Great Vespers for the Feast of St. Ignatius - 12/15/2018
By Eric Nelson
On the weekend December 14-16, 2018, St. Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Church of Twin Falls, Idaho, celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The church first opened in 1993 in the home of the late Subdeacon Benjamin Roberts where worship took place in the Subdeacon’s living room. At the time, Benjamin wanted to bring Orthodoxy to the Twin Falls area. Unfortunately, there were not any Orthodox Christians to be had, save for a few. Benjamin personally bought most of the adornments that we have today, made a few of the icon holders, and used his own home to bring Orthodoxy to central southern Idaho. Through the years, the church grew out of his home and into the local YMCA. After a time, the church grew again, and moved into a small building on Addison Avenue in Twin Falls.
After around 20 years in the Addison Avenue building, the church grew yet again into a unique position of needed a bigger space. Through the leadership of our priest, parish counsel, and generous donors, the church was able to move to its current residence with enough space to hold around 400 people. Since the move, in 2015, the church has seen many baptisms, weddings and ordinations of parishioners both born into and converting to Orthodoxy.
On Friday, December 14, His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH arrived in Twin Falls to preside over the weekend’s festivities and enjoyed an informal dinner that evening with the parish council and their spouses. During this dinner, His Eminence gave words of encouragement to the council. He told the council that there are three signs to look for within a community that signify church growth. Peace, community, and feeding the community. When people are trying to find peace in their lives, when their communities are not fulfilling them anymore, and when the people are hungry for something more. These three things produce church growth.
On Saturday morning, December 15, His Eminence met with the young adults group for a time of questions and teaching. The members asked His Eminence about the current struggles within the church in Eastern Europe, how to be Orthodox Christians with family members who do not understand, and he discussed with the group the importance of being Orthodox. Being, in a sense of wholeness, not just by doing, but through living Orthodoxy. After the meeting, the faithful hosted an open house to the public. Father Michael and parishioners facilitated tours of the church and viewings of the newest icon of the Mystical Supper in the back of the Altar. That evening, His Eminence presided over Great Vespers with Litia and Artoklasia for the feast of St. Ignatius.
On Sunday, December 16, Saint Ignatius Orthodox Church of Twin Falls, Idaho celebrated its 25 year anniversary with the ordination of Subdeacon Steven Beck to the holy diaconate, and the tonsuring of Reader Peter (Charles) McBride to the subdiaconate. After the service, a celebratory luncheon in the church hall was held. Mary Lou Panatopoulos, a founding member, recounted the early part of the church and the uncertainty that followed with starting an Orthodox Church. Father John Finley, gave his memories of what it was like when the church did not have a permanent priest. Brent Butler, a catechumen, talked about his journey from being a protestant pastor to starting the road into Orthodoxy. The newly-ordained Deacon Steven presented his story from starting Orthodoxy to becoming a Deacon through the awe and wonder of God’s mysterious workings. Father Michael praised the dedication and faithful of the beginnings of the church to what it has become today. His Eminence finished with praises to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the miraculous achievements of the church.
Saint Ignatius Orthodox Church of Twin Falls, Idaho has its eyes set on growth with the hope of one day, growing to the size of being able to build a cathedral of its own.