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DIOCESE OF CHICAGO AND DETROIT: June 5, 2006

Bishop Peter of Cleveland Officiates at the 25 th Anniversary of the Priesthood of Protopriest Anthony Nelson

On May 28, the Sunday of the Blind Man, His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland officiated at Divine Liturgy at St Benedict Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, along with the Parish Rector, Fr Anthony Nelson, and Deacon Vadim Gan.

At the appointed moment in the service, in accordance with the decision of the Synod of Bishops, His Grace elevated Fr Anthony Nelson to the rank of protopriest for his many years of service to the Holy Church.

After Divine Liturgy, His Grace addressed the worshipers with an archpastoral sermon and congratulated the Rector on his anniversary, expressing gratitude to him for his pastoral labors and wishing him health and Divine help in his continued service.

The celebrations concluded with a reception honoring Fr Anthony attended not only by his parishioners and admirers, but priests from the local Antiochian, Constantinople and American Orthodox Churches. Fr Anthony thanked the guests for their kind attentions. In his ending speech, Bishop Peter once again congratulated Fr Anthony, and also shared his experiences at the IV All-Diaspora Council and the Council of Bishops, and talked about the present relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. His Grace also explained various rites and traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Fr Anthony is the founder of the Oklahoma City parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the end of November 1983. Despite the fact that this church is in the middle of the so-called American "Bible Belt," where Protestant and other sects actively proselytize, Fr Anthony has achieved remarkable results in his missionary work. On Sundays and holidays, some 100 worshipers attend services, of whom a third are Russian immigrants, and the rest Orthodox Americans. Divine services are conducted in English and Church Slavonic.

We wish Fr Anthony and his flock Divine mercies and blessings for many years to come!