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Sermon About Our Church: It's History and Meaning

Given by Metropolitan Laurus on July 31, 2005

"In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

"Beloved Russian people:

"I am happy to congratulate you on the All-Russian celebration of the feast day of St. Vladimir, when we honor our Illuminator and the Baptizer of Rus. We have gathered here today at St. Vladimir Memorial Church, whose foundation was laid in 1938, during the 950th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.

"The cornerstone was laid by our Abba, Vladyka Archbishop Vitaly, and his co-laborers. Archbishop Vitaly thought that this church should remind all of us Russian people of the great work performed by St. Vladimir by his illumination of Rus with the light of the faith of Christ.

"Vladyka Vitaly, having obtained this plot of land, decided to erect a grand Memorial Church in the middle of this town, which one could call a Russian town, with its center being ROVA Farm.

"The beginning of the construction of the church began slowly. The foundation was first poured, and since war soon broke out, construction was halted. It remained undeveloped until the end of the war. Work resumed in 1948-49.

"In early 1950, pilgrimages to this place began, and divine services were performed under the open sky on the feast days of St. Vladimir.

"Gradually, the construction of the church continued, slowly but surely. After the external erection of the church, interior work and icon-painting commenced. All this lasted some 50 years. By the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, the church was finished and consecrated.

"Vladyka Archbishop Vitaly labored greatly in the building of the church, as did Vladyka Archbishop Nikon. Thank God, they had good helpers, and together they steadily completed building the church.

"Helping in finishing the interior of the church painting the frescoes was His Grace Bishop Daniel of Erie. He built the iconostasis and painted a few of the icons for it. Fr. Archimandrite Kyprian (Pyzhov) also painted the frescoes and some of the icons for the iconostasis.

"Thanks to the Lord, we now have a beautiful Memorial Church, where we gather every year to pray and mark the feast day of St Vladimir.

"Praying together with us are the founders and builders of this church, Archbishop Vitaly and Archbishop Nikon of blessed memory, who lie in repose in the lower church.

"Brothers and sisters, let us in our prayers thank the Lord for His great mercy upon us sinners, that He helped our late archpastors and all the reposed fathers, brothers and sisters in their contributions towards building this holy church in honor of the Millennium of the Baptism of the Russian people.

"Now we will commence blessing the water in memory of the Baptism of Rus. Let us try, brothers and sisters, to live by Divine Law, by the legacy of our Baptizer, for then we will be able to become the children of God, and will earn the right together with all the saints of the Russian Land and with our Illuminator, St. Vladimir, to be the heirs of the heavenly abodes. Amen."

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