With the blessing of His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, the Church of St. Tikhon the Confessor in Blountville, TN received the blessing of caring for the holy wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God from November 15-18, 2021.
The Holy Icon was greeted in the early hours of the morning on Monday, November 15, by a small group of parishioners. Divine Liturgy was then served with great reverence and solemnity. On Tuesday evening, November 16, the Akathist Hymn was sung before the Kursk Root Icon, with the participation of parish and visiting clergy, parishioners, and many other faithful from the region.
Bishop Nicholas arrived on Wednesday, November 17, to officiate the All-Night Vigil and celebrate Divine Liturgy for the parish’s patronal feast day, which is celebrated on the annual commemoration of St. Tikhon’s election as Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia in 1917. On Wednesday evening, the visiting clergy and their families were welcomed by a fasting meal prepared by the parish sisterhood, after which the Vigil was celebrated with great festivity.
On Thursday, November 18, Bishop Nicholas celebrated Liturgy, co-served by parish and visiting clergy: Archpriest Matthew Williams (parish rector), Archpriest Christopher Stanton (cleric of St. Petka Serbian Church in Nashville, TN), Archpriest Mark Tyson (rector of Holy Prophet Elijah Mission in Pigeon Forge, TN), Priest Steven Webb (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Fletcher, NC), Priest Gabriel Weller (rector of Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Harrisonburg, VA), Priest Zachary Rose (rector of Sts. Peter & Febronia Church in Kansas City, KS), Hieromonk Felipe (Balingit; cleric of the Mission in the Philippines), Protodeacon Jeremiah Davis (cleric of Christ the Savior Church, Wayne in WV), Deacon Joseph Sefchick (parish cleric), and Deacon Romanos Regado (cleric of the Mission in the Philippines). Archpriest Gregory Mathewes-Green (pastor emeritus of Holy Cross Antiochian Church in Linthicum Heights, MD) and Priest Stephen Mathewes (rector of Christ the Savior Greek Church in Bluff City, TN) were also present praying in the altar.
During the Sixth Hour, John Williams was tonsured as a reader for the parish. At the Little Entrance, with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, Frs. Matthew Williams and Mark Tyson were awarded the right to wear the palitsa, which symbolizes the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Eph. 6:17), that is to say, the defense of the Faith.
The services were accompanied by the prayerful and beautiful singing of the parish choir.
Upon conclusion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas spoke words of encouragement, offering St. Tikhon’s spiritual and physical endurance during times of great tribulation as an example of unwavering faith and service to the Church, and Fr. Matthew welcomed and thanked Bishop Nicholas for his archpastoral care for the parish.
The Polychronion was intoned for the newly awarded clerics, the newly tonsured reader, and all of the faithful.
The celebration concluded with a festal luncheon prepared by the parish. During the four days of celebration, the holy icon blessed the homes of many of the faithful in Northeast Tennessee and was venerated by hundreds of parishioners and visitors. May the blessing of the Most Holy Theotokos and this celebration of St. Tikhon’s election long be remembered in the hearts of those who participated!