On February 8-9th, the Sunday of the Sunday of the Publican & the Pharisee, as well of the Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia, St. Martin of Tours Mission in Montgomery, AL, was honored by a visit from the dean of Georgia, Alabama & Mississippi, Abbot John (Townsend). Fr. John has also served as the long-time rector of St. Mary of Egypt Church in Roswell, GA. Fr. John celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by mission rector Priest Elias Crowder.
Fr. John’s visit was especially a cause of joy, as it had been him personally, on behalf of its founding members, who petitioned Metropolitan Hilarion for a blessing to start the mission in 2015. St. Martin of Tours Mission holds services in a rented space in the heart of Downtown Montgomery, just four buildings away from the Alabama State Capitol.
After Divine Liturgy, Fr. John addressed the mission members, emphasizing significance of the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. "It would be easy to look around and see what you do not have and to be discouraged by the fact you meet in a borrowed space that does not look like a typical Orthodox church," Fr. John remarked. "But you have a place to have services, people to attend them, a priest to serve them and, most importantly, God’s grace in and through them. So, really, you have everything!"
"We were very happy to have Fr. John with us," Fr. Elias said later. "He has been a tremendous mentor and resource for me and for all the deanery clergy."
"We are just a small mission here in the Deep South, but we do not feel isolated or disconnected in the least. Our diocesan leadership is incredibly responsive, encouraging, and helpful. This is true of our bishops, firstly, of our beloved First Hierarch, Metropolitan Hilarion, and of Bishops Nicholas and Luke, and of all who work in the diocesan administration. And it is especially true of our dean, Fr. John. His visit to us this weekend was a tremendously positive experience for all of us. It helps us feel connected in a vital way with the rest of the Eastern American Diocese and with ROCOR in general."
The clergy and faithful of St. Martin are committed to having weekly services and, whenever possible, services for feast days and other special occasions, as well. They welcome all visitors, inquirers, and Orthodox Christians who are seeking a parish home.