UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Four Evangelists Mission in Bel Air, Maryland Celebrates 10th Anniversary
By Charles Sanderson
Photos: Subdeacons Vasyl Pasakas and Yurii Andreiko
On Sunday, 7 October -- just one day after the Extraordinary Sobor convened at the Meropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook, New Jersey -- the Metropolitan-Elect, His Eminence Archbishop Antony, together with His Grace Bishop Daniel, joined the mission parish of the Four Holy Evangelists in Bel Air, Maryland for its 10th anniversary celebration. Parishioners, family, friends and visiting clergy joined together for a joyous Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, followed by a celebratory luncheon to mark the mission’s ten years of service in Northern Maryland. The love, unity and communion shared between the faithful and their hierarchs recalled the words of the disciples: "Lord, it is good for us to be here!" (Matt. 17:4)
The first Orthodox mission in Harford County, Maryland, Four Evangelists has, by the grace of God, experienced an exciting period of growth since the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated there in 2002. Four Evangelists is blessed with many young children (comprising fully fifty percent of its membership), and among its various ministries the mission parish supports the local homeless shelter, participates in the International Orthodox Christian Ministries (IOCC) school and health kit programs, and offers religious education and workshops to children and adults of the parish as well as those outside the parish. Having met and worshipped in a series of temporary facilities over the past several years, Four Evangelists recently launched a major Capital Fund Drive for the purpose of establishing a permanent temple.
It was truly providential that Vladyka Antony's first Archpastoral visit as Metropolitan-Elect was to the mission parish of Four Evangelists. At the Extraordinary Sobor His Eminence spoke repeatedly about the need for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA to plant and support more mission parishes, and His Eminence carried that same message to Maryland the next day, as he repeatedly exhorted the community of Four Evangelists to never cease its missionary work to be "fishers of men," that all those in need of God's mercy and help would come to know the love of the Lord and His Holy Church. His Grace Bishop Daniel likewise challenged the mission to continue its growth while holding on to its unique identity as a mission parish. Both hierarchs underscored the Christian love, humility, and desire to serve others present in the Four Evangelists community, and exhorted the faithful to give generously of this most precious gift by extending that love into the needy world outside the four walls of the parish.
Four Evangelists’ pastor, Father Gregory Czumak, echoed this same message, noting that the mission’s growth over the past ten years has been the fruit of much faith, prayer, and effort by the faithful. “We fully understand that it is only by the grace of God, realized in our efforts to serve Him, and through the many prayers of you, our dear parishioners and God-given friends of our parish, that we have arrived at this point,” noted Father Gregory, “and it is only by His grace, our efforts, and your prayers that we will continue to thrive and flourish. So, today let us celebrate, and give thanks to God Almighty for allowing us this incredible opportunity.”
The faithful of Four Evangelists were joined in the anniversary celebration by family and long-time friends of the parish, including V.Rev. Gregory Matthewes-Green and Khouria Frederica, Rev. Joseph Toroney and Matushka Kathy, V.Rev. Volodymyr Steliac, Rev. Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, Rev. Deacon Michael Bishop, Rev. Deacon Vasyl Dovgan, and Reader Basil Athas. Prior to the Divine Liturgy Vladyka Antony tonsured Nicholas Czumak a reader, recognizing his own ten years of faithful service at the mission alongside his father, and afterwards, His Eminence also specifically honored long-time members and founders Alex and Lia Krowzow, along with Reader Basil, for their tireless efforts in establishing Four Evangelists mission.
At the day’s end, faithful and friends alike were reminded that Four Evangelists is a mission parish which exists solely that, by the grace of God, His Church may grow and become fully established for the sanctification and salvation of souls, and that He may be worshipped and glorified in an Orthodox manner in northern Maryland. The mission's vocation as an Orthodox Christian community is to love one another just as the Lord loves each and every one of us, and to extend that love to all who are in need of God's mercy and help. In worship, in charity, in service to others, in basic human compassion, the faithful live out that vocation in the place God has placed them: the mission parish of the Four Holy Evangelists. For this opportunity -- for this gift -- the faithful are grateful. The 10th Anniversary celebration proved a most appropriate moment to show, and to share, that gratitude.