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The Life of St. Innocent of Alaska
Icon written by Fr Luke Dingman
Icon written by Fr Luke Dingman
Icon written by Fr Luke Dingman
Our father among the saints Innocent of Alaska, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of North America (1797-1879), was a Russian Orthodox priest, bishop, archbishop, and Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. He is known for his missionary work, scholarship, and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 1800s. He is known for his great zeal for his work as well as his great abilities as a scholar, linguist, and administrator. He was a missionary, later a bishop and archbishop in Alaska and the Russian Far East. He learned several native languages and was the author of many of the earliest scholarly works about the natives and their languages, as well as dictionaries and religious works in these languages. He also translated parts of the Bible into several native languages.
 
His Life
St. Innocent, né Ivan (John) Evseyevich Popov-Veniaminov, was born on August 26, 1797, into the family of a church server in the village of Anginskoye, Verkholensk District, Irkutsk province, in Russia. His father died when John was six.
In 1807, John entered the Irkutsk Theological Seminary. In 1817 he married, and on May 18, 1817 he was ordained deacon of the Church of the Annunciation in Irkutsk. He completed his studies in 1818. He was appointed a teacher in a parish school, and on May 18, 1821 he was ordained priest to serve in the Church of the Annunciation.
 
At the beginning of 1823, Bishop Michael of Irkutsk received instructions to send a priest to the island of Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Father John Veniaminov volunteered to go, and on May 7, 1823, he departed from Irkutsk, accompanied by his aging mother, his wife, his infant son Innocent, and his brother Stefan. After a difficult one-year journey, they arrived at Unalaska on July 29, 1824.
 
After John and his family built and moved into an earthen hut, he undertook the construction of a church on the island and set about studying the local languages and dialects. He trained some of his parishioners in construction techniques and with them undertook the construction of a church, which was finished the following July.
 
Father John's parish included the island of Unalaska and the neighboring Fox Islands and Pribilof Islands, whose inhabitants had been converted to Christianity before his arrival, but retained many of their pagan ways and customs. Father John often traveled between the islands in a canoe, battling the stormy Gulf of Alaska.
 
His travels over the islands greatly enhanced Father John Veniaminov's familiarity with the local dialects. In a short time he mastered six of the dialects. He devised an alphabet of Cyrillic letters for the most widespread dialect, the Unagan dialect of Aleut and, in 1828, translated the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew and other church materials into that dialect, which were eventually published in 1840 with the blessing of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1829, he journeyed to the Bering Sea coast of the Alaskan mainland and preached to the people there. In 1836, his travels even extended to the south, to the Ross Colony north of San Francisco and to the Spanish missions of northern California. At Ross Colony he conducted services at its small, wooden chapel.
 
In 1834, Father John was transferred to Sitka Island, to the town of Novoarkhangelsk, later called Sitka. He devoted himself the Tlingit people and studied their language and customs. His studies there produced the scholarly works Notes on the Kolushchan and Kodiak Tongues and Other Dialects of the Russo-American Territories, with a Russian-Kolushchan Glossary.
 
In 1838, Father John journeyed to St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, and Kiev, Ukraine, to report on his activities and request an expansion of the Church's activities in Russian America. While he was there, he received notice that his wife had died. He requested permission to return to Sitka. Instead, it was suggested that he take vows as a monk. Father John at first ignored these suggestions, but, on November 29, 1840, made his vows. He chose the name Innocent in honor of Bishop Innocent of Irkutsk.
 
On December 15, 1840, Archimandrite Innocent Veniaminov was consecrated Bishop of Kamchatka and Kuril Islands in Russia and the Aleutian Islands in Russian America. His see was located in Novoarkhangelsk, which he returned to in September 1841. He spent the next nine years in the administration of his see as well as on several long missionary journeys to its remote areas. On April 21, 1850, Bishop lnnocent was elevated to Archbishop. In 1852, the Yakut area was admitted to the Kamchatka Diocese, and in September 1853, Archbishop Innocent took up permanent residence in the town of Yakutsk. Innocent took frequent trips throughout his enlarged diocese. He devoted much energy to the translation of the scriptures and service books into the Yakut (Sakha) language.
 
In April 1865, Archbishop Innocent was appointed a member of the Holy Governing Synod of the Church.
On November 19, 1867, he was appointed the Metropolitan of Moscow, replacing his friend and mentor, Filaret, who had died. While there, he undertook revisions of many Church texts that contained errors, raised funds to improve the living conditions of priests and established a retirement home for priests.
 
Innocent died on March 31, 1879. He was buried on April 5, 1879, at Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra.
 
Glorification
On October 6, 1977, the Church of Russia, acting on the official request of the Orthodox Church in America, proclaimed Innocent a saint. His feast day is celebrated twice a year -- on October 6 and March 31.
 
In 1994, during excavations on the grounds near the Holy Ghost Church at the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, St. Innocent's relics were discovered and are now venerated by the faithful both in Russia and America.
 
Hymns
Troparion (Tone 4)
O Holy Father Innocent
In obedience to the will of God
You accepted dangers and tribulations
Bringing many peoples to the knowledge of truth.
You showed us the way,
Now by your prayers help lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven.
 
Troparion (Tone 2)
You evangelized the northern people of America and Asia,
Proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the natives in their own tongues.
O holy hierarch Father Innocent,
Enlightener of Alaska and all America, whose ways were ordered by the Lord,
Pray to Him for the salvation of our souls in His Heavenly Kingdom!
 
Kontakion (Tone 2)
A true celebration of the providence and grace of God
Is your life, O holy father Innocent, Apostle to our land.
In hardships and dangers you toiled for the Gospel's sake
And God delivered and preserved you unharmed.
From obscurity He highly exalted you as an example
That the Lord truly guides a man in the way he should go.
 
Kontakion (Tone 2)
Your life, O holy father Innocent, Apostle to our Land,
Proclaims the dispensation and grace of God!
For laboring in dangers and hardships for the Gospel of Christ
You were kept unharmed and exalted in humility.
Pray that He may guide our steps in the way we should go.
 
This complete section is taken from http://orthodoxwiki.org/Innocent_of_Alaska

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Don't Stress, be our Guest!
If this will be your first time in an Orthodox Church service you may feel a little overwhelmed. Orthodox worship is ancient, unchanging, and very unfamiliar to the average American. With that in mind, we encourage you to relax. No one is able to "get it" know what "to do" in their first visit. Simply pray, let the words of the scripture wash over you, and if you have any questions, at the end of the service feel free to ask.  
 
We love kids!

St Innocent enthusiastically pursues our mission to nurture our precious children in the Orthodox Christian faith. From our church school students to the littlest one in arms, you'll find a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for children during our services. Our parents understand that it can be a blessed struggle to raise children properly in the Christian faith, and that includes worship! At St Innocent, you will find a supportive family to help.

The Sacraments of the Church, such as Holy Communion, are offered only to Baptized and/or Chrismated (confirmed) Orthodox Christians.  However, all are invited to receive the blessed bread at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.  The blessed bread is not sacramental but is reminiscent of the agape feast that followed worship in the ancient Church.

After the Divine Liturgy, all are welcome to join us in the Church hall for fellowship and light refreshments.

Please know that we are here to serve you.  If you are interested in learning more about the Orthodox faith we frequently have Newcomers classes throughout the year.  If you have any further questions or concerns please contact Fr. Theophan and let him know.  

Orthodox worship can seem strange to someone who has never been to an Orthodox Church before. However, we belive that our worship must be in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24).

Our worship is Biblical

Orthodox worship is rich with scriptures -- not just the reading of the scriptures, but from the hymns to the petitions, everything we do in worship is based on scripture. The Book of Psalms is often called the Hymnbook of the Church, and we sing and read a lot of them! Orthodox Christians often memorize many Psalms simply from hearing them so often in our worship services. 

However, you'll not only hear scripture, you'll see it. The patterns of Orthodox worship, based in the Christian fulfillment of Jewish liturigical worship, is most fully a manifestation of descriptions we read about in the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews and in the Book of Revelation. We join into the worship that is eternally sung before the throne of God (Isaiah 6).

You'll also see that Orthodox Christians stand a lot during worship. While there are chairs and pews, able-bodied Orthodox Christians prefer to stand in worship, because they are in the very Presence of God!

The Sacraments Give Us Life

We participate in the new life of the Kingdom of God through the sacraments (mysteries) by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, we die and rise with Christ (Romans 6). In the Eucharist, we are sustained by Christ's Body and Blood (John 6). In Holy Anointing, our sins are forgiven for healing (James 5). Each sacrament is the way faithful Orthodox Christians participate in the Divine Life given to us as a gift here and now, and as a foretaste of our eternal inheiritance.

Icons

The most distinctive feature of Orthodox Churches is their use of iconography or holy images. Simply put, icons testify to the truth of the incarnation of Christ. He became a man, and therefore He can be pictured. Orthodox Christians would say, in fact, that He must be pictured. Otherwise, we can easily forget that He became a real human for our sake, and that He came to redeem humanity. He is, indeed, the God-Man, fully divine as the eternal Word of God (John 1). But He became truly human, like us in everything but sin (Hebrews 4).

We kiss the icons of Christ, His Mother, and the Saints, not out of idolatry (God forbid!), but out of honor. The honor we show passes to the person whose image is depicted.

The Sign of the Cross

You'll see Orthodox Christians trace the sign of the cross on their bodies frequently. This is the traditional way in which we bless ourselves, and in which we are blessed by others. Making the sign of the cross is one of the most ancient practices of Christians, and it is the sign par excellence of Christianity.

Singing

Orthodox Christians love to sing! Our singing is always unaccompanied by any musical instruments. This is another sign that our worship is joined to the heavenly choirs with the angels and all the saints who gather around the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Join in!

We want you to feel welcomed during our services. While Orthodox worship may seem somewhat unfamiliar, we believe fully and without reservation that Orthodox worship is the way worship is supposed to look like. This is worship as it was always meant to be. Discovering it for the first time has been an overwhelming sense of joy for people around the world, and we hope you'll come to discover that too.

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Lenten Retreat

This year we have Archpriest David C. Rucker coming to visit us and speak about having vision in the Christian life.  This retreat will be broken down into three sessions. 

Saturday @ 2 pm: Session I: My Vision for 2021
Saturday @ 4 pm: Session II: The Vision of our Parish

Sunday @ 12:30 pm: Session III: Living out the Vision in our home and parish

All are welcome. BYOB (Bring your own Bible), Pencil/Pen/notebook or paper, and a statement of “Mission” for your life.

More info will be posted as it comes available. This event will be held in person as well as a private link online for those who may need it. 


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Small Parish Forum

Fr. Theophan and Molly Croft participated in the Small Parish Forum in Toledo, OH. 


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St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrating 20 years in Middle GA

On Saturday and Sunday, September 3/4, St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrated 20 years since our founding in Macon, GA. His Grace Bishop Alexander was with us for the celebration. On Saturday we started with a Moleben of Thanksgiving followed by an informal get together and finished with Great Vespers. On Sunday we served the Hierarchial Liturgy. Three readers were tonsured and a Diocesan Gromata was given. It was a beautiful weekend. May God continue to grow and establish our humble church!


00000
image
Lenten Retreat

This year we have Archpriest David C. Rucker coming to visit us and speak about having vision in the Christian life.  This retreat will be broken down into three sessions. 

Saturday @ 2 pm: Session I: My Vision for 2021
Saturday @ 4 pm: Session II: The Vision of our Parish

Sunday @ 12:30 pm: Session III: Living out the Vision in our home and parish

All are welcome. BYOB (Bring your own Bible), Pencil/Pen/notebook or paper, and a statement of “Mission” for your life.

More info will be posted as it comes available. This event will be held in person as well as a private link online for those who may need it. 


00001
image
Small Parish Forum

Fr. Theophan and Molly Croft participated in the Small Parish Forum in Toledo, OH. 


00002
image
St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrating 20 years in Middle GA

On Saturday and Sunday, September 3/4, St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrated 20 years since our founding in Macon, GA. His Grace Bishop Alexander was with us for the celebration. On Saturday we started with a Moleben of Thanksgiving followed by an informal get together and finished with Great Vespers. On Sunday we served the Hierarchial Liturgy. Three readers were tonsured and a Diocesan Gromata was given. It was a beautiful weekend. May God continue to grow and establish our humble church!


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