Anniversary Celebrations in the Russian Orthodox Church of St.Sergius of Radonezh in Johannesburg
Celebrations were held at the Church of St.Sergius of Radonezh on the 5th and 6th of October. The celebrations were held to honour the foundation of the congregation (15 years) and the consecration of the church itself (10 years). The celebrations and Service held on this day were lead by His Eminence Mark, Archbishop of Egoryevsk, Head of the Directorate for Institutions Abroad of the Russian Orthodox Church. The celebrations and service were given the blessing of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill.
On Saturday the 5th of October, His Eminence, along with Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria Damaskinos (Patriarchy of Alexandria), Clergy of the Johannesburg Diocese, as well as the Deans of the Serbian, Bulgarian and Romanian parishes participated in the night Vigil. By the end of the service, Archbishop Mark gave an interview to representative, Alexander Nechayev, of the news agency ITAR-TASS in South Africa. Thereafter, all participants were invited to a meal at the parish centre, prepared by all efforts of the congregation. The entire congregation had an opportunity to talk with Archbishop Mark and listen to Russian folk songs performed by the quartet “Brothers”, who arrived also to participate in the festivities.
On Sunday 6th of October, His Eminence Mark, Archbishop of Egoryevsk, along with Archbishop Damaskinos of Johannesburg lead the Divine Liturgy. After the service concluded – the chapel which was erected in honour of the Holy, Apostle like Prince Vladimir was consecrated. The chapel was built with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church to honour the first congregation formed in South Africa under the Parish of St. Vladimir. It was also built to honour Russian people who died during the Anglo-Boer War. Upon returning to the church, Archbishop Mark had some words of wisdom to share with the congregation. His Eminence passed on the blessing of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill – he warmly and heartily congratulated all of the parishioners with specific dates that were of significance to the congregation. He also encouraged all whom attended to follow the example of St. Sergius of Radonezh in the quest for Christian virtues of humbleness and humility. Likewise, Archbishop Mark presented a number of awards on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church to benefactors and parishioners. On behalf of the church, Priest Danil Lugovoy, presented His Eminence with words of gratitude and an icon of Patron Saints of the Russian Church in South Africa: Apostle Mark, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Holy Apostle like Prince Vladimir and St. Sergius of Radonezh.
After the service, the students of the Sunday school prepared a concert for the guests present on the day. Thereafter, an exhibition by Vladimir Hodakov “Holy Russia” was declared open. “My main theme – Orthodoxy through refraction of everything from nature to man. It is important for me to show people that all things are spiritualised and contain the spirit of God,” those were the words of Vladimir about his own work. Separately in the welcome centre of the church, pieces of children from the Sunday school were on display. Items such as mosaics, spoons and other utensils were decorated and painted by beautiful crests.
There was a general festive feast going on in the marquee setup on the premises of the church. Remembrances, greetings and memories of the key developments of the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh were spoken about. Meanwhile Russian, Ukranian and Belarusian music was playing during the course of the festivities.
With the blessing of Archbishop Mark during the celebrations, Deacon Elijah Kokin held spiritual and educational conversations with the parishioners. On Saturday, before the Vigil adult members of the congregation gather for a talk entitled “Fear of God and the Fear of man,” and on Sunday a public lecture was organised for children entitled “The road to the church”.
The celebrations were attended by about 250 people, as well as Heads and Representatives of Diplomatic Missions of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Serbia and Cyprus.