St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco Mission Parish in Lewisburg, PA was established in 2015 with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, originally as Holy Protection Mission Parish. It since has acquired four acres of rural land (with two more being added through a donation), and this spring will be laying the foundation for a new temple, after having rented worship space at various locations. St. John’s is the first ROCOR parish in central Pennsylvania in northern Appalachia, the first Orthodox parish in its county and immediate region, and also offers the first dedicated worship space for Orthodox Christians at nearby Bucknell University.
Having raised funds for laying the foundation for a small temple, the mission is currently engaged in a $20,000 fundraising campaign to cover remaining costs of completing this year a structure for worship, which will be a small wooden structure as a first phase for a larger building project leading to a more extensive temple on its pastoral property. Donations for completion of the temple structure can be made on the parish website here.
The mission began with a local group primarily composed of converts to Orthodoxy, guided by Archpriest Claude Vinyard, who returned from retirement to be their rector. The mission has seen eight converts to Orthodoxy join the Church in the past two years. Its members include converts from Lutheranism, Atheism, Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Christian Science. Archpriest John Sorochka, Dean of Pennsylvania and rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA, also helped guide the development of the mission.
The current rector, Priest George Sharonoff, grew up in Russian-American communities in northern California, and was ordained a priest in 2019 by Bishop Luke of Syracuse, after serving the mission as subdeacon and deacon. In addition to shepherding the mission flock, he also has the care of Christ the Savior parish in Sugar Notch, PA, and now of St. Stephen’s Church in Old Forge, PA. His Matushka Anna Sharonoff is a professional musician who helps direct the choir.
In 2019, the mission acquired land in Winfield, PA, near Lewisburg, including a small cemetery, with help from the Diocese. The cemetery has since been dedicated to the Orthodox faithful. The mission also has sponsored events for the community, including an akathist service and memorial program to the Holy Royal Martyrs on the centennial of their repose in 2018 at Bucknell University, and sponsored a showing of the movie "Becoming Truly Human" by Nathan Andrew Jacobs. Fr. Claude Vinyard remains attached to the mission, where he still serves monthly. Deacon Paul Siewers, a professor at Bucknell, assists with services and conducts monthly deacon’s services, as needed, and a weekly community Bible study.
At this time, we are establishing a small building as a stepping stone to building a larger proper temple. We ask for your prayers and, if possible, donation toward this effort.
More information on the mission can be found at its website here.