During the week of the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, his grace, James, Bishop of Sonora visited Arizona and made an historic tour of the state’s northern satellite missions.
Beginning at ASONA/Christ the Savior Church in Youngtown, AZ, Bishop James celebrated the hierarchical liturgy on the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul with the local clergy and laity. Celebrants were Fr. Christopher Horsley, Fr. John A. Peck, and Dcn. Joseph Peck.
Once Liturgy was done, His Grace immediately began the journey to Show Low in the White Mountains, where was welcomed with parish girls throwing flower petals before his path up to, and into, the church building. Fr. Michael and Mka. Georgia Vallecillo with the entire community of St. Herman of Alaska gathered to welcome and greet his grace, who celebrated the Service of the Blessing of the Beginning of a Good Work, followed by a potluck dinner and a meet and greet with the people. Founded by the Hague family in 2018, St. Herman’s Church was recently granted land, and purchased a temporary building to serve as a chapel. This would mark the first time in history an Orthodox bishop has travelled to Show Low, and the first time a bishop has conducted a service there.
Pictures from the visit to St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in Show Low.
After a good night’s rest, the journey continued through the heavily wooded areas of Forest Lakes, Payson, Pine, and Strawberry, Arizona to St. Nicholas Church in Prescott Valley.
Arriving in the evening, his grace celebrated the Service for the Blessing of the Beginning of a Good Work. St. Nicholas was founded in 2019 by the Peck family. The choir masterfully sung the service with his grace, and even the altar servers (ages 6, 5, and 4) received the blessing of the bishop to serve! A potluck meal was served afterwards, and happy dinner conversations abounded. His grace stayed that night at the historic Hassayampa Inn in Prescott. This was the first time a Russian Orthodox Bishop has ever visited the Prescott area.
Pictures from the visit to St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church in Prescott Valley.
Finally, on Thursday, July 14, His Grace made the first ever Orthodox bishop’s visitation to St. Brendan’s Orthodox Church in Bullhead City, Arizona. The hour was late, the air conditioner was broken – it was 110 degrees outside, and 96 degrees inside, but in spite of it all, the parishioners welcomed the bishop with great love and hospitality. St. Brendan’s was founded by the Kelly family in 2018. A service for the Blessing of the Beginning of a Good Work was celebrated by Bishop James and Fr. Mark, and afterwards, his grace spoke beautifully about our incarnation of the Body of Christ as above, through, and over time, and our experience of God necessarily as the same. The dinner and conversation which followed were uplifting and filled with vitality.
His grace returned to San Francisco on Friday, July 15th, leaving behind a week of inspired memories for all the satellite mission communities, and confirmation of the love that is shared between us all.
Pictures from the visit to St. Brendan the Voyager Orthodox Church in Bullhead City.