Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of November brought great joy to St. Nektarios parish in Lenoir City, TN, as the community welcomed the First Hierarch of the Russia Church Abroad – Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York.
This visit was His Eminence’s fourth to St. Nektarios since the church was founded in 2010, and with each visit, he has found a church that has grown in faith, love, and numbers. This year’s visit was timed for the weekend following the parish’s patronal feast, which had taken place on Thursday, November 22, the feast day of the Holy Hierarch Nektarios of Aegina (+1920).
Metropolitan Hilarion prayed at the All-Night Vigil on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, he was greeted by parish rector Priest Job Watts and parish warden David Cusick, and received into the temple by Deacon John Hanson and many readers and altar servers.
Approximately 80 worshippers gathered for the service. The choir, led by Rachel Heuer, had practiced for many weeks, learning several new arrangements to offer in worship and praise.
Prior to the start of Divine Liturgy, Paul Briggs was tonsured a reader, while Reader Iakovos Brown was ordained a subdeacon. At the Little Entrance, His Eminence elevated Fr. Job to the rank of archpriest.
Because the parish’s patronal feast day falls so close to Thanksgiving, the parish often has a Thanksgiving-style meal to celebrate. Parishioners made special dishes to share and to honor the Metropolitan’s visit. Russian and Ukrainian members were very generous with their offerings of ethnic specialties. During and after the festal meal, His Eminence was graciously welcoming of questions, requests, and conversation, staying and visiting for several hours.