"Joy of All Who Sorrow" Church Hosts the Southern Deanery Conference of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York

The Southern Deanery of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, with the blessing and participation of the First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, convened in Atlanta, GA, on Friday, November 4. Participants represented the parishes not only of the Southern Deanery of the Eastern American Diocese, but from a number of other places. The pilgrims gathered in the Church of the Joy of All Who Sorrow for an akathist to the Most Holy Mother of God Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) served the Liturgy of St James, assisted by Protopriest Elias Gorsky and several deacons. The service was quite beautiful and was served in the parish church of St Mary of Egypt. Metropolitan Laurus commented on its beauty and noted that it was the first time he had witnessed this ancient liturgy performed in English. After a short breakfast the conferees gathered in the hotel conference room for the sessions.

The first lecture was that of Priest Daniel Marshall, who spoke about the missionary activities of St Innocent of Alaska, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomensk, Illuminator of America. The second lecture was presented by Dr Constantine Desrosiers, Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of New Hampshire. He spoke on the 100th anniversary of the peace concord ending the Russo-Japanese War and the activities of St Nicholas of Japan. International Russian television arrived and filmed the conference and services to broadcast to the faithful in Russia. Vladyka Laurus granted an interview and several parishioners offered commentary as well. After a lunch break, Archimandrite Luke spoke on the progress of talks between the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate. Following his talk, a round table discussion addressed many interesting questions.

That evening, all-night vigil was served in the Church of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," marking the parish's feast. Archpriest Alexis Duncan served the vigil along with Deacons Anthony Bridges, John Hanson and Zachary Rose. Metropolitan Laurus and all the clergy joined in serving the polyeleos and magnification of the Mother of God. The long lines of faithful being anointed by the Metropolitan extend until almost the end of the canon. After vigil, the conferees gathered in a casual atmosphere at a local restaurant.

The meeting of the Metropolitan for the feast began at 9:30 on Sunday. He was greeted by young people in Russian dress offering flowers and the warden presented Vladyka with a beautifully decorated loaf of bread and salt. Twelve priests, four deacons, led by Protodeacon Victor Lochmatov, and many servers participated in the majestic service, performed in Slavonic and English. His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus delivered a beautiful sermon encouraging everyone in the Christian virtues. After the sermon, a procession of the cross led the faithful to the top of the hill adjacent to the church under the peal of church bells, where His Eminence blessed the location of a new parish church for "Joy of All Who Sorrow."

After a delicious meal, there were missionary presentations by Fr. Christopher Walambusi of Uganda, and Fr. Gregory Williams speaking on behalf of the Haitian Mission. Fr Elias Gorsky made a presentation of the beautiful service books he published. Afterwards, Vladyka gave everyone blessing and they bid him goodbye. That evening, the clergy gathered at the home of the Parish Rector, Protopriest Alexis, where the ladies of the parish offered a splendid meal, accommodating friendly and animated conversations.

On Monday morning, November 7, Vladyka Laurus began the Conference by speaking about his hopes and desires in the talks between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate and listened with great interest to each clergyman as they described their parish and communal life. The clergy felt tremendous warmth and love for Vladyka. After some administrative discussions and lunch, the meeting adjourned and the clergy returned to their respective parish homes.