In 2018, for the first time, I had a chance to talk about the history of the ROCOR, Byzantine imperial history, and Church law in the English-language community of St. Nektarios of Aegina in Lenoir City (Knoxville), TN. During that meeting, I recorded an interview with the parish rector, Archpriest Job Watts. Since that time, I have always valued the opportunity to communicate with Fr. Job. I recorded another interview at our last meeting last year at the Southern Lenten Retreat in Atlanta.
Over the past four years, the parish of St. Nektarios has grown significantly, and we decided to meet again. I was supposed to arrive in Knoxville for the February 3-4 weekend. While I was already sitting on a plane in Syracuse, NY, a snowstorm and the inability to prevent the aircraft from icing resulted in my flight’s cancellation. On the weekend of February 18-19, the weather did not stop me from getting to the place.
On Saturday morning, after the memorial service of the commemoration Saturday, our conversation introducing the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia lasted for several hours. Making sure that people understand the difference between the Orthodox Church and other Christian communities, Fr. Job allocates considerable time to catechesis. Therefore, his explanatory comments during the conversation contributed to the contextualization of the history of our church. The next day, there was a discussion devoted to introducing the discipline of ecclesiastical law. I was touched when a couple approached me after this conversation to say they had purchased the Byzantine history materials I recommended in 2018 and had recently converted to Orthodoxy.
At the parish of St. Nektarios, I managed to get another confirmation of what a priest who devotes all his time to the development of the parish can do.