With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God Mission, a ROCOR parish, will hold its first Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 11 a.m., in St. John’s Lutheran Church, at Route 304 and Stein Lane, Dry Valley, in the greater Lewisburg-Winfield area.
Services of this American Orthodox mission are in English, with the Very Rev. Archpriest Claude Vinyard appointed as Acting Rector by Metropolitan Hilarion. Holy Protection is the first Orthodox parish to be started in Union County, as part of the worldwide Orthodox Church, which began in Apostolic times and includes the ancient Patriarchates of the Holy Land and Eastern Mediterranean. Holy Protection is a mission parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), under the Moscow Patriarchate, which traces its origins to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the other ancient Apostolic Patriarchates of the original Christian Church in the first millennium.
Russian Orthodoxy first came to North America in the 1790s in Alaska and the West Coast, and then became established in Pennsylvania’s coal and steel country with immigration of Slavic peoples in the 1800s and later refugees from communism, leading to the formation of the ROCOR Eastern Diocese, of which Holy Protection Mission Church is a part, with Metropolitan Hilarion as also diocesan bishop. The mission in Union County is an outgrowth of the renewal and outreach program of Christ the Savior Church (ROCOR) in Sugar Notch, PA (near Wilkes-Barre), and is a part of the Eastern Diocese’s Pennsylvania Deanery, which is led by the Very Rev. Archpriest John Sorochka of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA, one of the oldest Orthodox parishes in Pennsylvania. Our Acting Rector, Archpriest Claude Vinyard, previously has served in many long-time Orthodox parishes in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
Holy Protection includes families of diverse backgrounds and ages, including both converts to Orthodoxy and those born Orthodox. All are welcome to come and visit and experience the ancient Liturgical life of the Christian Church in Orthodox form, and to learn about the living tradition of the Apostolic Church. Initially, services will be held on two Sundays each month, starting with Sept. 13 and 27. Please feel free to contact us for more information at
At a time when ancient Christian communities in the East are under severe persecution, and of rising secularism in the West hostile to traditional faith, many Americans of all backgrounds are turning to the Orthodox Church as the living safe harbor of the tradition of the Apostolic Church today. The Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in Orthodox tradition is known to intercede for the faithful with Christ our God in times of severe trial, from the Byzantine era to those of communist and fascist persecutions, into the present. May the Most Holy Mother of God intercede for the protection of us in Union County and our American land, to her Son the Lord Jesus Christ our God!
For more of an introduction to the Orthodox Church, please see these three short videos: