What kind of exchange is
In December 2000, a group of
Russian speaking Orthodox Christians from the former Soviet Union,
together with some American families, formed the Holy Protection of the
Theotokos Orthodox mission in Seattle under the jurisdiction of
the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Today we are blessed to be a parish of the Serbian Archdiocese of North and South America. Our parish provides a place
of worship according to the traditions of the Orthodox Church
with services in Church Slavonic and English. The priest, Fr
Serafim Gascoigne, a Russian speaker born in England, serves the parish
together with his Matushka and children. A former linguist
and computer author, he offers pastoral and spiritual help to all who
come to him, regardless of their beliefs.The Church, according to Fr
Serafim, is a spiritual oasis for those seeking God. “We must remember that every one is made
in the image of God and although we may think we do not have any need
for God or may not be actively seeking Him. God is seeking us”.
When a person suddenly realizes that God is seeking him, he becomes
aware that there exists a very special relationship between Creator and
man.Often in life we experience God
without knowing it. Often we hear a small voice that inspires and
directs us, especially in times of tribulation.
There are many people who respect
Christianity and even call themselves Christian but do not want to
attend a Church. In many cases they have had a bad
experience in the past. May be the priest was too demanding or
too distant or the unfortunate visitor was overcorrected by other
church members. However at Pokrov, we welcome everyone and do not
expect visitors to know how to behave according to outward form.
However to respond that small voice, to develop our relationship with
God, we must enter the community of the Church, for there we will
receive the grace of God. In this sense, the Church is not an
institution or some special club, but the mystical Body of Christ,
which feeds us spiritually, morally and physically.
The Church is a place of healing not a place of judgment. People
come with their problems which they offer to God. God in turn,
accepts their sins, their evil deeds and rewards them with eternal
Would you give someone dust and
expect gold in return?
Yet Christ blesses us and helps us
to change our lives so that we can be like Him. He made the
supreme sacrifice, offering His life for us on the Cross.
When we come to realize that the
Church is not a place of strange and meaningless rituals but a place of
healing and spiritual power, then we ourselves begin to grow
spiritually and we begin to love those around us.
We become less self-centered and
more community minded. As our relationship with God grows
we become more human in our everyday lives. An elder once said
that we are like the spokes of a wheel with God in the centre. As
we get closer to the center, to God, then we get closer to our
Never think that the Church is not the place for you. Do not
believe that you are unworthy or are not good enough to attend Church.
The Church is there for those who need healing, not for healthy
souls. I desire mercy not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6) For I did not come
to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Matt 9:13).
The priest is not a professional expert but a fellow
labourer, who has been given special gifts from God to carry out the
task of caring for souls. The priest too needs healing and above
all the support of the people if he is to fulfill his duty.
Our Lord says: “Come unto me all ye
who are heavily laden and I will give you rest”.