For members of the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, the Feast of the Nativity of Christ begins in the evening of Jan. 6, 12 days after Christmas, which is Dec. 24 on our liturgical (Julian) calendar.

Worship engages all the senses, bringing those deeper into the Mystery of God through the smell of incense, beeswax candles and oil lamps; the sound of the ringing of bells and the chanting of Psalms in ancient Slavonic melodies; and the sight of traditional iconography, the arrangement of the temple and dear friends engaged in pious prayer.

The priest and other clergy are in colorful robes or simple black cassocks. Everyone joins in singing the responses and familiar hymns as the themes take us from prophecy and anticipation into the full-blown celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

This may sound like a scene out of old Ukraine or Russia, but it’s happening right here in Waynesville, through a small community in Hazelwood.

A small but growing group of converts (none of whom are Ukrainian or Russian) pastored by Fr. Anthony Perkins, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia and a professor at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary in New Jersey, has been meeting for over a year and bringing this ancient faith to Western North Carolina.

Practiced continually since its establishment at Pentecost in 33AD, Orthodoxy has been practiced all around the world, is the second largest Christian group in the world. It is now one of the fastest growing Christian expressions in America.

The main services begin in the evening with a vigil (since, according to tradition, the day begins at sundown), then the following morning, the eucharistic Divine Liturgy is celebrated, ushering in the Fullness of Nativity. After the church service, carols are sung, the fast is broken, and folks celebrate with shouts of “Christ is Born!” to be answered with “Glorify Him!”

According to one of the clergy, Subdeacon John Cummings, “Even though Orthodoxy and Holy Resurrection have their heads and their hearts in heavenly places, our feet are well-planted on this earth. We have recently leased a much larger space (the old Music Box on N. Haywood St.), and plan to hold more services, recovery meetings, classes on Orthodoxy, perhaps a food or clothing pantry, along with our continued involvement in Haywood Pathways Center. We’re excited to bring some of the ancient faith to Haywood County, our little corner of heaven.”

The church welcomes all to join them as they grow and serve, through Christ the Lord. Direct questions about Orthodoxy or about the parish to Fr. Anthony at father.anthony@yahoo.com or visit their webpage https://orthodoxwaynesville.org.

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