From Wednesday the 2nd through Sunday the 6th of May, the first annual Diaconate Boot Camp was held at St. Nicholas Church in Asheville Fletcher, NC. The event is the part of the Liturgical Arts School project blessed by Metropolitan Hilarion for the purpose of providing intensive courses with hands on training for the minor and major orders, as well as iconography and choir studies.
Eighteen registrants traveled from each of the three American ROCOR dioceses to study the art of the diaconate with instructors Archpriest Andre Papkov (director of the Jordanville Summer School of Music, and senior priest of Chicago’s Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral) and Protodeacon Vadim Gan (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City). On the final two days, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan led the instruction of the hierarchical Liturgy, along with Fr. Vadim. The course was not limited only to deacons, as more than half of the registrants were subdeacons and readers, as well as two laymen. In all, everybody got a chance to observe the inner workings of the diaconate though the classes, participate in many open discussions, and serve the hierarchical Vigil and Liturgy.
Lunch and dinner were provided by Matushka Kira Webb, along with other parish volunteers. Local wine and craft beer, created by the St. Nicholas parishioners who are professionals in those industries, was also featured. Andrey Medvedev, owner of Russian Chapel Hills Winery, presented four of his latest the latest red and white varietals, including the latest vintage of the Kagor chalice wine. Sierra Nevada Brewery, represented by parishioner Ricky Martinez, a chemist for the brewery, showcased two brand new craft beers.
The conference opened on Wednesday evening, May 2, with Vespers served by the registrants and an opening talk on the purpose of the Liturgical Arts School by parish rector Priest Steven Webb.
On Thursday morning, May 3, after an introduction by each registrant, Fr. Andre Papkov presented a talk on the diaconate, which included the origin and development of the order, as well as its evolving function in the community of the faithful and the liturgical services.
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After lunch, Frs. Andre and Vadim began the Censing 101 class, where they discussed proper censing and basic rubrics. The second half of the class featured an examination and critique of the censing style of each of the deacons.
The late afternoon class, "Journey Through the Liturgy 01," was taught by Fr. Vadim. This three-part class examined in detail the rubrics in each section of the Liturgy.
In the evening, a discussion during dinner addressed the topics of the day.
On Friday morning, May 4, after the Pascal troparion, Fr. Andre gave a talk on "Altar Instinct" and how it isnaturally developed from an early age on the one hand, and how it can be developed at an older age on the other. As an example, Fr. Andre played a clip of children pretending to serve as a deacon and a bishop, noting the natural inclination these five- and seven-year-olds had towards censing, etc.
The second morning session was the "Journey through the Liturgy 02," where Fr. Vadim continued an examination of the rubrics, now moving into the Altar for a hands-on tutorial for the Great Entrance.
Directly after the talk, Fr. Andre explained the physical actions of breathing and proper techniques for maximum efficiency and control for the breath, throat, and jaw. He also taught the vocal exercises to hone their skills in singing, reading and intoning the litanies. Each student got a chance to have their performance critiqued with suggestions on improving their vocals by the senior clergy.
After lunch, Fr. Andre gave a talk on the origins of the deep vocal style that has become prevalent in the Russian Orthodox Church. He played pre-revolutionary audio of Russian deacons, including recordings from 1914 of Archdeacon Konstantine Rozov, of whom he said, "Fr. Konstantine is to the diaconate hall of fame what Babe Ruth is to the baseball hall of fame."
The last class of the afternoon concluded with Frs. Andre and Vadim discussing the proper action and syncopation of two deacons preforming the great censing. The students paired up to demonstrate what they had learned, while Frs. Andre and Vadim offered critiques in style and method.
After the morning prayer on Saturday, May 5, Bishop Nicholas, Frs. Andre and Vadim gave a talk on the role of the deacon in the Liturgy, paying special attention to the relationship between the bishop, priest, and deacon in both dialogue and rubrics. During the talk, students had a chance to get answers to their liturgical questions.
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At the late morning session, Matushka Kira Webb gave a short talk on what a choir director needs from a deacon before the service, as well as successful strategies for communicating during the service.
The final talk of the morning was the "Journey through the Liturgy 03," by Frs. Andre and Vadim, completing the step-by-step examination of the rubrics of the Divine Liturgy. A special emphasis, using video slides, was a collection of images showing what not to do during theservice. Liturgical æsthetics was also discussed.
After Lunch, Frs. Andre and Vadim continued with individual vocal critiques for each student concerning the reading of the Gospel for deacons and reading of the Epistle for subdeacons and readers.
The final study of the Diaconate Boot Camp finished with Bishop Nicholas and Fr. Vadim working with the students on the rubrics of the hierarchical service.
After Dinner, the hierarchal Vigil was served by Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Andre, Fr. Steven, and Fr. Vadim, along with the deacons, subdeacons, and readers attending the conference.
On Sunday, May 6, the 2018 Diaconate Boot Camp concluded Sunday morning with the Hierarchal Liturgy, celebrated by Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Andre, Archpriest Alexander Logunov (rector of Reigning Mother of God Church in Charlotte, NC), Fr. Steven, and Fr. Vadim. Also serving were the deacons registered at the conference: Symeon Noon (St. Seraphim ofSarov Church in Monterey, CA), Procopius Naaskoof (Sts. Sergius & Herman of Valaam in Keweenaw, MI), Thomas Sprunger (St. Paisius Velichkovsky Mission in Ft. Wayne, IN), Ephraim Galloway (St.Basil the Great Church in St. Louis, MO), Ivan Makarov (Reigning Mother of God Church in Charlotte), Nicholas Ilyin (Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), and Gregory Finton (St. Innocent of Moscow Church in Carol Spring, IL).
During the reading of the Hours, Reader Abraham Cluxton of St. Nicholas Church was elevated to the rank of subdeacon.
To find out more, visit www.liturgicalarts.org.