September 18, 2012
Beltsville, MD: Holy Apostles Church to host a VIM Work Weekend and
Saturday, October 20, the parishioners of
Holy Apostles Church in Beltsville, MD will perform a two-mile
pilgrimage from their temporary church to what they soon hope will
become their permanent house of worship – a historic brick church
built in 1880.
Founded in 2001, the parish spent the last several years serving in
a rented storefront and saving up money to eventually purchase or
build a church. But on June 3, 2009, all of that changed when the
parishioners of Holy Apostles witnessed a pure miracle. The parish
was given a beautiful brick country church situated on two acres of
land in Beltsville by the Christian Brothers Institute. The historic
St. Joseph’s Church is a disused Catholic cemetery chapel, built in
1880 in the American Queen Anne Revival style and listed on the
National Historic Register.
For three years, the parishioners of Holy Apostles Church have
worked to restore the chapel with their own hands, but significant
repairs and renovations must be made to the building. "About a
million dollars or more of funds are required to restore the
building for proper usage as a church," said Metropolitan Hilarion.
The parishioner’s appeals for help were echoed by the First Hierarch
during his visit to the Chapel in May 2011. "We appeal to all
people, Orthodox Christians, friends, lovers of history, to support
this most worthy endeavor to restore this church."
Despite not having sufficient funds to complete the restoration
process, the faithful are anxious to move forward. On Saturday,
October 20, they will process for two miles through the streets of
Beltsville to the historic chapel. "The procession will be a
physical expression of our prayer to the Lord that He move our
parish to our new home," said parish rector Archpriest George
Johnson. Upon completion of the procession, a moleben will be
served, followed by a tour of the church.
The tradition of performing processions as an expression of faith
goes back to the earliest days of the Church. "For centuries,
Orthodox Christians have performed processions in different times of
need – war, droughts, earthquake, famine, etc.," said
Bishop George of Mayfield. "This is a sacred and important
tradition, because it is a way of physically expressing our faith
through struggle. We tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle
of modern day life, and forget that without struggle there is no
reward. This is also an ideal opportunity for missionary work,
because the service is being taken out of the confines of the church
building and shared with the entire world."
order to prepare the church and property for this expression of
faith, a Volunteers in Mission (VIM) work weekend is being organized
at the parish. The VIM program is a
diocesan initiative that seeks to gather volunteers in different
parts of the diocese to help monasteries and parishes that are in
need. On October 18 and 19, VIM director Archpriest John Moses will
lead two work days at St. Joseph’s Chapel.
In the words of Fr. John, this project is vital to the spreading of
the Orthodox Faith in America. "We are small compared to others, but
this means that we are like the leaven in the dough, or like the
seed that falls into the ground to bring forth a large harvest. If
we help and support each other by prayer and financial support, we
will see much more accomplished."
VIM is very different from the many social and volunteer programs
that exist in America, because it is not just about physical labor.
Those who can spare a few hours to lend a hand may soon realize that
they have helped themselves
more than the parish: "If we roll up our sleeves and join with our
brothers and sisters in their struggle to establish churches and
missions, we will not only build churches, but we will also build up
ourselves in heart, soul and spirit," said Fr. John.
Everyone is invited to come and participate in the work weekend.
Volunteers are asked to contact Fr. John to confirm their
For more information about the pilgrimage and VIM project,
Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese