Not only have I made a major change from being Baptist to Orthodox. Other major changes are under way now. The change that affects all of us Antiochians is that of our new Metropolitan Joseph. Metropolitan Philip (Memory Eternal) has left a tremendous legacy of church unification and expansion. It is my prayer, and that of others, that our new Sayedna will let God lead him and use the gifts he has been granted with to lead our diocese for years to come.
In speaking of transitions, St. Basil the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church is now located at 1520 Todds Lane, Hampton, VA 23666. The building was a child care center located beside a Mormon Church and across the street from a United Methodist Church. While I did get used to going to church in Poquoson, I think our new location will be better for evangelism and outreach as we are not far from the Mercury Blvd corridor. Not to mention that I have two gift cards from Bass Pro Shops and there is a store less than 2 miles away!
Last Sunday, we held Divine Liturgy and a building sanctification in rather close quarters. Over the coming days, weeks, and months; we will be taking out walls and putting in new ones. A lot of mess will have to be gathered up and thrown away. We are not hiring contractors (we don’t have that kind of money). But, we are blessed to have people who are willing to work and have some brothers who actually know what they are doing. As long as no one tries to put a paint brush in my hands, we will have a fine house of worship. Compared to the churches around us, we will not look much like a religious building. Perhaps we can put up one of those Russian style onion domes on top or something.
Six months into Orthodoxy, I feel at home here. On the surface, it would seem strange that a black ex-Baptist country preacher would feel welcomed in a white church. But, as I explained in previous articles, the Orthodox Church is a white church that is not. It is rooted in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The worship is the same as it was in the 4th century and traces its teachings back to the Apostles. At Antioch, two African church leaders were among those who ordained Paul to spread the Gospel to the Greeks and Romans. I am a part of the Church that was for all people from the very beginning. While racism is still a reality in America, it is time for us to end 11 o’clock Sunday morning as our most segregated hour. Orthodoxy has its issues with ethnocentrism. But, it is still the church where saints of all races and all times are embraced and welcomed.
The most unifying thing about us and makes us all a part of each other is the Eucharist. We don’t have Communion one Sunday a month with individual cups filled with some liquid that is supposed to be grape juice sealed with some sort of wafer. Communion is not an afterthought taken lightly at the end of a service. We believe as Jesus, the apostles, and the scriptures taught that the bread and wine is the body and blood of Christ and that we eat of his flesh and drink of his blood each Lord’s Day. We believe that the Eucharist must be taken to give life to our souls and that it is the high point of our worship. We are to be one with Christ and one with each other. Thus, we use one cup as we have one Savior.