Saint Thomas the Apostle Mission Parish Celebrates First Divine Liturgy in New Church Building

WALDORF, MD --- On Sunday morning, June 26, 2011, the faithful of our diocesan mission parish of Saint Thomas the Apostle in Waldorf, Maryland celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the first time in their recently completed church building.

Father Joseph Edgington, Pastor, the faithful of the parish and their guests began the day with Matins at 8:45 in the chapel (actually former garage) of the 'house church' where they have been worshiping since the first Sunday of 1999.

At the conclusion of Matins the clergy and faithful processed to the new church building nearby while singing the Tropar and Kondak to their patron, Saint Thomas. Once inside the new building the cantors and people began the censing hymn for the Divine Liturgy. Incense rose for the first time in the altar and nave, mixing with the scent of freshly cut wood in the heavy timber-framed church.

Nearly one hundred souls were present to celebrate the Liturgy together in the new facility. The parish's three 'resident' cantors were joined by St. Thomas' founder and benefactor, the Reader Andrew Single, who, several years after the establishment of St. Thomas, moved back to his home town of Windber, PA, where he continues to offer his talent as a cantor at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church.

It is the custom of this 'commuter parish' to share a meal and visit together in the basement 'fellowship hall' of the house church after the services. Many families travel for long distances to take part in the Liturgy, and several of them volunteer host this 'agape meal' on a rotating basis. On this Sunday the group overflowed from the fellowship hall into an adjoining church school classroom and out onto the patio. Before the meal Father Joseph offered a toast and gave a brief history of the mission parish from its formal establishment in 1992 to today's opening of the new building. During that period the parish has moved from its birth in the Single's family room to a conference room in a Days Inn for a year, then five years in a strip mall storefront, twelve years in the 'house church,' and today, finally moving into a temple designed, built and dedicated for the sole purpose of giving glory and thanksgiving to God.

Architect Michael Pellegrino, Father Joseph and several members of the parish building committee visited many Orthodox churches in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, western Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, including our diocesan churches of Ss. Cyril and Methodios at Camp Nazareth and Holy Trinity in Danbury, CT. In addition, diocesan Archon and architect Joseph Parimucha and his wife, designer Barbara Huelat Parimucha, freely offered consulting services before and during the construction process.

The final design is loosely based on – believe it or not – its namesake church of Saint Thomas the Apostle at the All Saints Church Camp in Emlenton, Pennsylvania. The design of the Waldorf church was reviewed and approved by +His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory and diocesan building committee chairman Father Kenneth Bachofsky during the 2009 Sobor in South Bound Brook, NJ. Several who have seen photographs of the new building, including +His Eminence's brother George Smisko, have commented that 'there is a lot of Metropolitan Nicholas in that church.' And they are so right!

Father Joseph and the faithful of Saint Thomas invite all of those traveling or living in the Washington, DC area to visit them at 4419 Leonardtown Road, Waldorf, MD 20601.

Finally, we take this opportunity to thank so many friends from across our God-saved diocese for their encouragement and generous gifts during the design and construction of this beautiful new house of worship. May God grant you many years!