September 30, 2016
Stafford, VA: Metropolitan Jonah leads "The Spirit of Music in the Orthodox Parish" Fall Retreat

On Saturday, September 24, and Sunday, September 25, for the first time in four and a half years, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) visited St. Herman of Alaska Church in Stafford, VA. His last visit occurred on April 1, 2012, when he was still Archbishop of Washington, DC, and Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and the parish was Christ the Savior Mission of the OCA. On that occasion, His Beatitude celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and ordained Subdeacon Alexander Laymon to the diaconate.

His homecoming delighted and inspired the clergy, faithful, and guests of the parish.

During the Saturday visit, Metropolitan Jonah led the parish sisterhood’s second annual Fall Retreat. Titled "The Spirit of Music in the Orthodox Parish," the retreat spanned two sessions, separated by a light luncheon. In the morning session, His Eminence explored several themes: the history and theology of worship in the Old Testament, contrasting the First Temple and Second Temple liturgical styles; the legacy of First Temple liturgical music recaptured by the Early Church; the history and theology of liturgical singing in the Byzantine era; and the various musical styles in Orthodox Russia. The afternoon session provided a practical workshop in Russian choral tradition, particularly Znamenny and Kievan chant, with some attention to more unusual Orthodox styles, such as Georgian.

The following day, following the churching service for the mother and fourth child in a family of U.S. Marines, His Eminence celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Assisting were parish clergy: rector Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster and Deacon Alexander Laymon. The musical responses, invigorated by the preceding day’s Retreat & Workshop, were led by choir director Jo Lu (Nektaria) Terrell with robust singing by the congregation.

After a group photo of the participating clergy in the chapel and an outdoor group photo of the clergy and parishioners in front of the chapel, everyone proceeded to the fellowship hall for a potluck luncheon. Metropolitan Jonah pleasantly surprised the faithful by holding a long Q&A session with "no holds barred!" The questions and enlightening discussion ranged from the recent "Pan-Orthodox Council" in Crete to relations between Orthodoxy and non-Orthodox communions to the state of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese