Joseph of Optina Church
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
P.O. Box 64476
Virginia Beach, VA 23467 - 4476
(757) 479-1714, (757) 479-1926
Deanery of the South
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
PO Box 160
Battery Park, VA 23304
Phone: (757) 831-0652
Elizabeth the New Martyr Sisterhood
Matushka Zenobia Stephens
Phone: (757) 479-1714
Phone: (757) 399-8144
are sung in Church Slavonic and English.
Vigil 6:00 PM
Sunday morning: Divine Liturgy 9:30 AM
Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Russian Orthodox Community of Tidewater, Virginia has gone a
long way since we first started in 1989.The earliest Divine Services
following Matushka Zenobia's and Fr. Seraphim’s becoming Orthodox
were prayed together on the sofa in their living room in a 3-storied
townhouse where they lived at that time. Shortly thereafter they
were joined by their daughters, Minka, Renee, Danielle and Gabrielle
and their granddaughter Bayley. Within months their future
son-in-law, Subdeacon Thomas (bob) Taylor, Fr. Onouphry, Matushka
Anna and Nora Keith joined the l small fellowship. Matushka
Zenobia's mother was also with us and the 12 original members began
the journey that has led us to this very moment.
to 1992 we offered Reader Services. Our witness grew and new
membership joined with us. We became St. Ignatius of Antioch
Orthodox Church. Fr. Seraphim was ordained Deacon in January
1992 and Fr. Onopuphry was ordained Subdeacon. We outgrew the living
room and moved to a storefront (in a former Oriental Fish Market)
where we remained for the next 5 years. The core membership was
substantiated during these year, many of the original membership are
still with us today. In September of 1992 Fr. Seraphim was
ordained Priest. In 1994 our Mission was received into the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad by Vladyka Hilarion in the presence of
Vladyka Metropolitan Vitaly, First Hierarch of the Russian Church
Abroad. Later in the year Fr. Onouphry was ordained Deacon. A year
or so later we moved the Church to the 400 square foot garage at the
rectory where it remained until the Fall of 2003.
the mid-90's we assisted several Missions into formation. All Saints
of North America Russian Orthodox Church in Middlebrook, Virginia
was birthed by our efforts resulting in the ordination of Fr. John
Moses to the Priesthood. We also established Akathist Chapel Russian
Orthodox Church in Clearbrook, Virginia. Fr. Onouphry, Matushka
Anna, Matushka Zenobia and Fr. seraphim became "circuit
riding" missionaries serving all three missions for several
through 2000, Matushka Zenobia and Fr. Seraphim took on other
duties in the Southern Deanery. Both served at St. Seraphim Russian
Orthodox Camp in Pennsylvania assisting Fr. Alexis Duncan, the Camp
Founder and Director. Fr. Alexis was appointed Sub-Dean for the
English missions in the Southern Deanery and Fr. Seraphim was
appointed to assist him. Together Fr. Alexis and Fr. Seraphim
wrote the "Clergy Handbook" for the Southern
Ignatius and All Saints Churches sponsored the Nativity Fast Clergy
Retreat and Conference for the Southern Deanery in 1999. Also during
that year St. Ignatius hosted the Virginia Missions Conference.
Ignatius ROC was an active participant in all of the Southern
Missions Conferences and Clergy Conferences from 1995 to 2000.
an unfortunate turn of events the year 2000 brought much disruption
in the life of the Church Abroad ultimately resulting in a schism in
the Church. Our mission was divided for 2 years.
that 2 years a group of former members of St. Ignatius formed a
mission effort receiving the name St. Joseph of Optina Russian
Orthodox Mission. Fr. Onouphry Keith was assigned to serve this
mission along with several other small missions in Virginia and
Tennessee. Through the efforts of Kyrill Johnson a temple structure
was begun on his property in Chesapeake near Great Bridge.
grace and mercy of God, the brotherly help of Fr. Alexis Duncan and
Fr. Onouphry Keith, Vladyka Gabriel received St. Ignatius back into
the Church Abroad. The two groups, St. Ignatius of Antioch and St.
Joseph of Optina, agreed to unite and form one parish with the
blessing of Vladyka Gabriel. We are now St. Joseph of Optina Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad. We serve a 50 mile radius in
Tidewater/Hampton Roads, Virginia.
an exciting time for our Orthodox community. We are the only
traditional Orthodox witness in Southeastern Virginia. We have the
opportunity to serve the Russian émigré population as
well as the many converts who are longing for true Orthodoxy in
their lives. We have made our Divine Services available in
English and Church Slavonic along with Russian readings of the
Apostle and Gospel.
whatever reason, we lost our original wooden church temple. We
are now negotiating to buy a building in Norfolk. In the
meantime we meet once-a-month the last weekend of the month at St.
Theodore’s Greek Orthodox Chapel at Annunciation Cathedral. The
remaining services are held at the Rectory until we acquire our new