Bishop Maxim Celebrates St. Peter the Apostle Church Slava

petrovdan 437It was an already warming midsummer morning in California’s Central Valley when Bishop Maxim arrived at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Fresno, California to celebrate the Parish’s Slava the first Sunday after the commemoration of the Holy, Glorious and All Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul.  His Grace was warmly welcomed by Parish Priest Father George Gligich and entered the church with a procession of more than half a dozen cheerful acolytes, Parish Deacon John Davis censing, and the beautiful voices of a full choir.  Then the Hierarchical Liturgy continued with great energy.  The assigned Gospel reading, in which Christ admonishes us to first seek the Kingdom, found a special place in the hearts of the faithful this day.  His Grace gave an inspiring sermon that drew each person in attendance to reflect on the fundamental truths of our life in Christ – that we are called always to love first and especially so in times of trials.  Following the sermon and consecration of the gifts, many shared in the Eucharistic celebration.  

After the Liturgy, His Grace led the faithful around the church as the choir sang the Troparion for the Feast while the Festal Icon, devotedly adorned with flowers of red, blue, and white, together with the Kolac and Koljivo were carried by honored Kuma Ala Spolsdoff, and her daughters Katherine and Allison.  The procession stopped at the fountain to the east of the Church and at the front doors in the west where special Gospel readings in remembrance of the confession and faith of St. Peter were proclaimed.  Immediately upon reentering the church, the bread and wheat were blessed, with His Grace greeting our Kuma, parish council officers and all the children who had gathered in the center of the church with the customary salutation “Christ is in our midst!” 

A banquet followed the services where several families of the parish lovingly prepared and served a delicious meal of grilled lamb and vegetables, rice pilaf, salad, and a variety of cakes.  His Grace radiated with joy in greeting each of the children that came to his table to welcome their dear Bishop and receive a blessing.  Church Board President Jason Epperson expressed the sentiments of the entire parish when he spoke of the delight of having our vladika present at such an important event in the life of the church. By the time the banquet concluded, it was already well into the afternoon.  Bishop Maxim, however, would not leave before playing a game of basketball that he promised to the boys, many of whom served as acolytes earlier that morning. 

Indeed, it was a day when all knew the grace and power of God and the fullness of our church as embodied in our unity with our beloved episkopos. 

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