New Orthodox group holds meeting in Cape area

Saturday, July 26, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ The Rev. George Geevarghese of Louisville, Ky., conducted a service of the Orthodox Christian Mission Church on Sunday. The service was held at the Holiday Inn Express in Cape Girardeau.

A small group of Christians intends to establish a permanent mission in the Cape Girardeau area. The group of Antiochian Orthodox Christians has been worshipping with visiting priests in private homes and other temporary places, and now feels ready to reach out to the community and seek a permanent location, said the Rev. Peter E. Gillquist of Minneapolis, archpriest in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism for the Archdiocese. Gillquist will lead a public meeting at 7 p.m. Friday at the Show Me Center; the meeting is for people seeking information about the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

The closest Orthodox churches are in Royalton, Ill., and St. Louis. Gillquist said his office has found 35 families in the area who are affiliated with the church, but many people are coming to the Orthodox church from other faiths -- including himself.

Between 1960 and 1968 Gillquist, who was raised Lutheran, was a regional director for the Campus Crusade for Christ and, as a student, searched to learn how early Christians served, worshipped and governed.

"I found the church through reading church history," he said. "Most often people who become Orthodox come from an evangelical Christian background."

The church traces its roots back to Jesus' disciples in first-century Antioch. In the 11th century it split with the Roman Catholic Church.

Converts are attracted by the direct connection they find to the early church, Gillquist said. According to information provided by the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the Church of Antioch is one of the five ancient patriarchates of the Christian church along with Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Rome. The church was established by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D., with St. Peter serving for the next eight years as its first prelate.

Neither Catholic nor Protestant, "the church has an incredible history," Gillquist said.

Communion was served at the Orthodox Christian Mission Church in Cape Girardeau.

Those who learn about the church find they have missed learning much about Christianity up to the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s and 1600s.

"Protestants don't do a good teaching job from the New Testament to the Reformation," Gillquist said.

According to the Antiochian Orthodox Church Web site, about 6 million Orthodox worship in North America and 250 million in the world. Although many congregations are associated with various ethnic groups, it is all one church with one liturgy.

Before being ordained in 1987, Gillquist had earned a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and was the ghost writer for the Johnny Cash autobiography, "Man in Black." He also attended graduate school at the Dallas Theological Seminary and Wheaton College Graduate School.

335-6611, extension 160

Want to go?

* What: Establishing an Orthodox Christian mission

n When: 7 p.m. Aug. 1

* Where: Show Me Center

* More information:

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