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Beltsville, MD: Screening of "Sacred Alaska" hosted by Holy Apostles Church

On Wednesday, May 15, Holy Apostles Church in Beltsville, MD, hosted a screening of the award-winning documentary "Sacred Alaska." The screening was held in the historic Greenbelt Cinema, a small local theater near the church, in the historic town of Greenbelt. 97 tickets were sold. The purpose of the screening was missionary, following in the footsteps of our Venerable Father Herman of Alaska.

It was a beautiful cloudy spring day. The wind rustled in the leaves of the newly green trees and local people were strolling along near the shops. The clergy in attendance were: Archimandrite John (Townsend; dean of Georgia, Alabama & Mississippi), Archpriest George Johnson (parish rector), Priest Christopher Johnson (co-rector), Protodeacon John Dean (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC), and Deacon Christopher Capp (parish cleric). It was a joyful event during the Paschal season.

Orthodox Christians from all over Washington D.C, Maryland, and Virginia were in attendance. Some people had even traveled from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to make it to the screening.

There were also local residents who had never heard of Orthodox Christianity, who happened into the theater and stayed for the screening. In attendance were inquirers, catechumens, and long-time Orthodox Christians.

The screening began with a showing of the 13-minute parish video, "The Mountain of God in Beltsville," made by the parish to help build their new church. The video ends with a blessing from Metropolitan Hilarion (+May 16, 2022):

“This is one of the older churches in the Washington area, and it is on the National Historic Register. It has been given to the parish of the Holy Apostles for their use, along with two acres of beautiful land.

We appeal to Orthodox Christians, friends, and lovers of history, to support this most worthy endeavor to build a parish hall on the property, so that the parish can move here and continue the restoration of this beautiful chapel. I have been to the church site several times, and know firsthand that the lovely setting will be very conducive to a beautiful, spiritual, church life for the parish of the Holy Apostles, for this generation, and many to come.

May the Lord bless everyone who will contribute to the building of the new parish hall, and the growth of Christ’s vineyard in Beltsville, Maryland.”

The cinematography in "Sacred Alaska" is stunning, capturing the wild beauty of the land. The film describes the planting of the Faith in Alaska by St. Herman and the other missionaries who suffered greatly, traveling to the new world from Russia in the 1700s. The Alaskan natives were good ground for the planting of our Holy Faith. They saw the hand of God everywhere in the created world.

The parishioners of Holy Apostles hope to continue the work that St. Herman began in Alaska, planting our Faith in Beltsville, MD, on the land which was miraculously gifted to our parish in 2009 by the Christian Brothers, and on which President Ulysses S. Grant walked.

In introducing the films, Fr. Christopher Johnson said, "The story of Orthodoxy is always the story of being planted somewhere new and taking on the character of that place and molding it, baptizing it, changing and enlightening it by Orthodoxy…" This is what is demonstrated so beautifully by the Alaskan Native people. Orthodoxy was given to them and they were grafted into it and are now uniquely themselves and fully Orthodox.

Parishioners hope to continue this missionary work in our corner of America in Beltsville. If you would like to be a part of their journey, please visit their website and help them to build their church.

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Eastern American Diocese | Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia