Last Saturday morning we celebrated our first Divine Liturgy in Rolla. It was a lot of work to get ready for it – building an altar, a temporary iconostasis (four icon panels), cleaning the building, baking the prosphora (bread), and so on – but it was worth it. Walking into an Orthodox church building that has been around for awhile is much more conducive to prayer than starting from scratch in a new space, because places as well as people are sanctified by prayer. The more often a space has been used for prayer, the easier it becomes to pray there. So, for that reason, our first Liturgy was hard but very, very good.
We got to Rolla with a truck full of stuff to set up the space, and ended up having six or seven people from the Rolla area meet us there to help. Everyone pitched in and made the space feel like a real temple – it was beautiful. (We would show you pictures, and we will soon, but we don’t have them yet. Our photographer, Clayton Pearlstein, lost his job this week at a Christian school in Springfield after expressing to them his desire to become Orthodox. Please remember Clayton and his family in your prayers.)
We blessed the new space and the whole building just before celebrating Liturgy. For the service itself, we had 19 people come from the Rolla area, and nearly 20 people drive about two hours to be with us, either from St. Thomas in Springfield or from Presentation Monastery in Marshfield.
Afterward we served a short memorial service at one of the graves in the Rolla cemetery, a member of one of the local families who was killed in a car wreck when she was 24. What a beautiful gift it is to be so close to the cemetery – literally 20 feet away – to be able to pray for everyone who has gone before us in Rolla.
We had a good friend of ours who happened to take a few pictures of the space before the service began. More will come later, but we have these now:
We’ll be holding a Typika prayer service tomorrow morning at 10:30, and will continue to be present in the community as much as possible, doing the work God has given us.
UPDATE 2/17: We got our photos back from our photographer, Clayton. Enjoy.