The St. Athanasius Orthodox Church parking lot was overflowing this past weekend as Orthodox believers and their friends from across Kentucky and farther afield gathered to celebrate the formal dedication of the first OCA parish in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. St. Athanasius, entering its 14th year as an OCA community, has already been occupying its new north Nicholasville premises for the past six months. The parish delayed its formal dedication until this past weekend, however, until a substantial part of the iconography was installed and Archbishop Nikon, locum tenens of the Diocese of the South, and Bishop Mark of Philadelphia, a friend of the parish, could both be present to lead the festivities.
On Saturday, Jan. 31, Archbishop Nikon presided over Great Vespers and a Pan-Orthodox Dedication Service that included Bishop Mark, diocesan Chancellor Fr. Marcus Burch, and the Appalachian Dean Fr. David Arnold, and also clergy and laity from three other Orthodox jurisdictions. Among the honored guests was the Abbot of Holy Cross Hermitage (ROCOR), Igumen Seraphim, along with several other members of the Holy Cross monastic brotherhood, who generously served as sub-deacons for the Hierarchical Liturgy. Fr. Justin Patterson, rector of St. Athanasius, also welcomed a number of local ministers from other Christian confessions, along with the newly-elected Mayor of the City of Nicholasville, Pete Sutherland. The Saturday dedication event culminated in an evening Grand Banquet in the new parish hall at which both hierarchs not only warmly congratulated the parish faithful, but also exhorted them to press forward with Orthodox mission work in Kentucky.
On Sunday morning, Archbishop Nikon presided at the Hierarchical Liturgy and ordained Simeon Siskar to the Holy Diaconate. A parish-wide photo and potluck followed Sunday afternoon.
St. Athanasius was the recipient of the 3-year OCA Church Planting Grant (from 2003-2006) and would not be the community it is today without the investment and commitment from both the OCA and Diocese of the South. The parish remains grateful for the OCA's support in those critical early year's of the parish's history.
For more photos of the Dedication weekend, visit the St. Athanasius Facebook page.