On December 19-20, the 28th Sunday after Pentecost and the feast of the Holy Hierarch Ambrose of Milan, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan paid an archpastoral visit to St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Columbia, SC, where he officiated the divine services. Traveling with His Grace was the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora ‒ the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
On Saturday evening, the faithful gathered at the church, where parish rector Archpriest Mark Mancuso and Protodeacon Columba Wilson greeted the wonderworking icon, as the choir sang the troparion in English and Slavonic. During the All-Night Vigil, Bishop Nicholas prayed in the altar and then led the Polyeleos with the singing of the magnification to the Most Holy Theotokos.
The following morning, parish warden Joshua Shaw greeted the archpastor at the entry to the church, thanking him for his visit and holy prayers in these challenging times.
At Sixth Hour, Bishop Nicholas tonsured parish choir member Nicholas Oscar Floyd a reader.
His Grace then celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by Frs. Mark and Columba, as well as clerics from Reigning Mother of God Church in Charlotte, NC: Archpriest Alexander Logunov (rector) and Deacon Ivan Makarow.
Throughout the service, the faithful venerated the Kursk Root Icon. Nearly all those present communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon in English and Russian, speaking about the travels of the Kursk Root Icon and the centennial of the Russian Church Abroad being celebrated this year, and touching on that Sunday’s Gospel lesson, saying, in part:
"Today, we read about the healing of ten lepers, and only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank the Savior. When we receive these blessings from God ‒ I am sure we have all received something special, from a prayer or for a certain need ‒ we need to give thanks to the Almighty: for hearing us, for comforting us, for blessing us. But, many times, we forget: when we are feeling good, when we are joyful, when we are content. We forget to praise God and thank Him. We dare sometimes to even complain: that life is so difficult, that this is not fair, that I cannot do this or that, that there are too many rules, and so on. God is love, and everything we have is from God: our lives, our bodies, our sight, our senses, our ability to come to church and praise Him, thank Him, and repent. All of this is from God, and we have to always be aware of this and receive the crosses that are given to us with humility, carrying them on the path to salvation."
He then greeted the clergy and faithful with the Lord’s Day, and presented a diocesan gramota to parishioner Raphaela Sylvia Hipp for her diligent work in cleaning the church and organizing volunteers.
The protodeacon intoned Many Years for the hierarchs, clergy, parishioners, and the newly tonsured and awarded.
After the service, a luncheon prepared by the sisterhood was served in the parish hall, where words of well-wishing were offered and interaction between the bishop, clergy, and faithful continued.