The parish anniversary celebrations of Holy Apostles Church in Beltsville, MD were heartwarming, joyful, and spiritually fulfilling. The actual feast day on Thursday, July 13, was attended by 12 parishioners – an apostolic number – and was itself on occasion of great joy. Every attendee prepared for and received Christ’s Holy Mysteries at Liturgy. The parish choir sang to perfection, both for the actual feast and at the weekend services to follow.
On Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th of July, longtime spiritual father mentor to the parish, Archpriest John Townsend – rector of St. Mary of Egypt Church in Roswell (Atlanta), GA, attended and led the divine services. He was co-served by parish clergy: rector Archpriest George Johnson, Priest Christopher Johnson, and Deacon Christopher Capp. Church life admits of no mere coincidences: Fr. John’s presence, this time as always, was directly helpful in current parish pastoral needs.
Because the Holy Royal Martyrs have meant so much to parishioners over the years, Holy Apostles Church asked permission of Metropolitan Hilarion to transfer their commemoration to Sunday. His Eminence granted his blessing, and sent his archpastoral greeting: "Wishing you, your family, and all the faithful warmest greetings and congratulations with the feast of the Holy Apostles."
In Fr. John’s sermon, he emphasized the significance for the faithful of the example of the martyred Royal Family as an ideal Orthodox Christian family. Keeping to this ideal made them ready for the ultimate offering of their lives. We should so train ourselves to ready ourselves for whatever God presents to us in following His will.
After Sunday service, parishioners gathered for a reception at the rectory to great each other, welcome Fr. John, and partake of the bounty provided by the congregation. The sisterhood and their assistants managed the flow of dishes full and empty, while parents took turns managing the children gathered in the rectory sandbox for their happy and "gritty" fellowship.
In their patronal feast, parishioners at Holy Apostles Church experienced the fullness of joy promised by our Lord.