On Wednesday, April 6, the clergy and parishioners of Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Harrisonburg, VA marked another milestone as they work to construct a new temple. Parish rector Priest Gabriel Weller blessed the new cupola and cross before a crane placed them atop the future church.
In 1996, Orthodoxy came to the Valley of Virginia in Harrisonburg. This was the time that Archpriest John Moses and his family became Orthodox, which began a lifelong campaign for the Moses family. Fr. John worked the crowds at every opportunity to enlighten people about the treasure of Orthodoxy. His quick wit often startled strangers who happened to find themselves in the presence of this great fisherman, whose love of God radiated from his face. I was one of those folks lured into the net. This encompassing love that radiated from his heart was real!
Being a ROCOR priest and holding a secular job kept him busy as he labored to grow God’s Church. His family’s sacrifices were enormous. The Moseses just could not contain that spark that energized their soul. With little money, they settled in a small town south of Staunton and repaired an abandoned Lutheran church, sinking whatever they could scrape up to repair that old building. Little by little, the new small mission began to convert folks, and the seeds of Orthodoxy slowly spread. Being somewhat secluded in that small town proved to be cumbersome and a hindrance to growth as a mission church.
Having experienced broken or incomplete love in my own life, I began to heal and thirst for something more, something authentic and not limited by the sinful failures of man. I found that in Orthodoxy. I found that through the teachings of the Church and the powerful traditions. I found that through my priest, Fr. John Moses.
I was ordained to assist Fr. John and to plant a second mission back in Harrisonburg. Harrisonburg has an active refugee population for folks resettling and the city is supported with numerous colleges. We believed that our best opportunity to stabilize our community and grow the True Faith in the Valley was there. Closing the property in Middlebrook in 2013 and investing ourselves in Harrisonburg, we found an abandoned orthodontist’s office and began to serve there. We have been saving and raising money all these years to build an Orthodox church to serve our community and welcome more people. Last year, we were able to purchase 7.9 acres just outside the city limits on a busy road with a view on the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Fr. John embodied the great commandment "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20). Fr. John struggled with illness for years, hiding his difficulties and pain from us. Unable to attend church for some time, he was able to serve and deliver his last plea of love to his flock. Four days later, he succumbed to his bodily illness on July 25, 2019. Fr. John did not live to see his dream come true. Can you help complete his vision?
With this enormous task, we have been whittling away at preparations for this new church. We have paid an architect and engineer and submitted plans to the county. We have been working diligently with manufacturers and builders to determine the best path to complete this new Orthodox church.
As we prepare to move forward, the industry costs associated with building are skyrocketing. Lumber prices have jumped over 30% in just the last month and excavation estimates have risen much higher than last year. Our little congregation does not have the means to finance this huge project on our own. Can you help? It is Fr. John’s dream to build an Orthodox church in this bible-belt Protestant area. It is Fr. John’s dream to be able to offer people the fullness of Christianity, which can only be found in Orthodoxy! Can you help Fr. John build this church and spread Orthodoxy?
We cannot stay in the orthodontist’s office much longer. The city is enforcing building codes that our little rented office cannot meet. Our landlord will need us to move soon and we simply do not have an alternate place to worship. The city’s enforcement of stricter building codes has eliminated all other possibilities in the city and surrounding areas.
We need your help to keep the Moses dream alive and help our mission, Holy Myrrhbearers, to have a home of our own! We need to break ground this fall and secure our future here! Any donation made with love for Christ and His Church will multiply and your prayers are also greatly coveted! A onetime donation or small $20- or $30-dollar donation monthly will move us to safety. We also offer the "Golden Donation" of $1,000, which will put one Orthodox person’s name in our "Golden Donation Book" which we will perpetually commemorate at each and every Liturgy as long as the parish exists!
Priest Gabriel Weller
Those who would like to contribute financially to the construction of the temple are asked to send their donations to:
Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Church
P.O. Box 2032
Harrisonburg, VA 22801