alone, but it opens for us to a life that is rooted in light and resurrection.

To the second, Fr. Aleksa then reminded the children of the many times in Scripture where we are called to love our neighbor. He then offered that when we care for others, we open our hearts to a type of happiness that is firmly planted in the love of God.  That kind of happiness does not fade away so quickly.  In fact, spreading the love of God to other people spreads happiness an joy in the world.

Finally, Fr. Aleksa reminded the children that in true “joy”, “yourself” is last – and he spoke of the Lord’s great humility on the Feast of Palms.  He asked the children a series of questions:  Did our Lord ride in on a noble steed, or a great horse of war?  No?  What animal did carry him triumphantly into Jerusalem?  Did politicians and noblemen greet him with money and accolades?  No?  Who was waving the palms of victory and shouting Hosanna? In every instance the children, who sat quietly and with great attention, raised their hands and answered well.

The children’s sermon concluded with a final thought on ‘happiness’ in this life:  From our humility, and by putting ourselves last – after our Lord Jesus Christ and the “other” – we find a joy that does not end.

After Liturgy, the children of the parish joined their church school teachers to complete their “Passport to Pascha” as the parents and other members of the church community enjoyed fellowship over Lenten food and coffee.

5th Annual Lenten Retreat in NYC

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, 20 members of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in North Canton, Ohio, embarked on their 5th annual Lenten retreat to New York.  The program began began on Friday, March 22nd, when the faithful group gathered at the Cloisters Museum in New York City. This museum is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and houses art and architecture of medieval Europe.  Woven into the fabric of the building are a number of elements from medieval monasteries that, together, house over 2000 works of art.

Immediately following their visit to the Cloisters, the attendees departed for New Rochelle, New York, to seek the blessing of their diocesan bishop, His Grace Irinej.  The group arrived shortly after the lunch hour and received a personal tour of the Diocesan Center from their beloved hierarch. The group marveled at the beauty of the historical elements and artwork preserved for display. His Grace Bishop Irinej, together with the diocesan staff, showed the faithful of North Canton great hospitality, joining them for conversation over coffee and Lenten snacks in one of the diocesan meeting rooms.  As a final show of love and appreciation, His Grace offered each member of the group a parting gift, as well as His blessing.

The day finished with a visit to St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York, where the group met with Mat. Robyn Hatrack, the Events, Hospitality, and Alumni Officer.  She took the group on a tour of the seminary grounds, including a visit to the bookstore for SVS Press. The tour concluded in the Three Hierarchs Chapel where the faithful enjoyed a Lenten reflection by Fr. Chad Hatfield, Seminary President.

Fr. Chad reflected on how historical Christianity has always been counter-cultural, with Christians confessing their faith in ways that their contemporaries did not expect or understand. Given the trajectory of modern culture, Fr. Chad exhorted the faithful to be prepared for the challenges of living an Orthodox Christian life in the 21st century.

The retreat concluded with Divine Liturgy on Sunday, March 24th, with faithful from St. George in North Canton joining the faithful of the St. Sava Pro-Cathedral community at St. Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan. This year, as an additional blessing, the Serbian Orthodox faithful concelebrated with their Greek brethren for Divine Liturgy. Hymns alternated seamlessly between the magnificent St. Sava Choir and traditional Byzantine chanters.

Following the service, a memorial prayer was offered by His Grace Bishop Irinej for the innocent victims of the NATO aggression and bombing of Serbia on the 20th anniversary of that tragic event.

His Grace thanked the loving community at St. Eleftherios for supporting the Serbian faithful of New York during their reconstruction.  He offered that faithful Greek Christians had long offered support and care to their Serbian brethren, including, but certainly not limited to, a show of support during the NATO aggression in 1999. In addition to sending professionals, doctors, and aid workers, Greece collected many tons of humanitarian food and medicines for those Serbian people suffering from the NATO bombing. After the luncheon, His Grace invited everyone to join in the singing of “Memory Eternal” in Serbian for all of those who innocently perished at the hands of NATO aggression.

During the Lenten meal that followed, His Grace also offered His blessings to the St. Eleftherios community on the Prefeast of Annunciation, and the eve of Greek Independence Day. His Grace remarked on the accomplishment of the Greek people, fighting for their freedom after centuries of Ottoman oppression. The Greek faithful were moved by His thoughtfulness and kind words and joined him in singing in the Greek language the Kontakion to the Theotokos, “O Victorious Leader”, which is also sung, not only in honor of Greek Independence Day, but also, according to the  Greek Tradition, every Sunday during Great and Holy Lent.

Near the end of the meal, His Grace received a gift from noted Byzantine iconographer Ognyan Denev, an icon of the Granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to St. Sava by Patriarch Manuel I of Constantinople. This superlative and holy image was created to commemorate the 800th Anniversary of the Autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church. Many faithful parishioners from the communities of St. Sava, St. Eleftherios, and St. George, came forward to venerate the icon and behold its beauty before departing.

For the faithful parishioners of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, this Lenten retreat, once again, helped strengthen their efforts during the Great Fast through prayer, worship, and education.

2019 Fish Fry Dates and Menu

The St. George Fish Fry is one of the best in Stark County!  Our baked and fried fish are prepared fresh by members of our community, and our generous side portions won’t leave anyone hungry.  If you have any room left, or want something sweet to take home, many of our homemade desserts are available for you to enjoy!

What’s the best part about our fish fry?  You’ll be supporting a local church community and all the people who lovingly work hard to keep their house of faith alive!

So stop on by and enjoy our hospitality from 5 – 7:30pm

Great Lent – Dates
March 8
March 15
April 5
April 19

Menu:

Adults – $12
Kid’s Meal – $6

Choice of entree and 2 sides:

A) 1 – 8oz Baked Fish
B) 2 – 4oz Beer Batter Fish
C) 6 – Shrimp

Combo:  1 Beer Batter Fish and 3-Shrimp

Adult Dinners Include:
Choice of rice or potato

Green Beans and Coleslaw or Applesauce – Roll

Extras / A’ La Carte

  • Baked Fish – $8
  • Beer Batter Fish – $4
  • 3 Shrimp – $4
  • Side Dish – $2
  • Soft drinks and desserts available for purchase
  • Stuffed Cabbage – CARRY OUT ONLY

Liturgical Music Workshop, Baptism, and Ordination

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, and in conjunction with Protodeacon Jovan Anicic, Director of Religious Education for the Eastern American Diocese, St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in North Canton, Ohio hosted a Liturgical Music Workshop February 8th-10th, 2019.

Participants came from across northeast Ohio, including multiple parishes and jurisdictions, for Friday evening’s lecture by Pdn. Jovan on the theme, “Exploring Music through Christian Worship.” After taking some time to get to know one another, Pdn. Jovan began with a personal story:  how learning liturgical music as a child sparked within him a love for faith. He finished by discussing his growing awareness of the depth of theology contained within the music he grew to love.  Throughout the evening, the participants enjoyed lively discussion, with questions ranging from liturgical languages to the role of laity in music and chant.

The following day a larger group, including many children, gathered for practical workshops on liturgical singing.  The event began with lunch and a social hour, allotting time for participants to get to know one another.  Following a short introduction by Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich, His Grace Bishop Irinej opened the workshop sessions with inspiring words about the unique role that hymnography plays in the dissemination of Orthodox theology.  He reminded the participants that the instrument divinely made, the human voice, is the instrument best suited for use in our liturgical worship.

During the afternoon sessions,  adults participants worked with Sbdn. Milan and Mira Damljanovic who taught basics of choir singing, including pacing, breathing, and technical work.  Youth participants worked with Pdn. Jovan, playing musical games and learning three musical pieces.

On Sunday morning, the workshop concluded as workshop participants joined the members of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church for Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.  The community gathered early to greet their Hierarch, His Grace Bishop Irinej. 

Services began with the baptism of Pierce Michael Scott, child of Sarah and Kyle Scott. Family and friends rejoiced as His Grace Bishop Irinej not only celebrated the baptism, but took time to explain the significance of each part of the service. His words provided an extra dimension of depth and meaning for all those gathered.

During Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Irinej also ordained Mark Resanovich to the Holy Diaconate.  Following an age old custom, His Grace greeted him at the Royal Doors and asked, “What is it you seek from my hands?”  Dn. Mark responded with a powerful narrative of a life forged in the love of his local church:

I seek ordination into the Holy Diaconate, Your Grace. My life has been a journey of preparation for the service of the Holy Church and to God. I was born, Baptized and raised in this house of God. From my years as a youth I was blessed being an Alter Server under the grace of our beloved Father Slobodan, of blessed memory, it was his caring and love that brought the Orthodox faith into my heart, a kind and loving man of God.  Father Slobodan became my spiritual Father, his love set me on this path.

This Holy House was built by the caring and loving families of this parish. To be a witness of that devotion and love is humbling. This church is more than bricks and mortar, it is a church full of the love of God, love of family and love of the Orthodox community. A beauty of faith that holds all of us together, to worship and give thanks to God. 

To my Baba and Jedo who had the courage to come to this country, but also to hold our heritage near and dear. Their Orthodox faith passed onto their children and their grandchildren has been placed in my heart by their devotion and love. To my parents who raised me in a loving home, where God and family was the center. Both my parents have fallen asleep unto the Lord, my father suffered a long illness rendering him to be bed confined, his spirit was remarkable, always pleasant, always faithful, always full of love, I miss him dearly. To my mother who taught me how to be a faithful and loving person. My mother stood by my father, caring for him, loving him, committing her life to his care, and just before her death from cancer, asking if I was alright and if I would take of Dad. My mother was my rock, I can see her sitting in church with a beautiful smile, I love you and miss you Mom.

My children are a perfect gift from God, their beauty and love consumes me, my daughter Kristina is the light in my eyes, she is my voice when I could not speak, my advocate. Her spirit is a gift from God and that gift she freely shares. My son Kyle, he has become my role model, the pupil became the teacher, his strong presence and his strong faith are unmatched, when the doctors gave up on my survival, Kyle stood tall and refused to believe I would not survive. His faith in God was strong. To Bryan my son-in-law, a devoted person, taking care of my most precious gift from God and bringing into our lives another gift from God our Grandson Noah, a pure love of God. And to Dan and Jo Riegler, my in-laws, their love and support are unmatched, always there, always helping but most important always loving.

To my beautiful wife Denice, my support, my love, my partner for all eternity. It is my wife without exception that reads the bible daily, praying and giving thanks to God. It was her prayers that God answered when I was in the strong grasp of death. Her beauty lies in her faith, her family and her heart. I could not be without her, today we stand here together. God has blessed us!

It was in illness and near death that God sent two Angels and filled my heart with a calling to be a servant of God. It was God the perfect physician that healed me from cancer, gave me peace, answering the prayers of family, community and friends.

Serving our church in many capacities has given me much insight, serving as member of the church board, being active within the parish, cooking, cleaning and tending to the needs of the church has brought a mission of service. Serving our church as a subdeacon has offered many lessons in my faith, in my love of God and service to our church community.

The blessings of the opportunity to study Orthodox theology with the St. Stephens program has given light to our faith, an understanding of Orthodoxy and a liturgical life. Seeking knowledge and understanding will be a life long commitment, as will serving God. To assist with Father Aleksa with education and starting missions for our members is a blessing, to share what we learn and to grow the orthodox faith.

My greatest preparation has been that of prayer, giving thanks to God for a life that has been filled with his blessings. A life Full of God’s love, a life of family, church and community. In my private prayers, is where I find peace, guidance and love. God has filled my heart and sent me on a path of service, to honor him and praise him for all gifts.

Your Grace, I seek the Ordination into the Diaconate, to be an obedient and faithful Orthodox servant. To serve this Holy House, our orthodox community, to serve the Diaconate and the Priesthood and our Bishop. To be a servant of God.

Following Divine Liturgy, the faithful gathered for a meal at the St. George Event Center.  Near the end of the meal, two newly formed groups of folklore dancers at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, youth and teen, performed their first official dances for their beloved Hierarch.  Four children who have begun to learn vocal and instrumental Serbian music, performed “Tamo Daleko” for everyone as well. It was a moving performance, and a gift from the youth of the parish not only to His Grace Irinej, but to all those that joined the community in prayer that day.

Thanks be to God for the spiritually uplifting, and enriching, weekend!

Liturgical Music Workshop – February 8th – 9th

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej, St. George Serbian Orthodox Church will be hosting a Liturgical Music Workshop on Friday, February 8th and Saturday, February 9th.  This workshop is open to the public, and participation is by donation only (all donated funds will go towards costs for meals, and the featured speakers).

This year’s featured speaker is the Protodeacon Jovan Anicic, PhD, the Director of Religious Education for the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  Fr. Pdn. Jovan has hosted multiple musical workshops as a talented teacher and musician, schooled in not only the history and theology of liturgical music – but also in its practical application.

Saturday will feature two concurrent workshops – one for adults, and one specifically for children.

The current schedule is as follows:

Friday

  • Doors open at 6:00pm
  • Lecture at 6:30pm – “The Place of Musicians and Vocalists in Worship” – Pdn. Jovan Anicic
  • Social and fellowship hour will follow

Saturday

  • Luncheon at 12-noon
  • Introduction by Pdn. Jovan near the end of Lunch
  • 1pm – Session 1 – Adults (Sbdn. Milan and Mira Damljanović) – Choral Singing – Beyond the Basics
  • 1pm – Session 1 – Children (Pdn. Jovan and Protinica Emily) – Instrumental and Reading Workshop
  • 2pm – Break
  • 2:15pm – Session 2 – Adults (Sbdn. Milan and Mira Damljanović) – Select Pieces and Chants
  • 2:15pm – Session 2 – Children (Pdn. Jovan and Protinica Emily) – Junior Choir Workshop
  • 3:15pm – Closing comments and Q&A
  • 4:00pm – Great Vespers

Sunday

  • Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with His Grace Bishop Irinej

REGISTER NOW ONLINE

About our Guest Speakers

Pdn. Dr. Jovan Anicic

Protodeacon Dr. Jovan Anicic is currently the Director of Religious Education for the Eastern-American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox church. Apart from being a gifted musician, he has offered numerous theological and musical lectures and presentations all over the world.

Sbdn. Milan Damljanovic

Milan Damljanovic is the Music Director at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and St. George Antiochican Orthodox Church. Those duties include conducting the Njegos Choir, St. George Antiochian Choir, Melos Ensemble and Youth Serbian Chorus.

Mira Sokolovic-Damljanovic

Mira Sokolovic-Damljanovic is a talented instructor, soloist, and leader for youth and adult choirs. Often working in tandem with her husband, Sbdn. Milan, she brings energy and passion for Liturgical music into every lesson and rehearsal.

Bozo Joksimovic Choir of St. George goes Caroling

On Sunday, December 30th, the Bozo Joksimovic Choir of St. George Orthodox Church in North Canton gathered for their annual caroling event, visiting members of the community that currently reside in care facilities and nursing homes throughout Stark County.  The day began with Divine Liturgy, sung magnificently by members of the choir ages seven to seventy!  

During service, the church was full, and children were abundant.  Numerous altar servers assisted Father Aleksa, including first-time server Oliver S., who travels with his parents from far-away Medina for Divine Liturgy.  This week’s Epistle was read by first-time reader, Jovana S., who spoke with beautiful clarity and appropriate volume.  All throughout, the choir led the congregation in song and response.

Following Divine Liturgy, the entire community stayed for the 40-day parastos for the newly reposed servant of God Milan Aralica, father to two of the St. George Church School teachers, and grandfather to four Church School children. The Aralica family hosted a luncheon following a visit to the cemetery for prayers. 

When the afternoon had finally settled, the choir members gathered in a number of cars and visited Lucille Rogich, a matriarch of the church who offered much of her time and life to building up the church community.  In addition to the many gifts she offered, she gave one son to the priesthood, Fr. Dan Rogich, current rector of nearby Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.  Lucille’s smile widened as she joined the choir in singing traditional Christmas songs, including the festal tropar, “Thy Nativity”.

The choir then visited Nellie Evans, another matriarch of the church who gave much of her life and time into the building up of the St. George community. In addition to her many gifts given over the years, she raised up a daughter who manages catering for the church, a son-in-law who takes care of repairs big-and-small, grandchildren that participate actively in the life of the church, and many beautiful great-grandchildren. Nellie was so delighted at the visit from her church family that she was almost brought to tears.  Again, the choir sang traditional songs and spent some time expressing their love and admiration.

The day concluded with a choir social that included preparation for next week’s celebration of Badnje Vece – over Lenten food and beverage, the choir members continued practicing festal music for church.

It was a beautiful day of community, family, and Christian outreach for the faithful of St. George – Glory to God for all things!

Joyous St. Nicholas Celebration at St. George

On Sunday, December 16th, the St. George parish community rejoiced in two wonderful events celebrated on the same day – the baptism of Lex Bowers, and the annual church school St. Nicholas program.

Festivities began just prior to Divine Liturgy as the community gathered early to begin the baptismal Divine Liturgy.  Prior to the Little Entrance, Lex was anointed, washed in the baptismal waters, and christmated into the Holy Orthodox Christian church.  Lex’s journey into the church began with his love of the community by joining Slava celebrations throughout the years. In the summer, he joined the parish on their pilgrimage to the holy and historical sites of Serbia where he was profoundly moved by the deep faith and  spirituality of the Orthodox faithful and monastics. Traveling with parishioners from St. George Serbian, he journeyed throughout Serbia visiting the ancient monasteries and churches, and spending time praying with and visiting the suffering and oppressed Serbian Orthodox faithful in Kosovo and Metohija.

Upon returning to the United States, Lex and his wife Paula began attending services weekly at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church – and, together, they undertook a catechetical regimen to prepare for Lex’s entrance into the Holy Church.  In close proximity to the day of his baptism, the church celebrated the great Apostle, St. Andrew the First-Called, which is now Lex’s namesake and heavenly Patron.  The entire community joyfully and prayerfully gathered around him and welcomed him into the body of Christ!

Following the Divine Liturgy, the faithful gathered in the St. George Event Center for their annual St. Nicholas celebration. This year’s program was organized by the Kochovski and Laskvoski families – two involved, faithful families in the church community.  They decorated the hall, prepared food, and put together a wonderful and education program for the children of the church.

As soon as the children arrived at the hall, they took off their shoes and lined them up against the wall, hoping that St. Nicholas might drop-off gold coins as they learned he was famous for doing. They discussed the life of the great Saint and Wonder-worker of Myra in Lycia, and completed a craft wherein they constructed beautiful hats. The program concluded with an opportunity to greet St. Nicholas himself, sit with him, and ask questions.

With support from the Circle of Serbian Sisters, all participating children received gifts as a token of love from the dedicated women of the church.  The afternoon was filled with delight, from young to old, as the children laughed and played, learned about their faith, and continued to grow the bonds of friendship that unite them to their church community – and to each other.

Glory to God for this wonderful day!

Christian Education at St. George

This liturgical year at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, the community focus has been on engaging with our Orthodox faith through education. Our first outreach is to the children of our parish, which have a team of teachers, including Marina Quinn, Svetlana McCully, Rajko Radonjich, Sally Hein, and Gligo, Anastasia, and Jovana Sekulic, educating them at the preschool, elementary, and middle school levels.  These classes are supplemented by our St. Sebastian Youth Association, led by Subdeacon Mark Resanovich, our Youth Choir, led by Protinica Emily Pavichevich, and our Culture and Folklore taught by Marina Quinn.

The parish committee on Enrichment recognized, however, that a children’s education must find a firm grounding at home if it is going to be successful.  As such, a number of educational opportunities for adults have been added this year, and continue to grow in size. First, prior to Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich and Subdeacon Mark Resanovich co-teach adult education classes that follow the flow of Fr. Thomas Hopko’s series on “The Orthodox Faith.”  Each Sunday, a number of adults and a few teens come early to church for a fifteen-minute lesson, a question and answer session, and then the reading of the hours.

New in November, the parish began a Bible Study led by Fr. Aleksa Pavichevich.  This ongoing, bi-weekly program is coordinated by parishioners Tiffany Kochovski and Melissa Laskovski.  Beginning with the Gospel according to St. Mark, the participants will not only learn about Holy Scripture, and how reading it can impact their lives, but they are also learning about “how” they should read it in light of the Orthodox faith and Holy Tradition.

For parents in the church, quarterly workshops are offered to help families navigate the challenges inherent with raising children in the 21st-century.  The first workshop was on “Faith, Children, and Technology”, where a group of parents not only learned about some of the risks that our children face in this digital world, but also strategies to address those risks.  As usual, these workshops are not merely lectures, but provide group activities and workshops to get participants engaged and working together!

In February of 2019, St. George will host a Liturgical Music Workshop under the direction of Protodeacon Jovan Anicic, director of Religious Education for the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  This event will be Pan-Orthodox and have sessions aimed at helping faithful Christians better engage with their worship through music and song.

As always, the parish also offers annual and bi-annual pilgrimages to give the faithful people opportunities to connect with their Orthodoxy as they visit holy sites throughout the world.  Each Great Lent, the parish takes a retreat to New York City to spend time at the Diocesan Center, visit St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and join the St. Sava Pro-Cathedral community for Divine Liturgy.  Beginning in 2018 with a successful trip to the holy and historical sites of Serbia, St. George parish is already looking forward to future pilgrimages – the next in 2020.

All of these are in addition to seasonal opportunities to grow in the faith, including the annual KSS-sponsored Lenten Workshop, Lenten Seminar with a guest speaker from the Cleveland Deanery, and a guest speaker brought in by the Stark County Clergy Brotherhood for the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

It is with great joy that the faithful parishioners of St. George parish seek life in their faith through continual catechism. As their understanding of their orthodox faith in Jesus Christ continues to grow, their experience at Divine Liturgy not only deepens – it expands outside the doors of the physical church structure and into their lives!