Saying Goodbye to Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth And A New Mission Starts

7 06 2008

Jim and I have had close ties to the Orthodox group that meets at Ft. Campbell, Ky.  In fact, we left St. Elizabeth in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for six months to worship with the community at Ft. Campbell.  However, we missed the active parish life of St. Elizabeth and went back there to worship with our daughter, Vera, who was still living in Murfreesboro. 

During our six months at Ft. Campbell–Fr. Peter and Fr. Isaiah talked about the need to get an Orhtodox Church off post.  Fr. Peter had the director of missions for the Orthodox Church of America come talk with us.  Nothing concrete seemed to ever come out of that meeting.  But last October, Fr. Stephen Freeman ,who is the dean of the South from the Orthodox Church of America  came and talked with the community.( Unfortunately, we were not at that meeting. ) The vision became stronger and there seemed to be more hope of establishing an Orthodox Church in our area. 

In  February of 2008 an official bank account was opened at Fr. Stephen Freeman’s parish so that we could make contributions toward the starting of a mission.  I, more so than Jim, longed to be a part of the groundwork of getting the mission launched.  We talked with our priest in Murfreesboro about it.  He advised us to stay put for awhile.  He told us that he  knew Fr. Stephen very well and that he  would keep us informed about what was happening.  I went along with Fr. John’s plan for awhile.  Eventually, I just became very intense in my desire to be a part of the new mission.

My restless spirit just wouldn’t accept not being a part of the new mission.  So about a month ago –we approached our priest again.  He was relunctant to let us go.  His reasoning was that he didn’t want us to be hurt if the mission was slow in coming.  Very furvently, I pleaded with JIm to consider moving our bodies and our money.  Jim just wasn’t ready.  Fr. John would not give his blessing unless Jim was on board.

Finally, Jim began to see how silly it looks for us to be driving 100 miles and giving our money to St. Elizabeth when the community right in our backyard– so desparately needs our bodies and our money.  So he asked Fr. John to release us.  At that point, Fr. John was happy to let us go.  St. Elizabeth even sent a check to help with the new mission.

Fr. Isaiah and Fr. Peter are first and foremost military chaplains.  Fr. Isaiah received orders after Christmas to be deployed to Korea for three years.  Fr. Peter was sent to Iraq in March for a short deployment.  He will be back soon.  However, he will be leaving Ft. Campbell in August for good.  He has been at Ft. Campbell for ten years.  Thankfully, they both have had a vision for the future of the Orthodox Church in our area.  They have spent hours researching and praying for that vision to come true for us.

Although we didn’t stay a part of the community–Fr. Peter and Fr. Isaiah have been good to us.  Fr. Peter came to the hospital and prayed for me when I had my breast  cancer surgery.  Fr. Isaiah and his wife Beth came that evening to check on me.  Beth cooked some wonderful food for my homecoming from the hospital. Many times Beth and some of my other girlfriends have gone out for lunch or coffee.  So the bonds of love and friendship were never broken.

Last week ater the Divine Liturgy, Jim got up and announced that we were back to stay.  The community had some gifts for Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth.  The community bought Fr. Isaiah a brand new set of vestments.  The color of the  vestments are a bright red trimmed in gold.  Fr. Isaiah just couldn’t believe the community would do something like that for him.  Kh. Beth got a lovely  necklace and some ear rings.  We had a wonderful coffee hour talking about plans for the new mission.

Last night, Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth, Nancy, Susie, Jim, Vera and I went to the  monthly Amish meal in Croften, Ky.  It was highly unusual for an Orthodox priest to attend such an event.  Fr. Isaiah is required to wear his clerical clothes in public.  I wondered what everyone was thinking.  Nevertheless, we had a wonderful dinner.  Everyone came back to our home for some more fellowship.  We took pictures with our new digital camera.   It was an occasion to remember.

Tomorrow, Fr. Isaiah will wear his new vestments.  We are all excited to see him in them.  We are looking forward to one last coffee hour with Fr. Isaiah  and Beth.  I’m sure we will talk again about getting a place off base.  By the end of the summer, we hope to have a space we can rent just on Sundays.  We are not ready for the expense of maintaining a building.  Fr. Stephen Freeman is supposed to come again sometime this summer and help us refine our ideas.

Our area  is filled with Southern Baptist, United Methodist and Church of God folks. Not to negat their good works–but we want people to know about the Christian Orthodox Faith.  We want people to have that choice.  It will take a great deal of sweat equity to make this mission happen.  We will water our efforts with prayer and with our money.  Someday, the word Christian Orthodox will be familiar to all who live in our area. 

Fr. Isaiah and Kh. Beth will spend about a month traveling and visiting with their families.  They will leave for Korea in July.  May God grant them many years.  And someday–we hope they will return to visit our mission.  I can just see Fr. Isaiah wearing his red and gold vestments and performing the Divine Liturgy in our little mission.

May God bless each of you!




3 responses

20 06 2008
David Web


That restless spirit is something I share with you and is deeply embedded in my character.

There is probably a lot of good to come from your involvement closer to home, and the fellowship at Ft. Campbell. It is sometimes hard to see the fruit when planting seeds, and doubt will inevitably cast it’s ugly shawows.

I’m sure You and Jim will be fine with your new plan.

Little Brother

7 07 2008

It’s Orthodox Church IN America…

8 07 2008

Thanks for the correction, Fr. Gregg. Thanks for visiting my blog.


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