Ann Arbor/Dexter, MI – The Third Annual Ann Arbor Russian Festival took place on September 19-20, 2015 on the grounds of St. Vladimir Church here. This is the parish's single largest missionary outreach to the surrounding community of the year and the entire parish works together for almost an full year between festivals to prepare for these two days.
Church Tours were offered every few hours beginning with a bell ringing exposition, followed by a short concert featuring the parish choir, and finally a short presentation by Priest Gregory Joyce, Rector of this community. The presentation focused on interesting aspects of Orthodox theology, liturgics, hymnography, and art juxtaposed with the guests' more familiar understanding of Western Christianity. All were invited to stay after each of the formal presentations and ask questions of Fr. Gregory or one of the other members of the parish family who had been prepared to fulfill this duty of welcoming new people to the parish temple during the festival. In addition to Church Tours the parish church is open for the entirety of the festival and is staffed by the same specially trained parishioners as were present for the Church Tours. It is very difficult to assess the success or failure of such an undertaking. One may have a perspective on such an event that shows it in a successful light, while another may see it as unsuccessful. Success or failure depends on the metric one uses and on one's expectations. Such activities are heavily dependent on weather and other uncontrollable variables.
That being said, the parish feels that this year's festival was successful in that thousands of visitors were exposed to Orthodox Christianity in a positive light over the weekend, and the Church Tours were better attended than at any previous festival. Those who visited the church outside the set tour times too were more numerous than in past years. The parish is thankful to the merciful Lord that He blessed their effort and looks forward to the 2016 festival set for September 17 and 18. All are welcome!