Bishop Peter celebrates the feast of St. Herman of Alaska
Bishop Peter celebrates the feast of St. Herman of Alaska in Lake Odessa

On the bright, cold morning of Dec. 12/25, the small missionary community of St. Herman welcomed its bishop to the rural Michigan village of Lake Odessa and its new church building. The St. Herman community acquired the 100-year-old church a year and a half ago, after worshipping in a private home for several years.  Since then, it has been busy remodeling the former United Brethren church for Orthodox Christian worship.  This was the first pastoral visit of our father in Christ to our church’s new home.

Bishop Peter was greeted at the church doors with the traditional bread and salt – the bread made from local wheat donated by neighboring farmers and grown within sight of the church.  Braving the icy roads with Vladika were Fr. Deacon Vadim Gan, subdeacon Andrei Urtiew, reader Leonty Naidzions and Ksenia Sosoniuk from the Des Plaines cathedral.  Other guests were Fr. Gregory Joyce, rector of the neighboring St. Vladimir Parish in Ann Arbor, and parishioners from the St. John Chrysostom Church in Grand Rapids, a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The joyful and solemn hierarchical Liturgy was celebrated for the first time in the spacious but cozy church, with responses sung by the congregation and by the choir under the direction of reader Leonid Sourine.  At the end of the service, Vladika spoke on the Eucharist, comparing the intimate mutual love and knowledge between a mother and child to our relationship to Jesus Christ, given to us through Holy Communion.

A festive trapeza concluded the day’s events, with Vladika entertaining questions from parishioners and informing us of upcoming events in the diocese.  The relaxed atmosphere enabled many parishioners to introduce themselves to Vladika and to ask his blessing on themselves and their families.  Vladika was also able to inspect the work done on remodeling the church, including the construction of a traditional Moscow-school iconostasis and Matushka Darya’s progress on the icons themselves.

At present, St. Herman’s is the only Orthodox church of any jurisdiction between Grand Rapids and Lansing.  As an island of the unchanged apostolic faith in a sea of other religious beliefs, our parish has a consciously missionary focus.  We worship mainly in the English language, following the apostolic traditions of our Faith in offering the Divine Services to the people of a nation in their own language. 

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