Metropolitan Jonah Celebrates Historic Liturgy

Metropolitan Jonah

Metropolitan Jonah (file)

Last week, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the historic Wren Chapel at the College of William and Mary.

It is believed to be the first time that the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in this chapel, the oldest college building in the United States.

The nexus to Orthodoxy is auspicious in that this college was attended by Col Philip Ludwell III, the first Anglo-American convert to Orthodoxy. (Ludwell was the man who gave a young George Washington his first military commission.)

A memorial service was held afterwards for Ludwell and his family.

File this one under “you can’t keep a good man down.” (Hat tip: Eastern American Diocese/ROCOR.)

Source: ROCOR Eastern Diocese

jonah-wren-chapel-2On Sunday, March 16, at the request of the College of William & Mary’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen; former Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America & Canada of the Orthodox Church in America) celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the College’s Wren Chapel in Williamsburg, VA. He was co-served by Priest John Johnson and Protodeacon Leonid Mickle (clerics of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC).

The Liturgy, held in the colonial capital of Virginia, is believed to be the first ever Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy celebrated in the Wren Chapel in the College’s Wren Building, the oldest college building in the United States. The Wren Building is a 10-minute walk from Col. Philip Ludwell’s house along Duke of Gloucester Street, the main avenue of colonial Williamsburg. Colonel Ludwell is the first known American convert to Holy Orthodoxy.

The Liturgy was attended and supported by some seventy people, including faithful of numerous Orthodox jurisdictions from parishes in Virginia (including Williamsburg, Richmond, Culpeper, Northern Neck, and Fairfax), Maryland, the District of Columbia, and New York, with special assistance from the parish of St. John’s Cathedral in Washington and Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary in Jordanville, NY. The President of the College, W. Taylor Reveley III, took time out of his busy schedule to attend the Liturgy, at the invitation of College students and alumni.

jonah-wren-chapel-1Immediately following the Liturgy, a memorial service was held in the memory of Col. Philip Ludwell III and other members of his family who were known to be Orthodox, together with Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory on the sixth anniversary of his repose.

After the Liturgy, a reception was held, at which, with the blessing of His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York and First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Reader Nicholas Chapman delivered a presentation on his latest research into the life of Col. Ludwell and his descendants. The reception was graciously organized by Washington-area Orthodox alumni of the College of William & Mary.

Colonel Ludwell was himself a student at the College in the 1730’s, and that his father had served as rector there in 1716.

Note: In 1977, Priest George DeTrana of St. Cyprian of Carthage Church (OCA) in Richmond, VA, served Vespers in the Wren Chapel at the request of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. Any other historical information about such services would be welcomed.


  1. Tina Hovsky says

    Who cares?

  2. That was not the 1st time an Orthodox service was held in the Wren Chapel. The OCF at the College of William and Mary has held services in the Wren Chapel.
    I know we all love Metropolitan Jonah, but let’s not let that love cause us to say things that are not true.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention. As you can see from the parenthetical post-scrip, I mentioned the fact that at Vespers had been served there under the auspices of the OCF. I corrected the body of the text. –George

  3. Pere LaChaise says

    I am curious, which Metropolitan was commemorated at the great entrance and polychronion? Did anyone take note of it? That would indicate if Metr. Jonah is now serving as a ROCOR bishop or is still in the OCA.

    • Other Matthew says

      Because the release is only unofficially official at this point, he commemorated Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Tikhon, and Metropolitan Hilarion in that order as would be proper since he was serving with ROCOR clergy.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        “Other Matthew”!! To what release are you referring? And what in the world would “unofficially official” mean in standard English? Is that like “hermetically open’ or ‘Imperially democratic” or “light ebony” or “busily idle” or “electrically diesel” or what?

  4. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Pere, Metropolitan Jonah could have commemorated “All the Orthodox Patriarchs” or whatever he felt like. It would be interesting, rather, to know what Hierarch’s name was signed on the Antimension upon which the Liturgy was served.
    My question: Why was this college singled out, and is this to be a singular event or does Metropolitan Jonah perhaps intend to make such historic visits to the hundreds of other colleges and universities where the Eucharist has not been demonstrated before? Without his own diocese or flock, Metropolitan Jonah is a hierarch uniquely free to demonstrate the Eucharist like this as well as speak in any number of unique and historic venues!

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      The idea originated with W&M alumni at St. John the Baptist Cathedral (ROCOR) in DC to highlight the research of Nicholas Chapman (ROCOR Holy Trinity pubs) into Col. Philip Ludwell, whose house is in old Williamsburg.

    • Jesse Cone says

      Your Grace, what are the odds it was an OCA Antimension?

  5. ROCOR Parishioner says

    Your Grace,

    It is my understanding that there is an active OCF at W&M which includes several students who are parishioners at the DC ROCOR cathedral. Several GOAA affiliated students turned first to a local priest from the Hampton Roads area who had some difficulty arranging his schedule. The student’s from the DC area then suggested Met. Jonah who was happy to come to them and serve.

  6. ROCOR Parishioner says

    Your Grace,

    I heard that Met. Jonah served an Akathist at the College of W&M for the OCF students about a month or two ago which was very well received by both Orthodox and non-Orthodox students alike. That invitation was extended after a group of GOAA affiliated students reached out to their local priest who had trouble arranging his schedule. Several of the OCF students are parishioners at the DC ROCOR cathedral. The same group, and a number of DC area alumni, invited him again when this event was organized.

  7. “unofficially official”-that is hilarious!

    • Dear Annoyed,

      I think it beautiful that a hierarchical Divine Liturgy was served for the first time in Wren Chapel with several clergy. Having been in that church before and loved its beauty, I can enhance that memory of the space as sanctified by liturgies in our own faith, Orthodoxy. How blessed and wonderful it must have been for those present! And how great a reminder is Philip Ludwell that anyone at any time can come to the Faith!

      The OCF has always been inter-jurisdictional. So, whether official or not yet official, let us rejoice in this beautiful service in this beautiful place.

      May you have a blessed passage through the rest of the Great Fast.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Yo! No hierarchical Divine Liturgy was served at the Wren Chapel. A hierarchical Divine Liturgy follows a definite order, much fuller and more complicated than a Divine Liturgy served according to priestly rubrics. The only thing “hierarchical’ about that Liturgy were Metropolitan Jonah and his Saccos and Miter. I have no idea why he didn’t do what so many more venerable and experienced hierarchs have done in situation like that, namely, they would serve in the Phelonion (which as our icons of , for example, the Three Holy Hierarchs demonstrate,was originally the vestment of ALL hierarchs), wearing their omophorion atop the phelonion. Why, there are no subdeacons nor even dikiri and trikiri in the Wren Chapel liturgy, according to the photos,
        I hope none of the non-Orthodox present there thought they were observing a demonstration of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy!!!
        Yo, I hope you will be moved to look more carefully into the Orthodox Church and its Tradition and perhaps even become Orthodox and find Peace! During a proper catechization of six months or so, these and many other interesting points would be taught you.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Dikiri and trikiri were not allowed because they would have dripped wax everywhere. (The use of incense was also not allowed.) The Metropolitan was assisted by a reader blessed to wear the orar and fully competent to serve as a subdeacon. This reader is seen at the left edge of the second photo.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Deacon Patrick. You know how a hierarchical Divine Liturgy is served. There is a meeting. There is vesting in the middle of the congregation, subdeacons serving Deacons censing and the choir singing. The Hierarch does not go NEAR the Altar until the Little Entrance, after which the Hierarch censes. There is a seven fold singing of the Trisagion and the hierarch proceeds then to the High Place from where he gives the Peace, after which a reader reads the Apostolic lesson and then the Deacon proclaims the Gospel.
            Deacon Patrick, a hierarch may serve the Divine Liturgy according to the Priiestly ordo, not the hierarchicl ordo, as you surely know. When he does that it is not called a hierarchical liturgy even if it is a Patriarch who is serving. The saccos is not worn for such a Divine Liturgy; rather, the hierarch wears a phelonion with the omophorion over it. He may also bless with dikiri and trikiri at the Dismissal.
            The Liturgy served by Metropolitan Jonah at that chapel was not a hierarchical Divine Liturgy according to the Ordo for such.

        • Protopappas says

          Your Grace,

          It was hierarchical. Christ is always the celebrant.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            “Protopappas.’ Unless a Divine Liturgy is served according to the rubrics in the Arkhieratikon it is not called a hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church. Jesus Christ is, indeed, the Celebrant at every Divine Liturgy and, Protopappas, there is only one Divine Liturgy and it is being served in heaven, as are all our Divine Liturgies.
            Thank you for lecturing me in the elements of the Eucharist. But whoever called the Liturgy at the Wren Chapel “hierarchical” introduced disorder into the conversation. A hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church is one served acccording to the episcopal order, not the priestly order. By the way, in case you are experiencing further revelations you might want to impart to me, Every Divine Liturgy is priestly. And Christ is the Priest.
            I’d like to inform you that every Divine Liturgy is performed by the Laity, amongst which are Bishops, Priests and Deacons and so on. Being ordained removes no one from the Laos, the people of God, the Laity. Get it? Clergy are ordained laity, and remain such.
            I have no idea what got into the head of the person that described the Liturgy at the Wren chapel as “hierarchical.” No doubt this was a devout person that thought that Metropolitan Jonah serving TURNED a Divine Liturgy INTO A hierarchical Divine Liturgy. What an idea!.
            The fact that Christ is the celebrant does not make ANY liturgy “hierarchical”; rather, that is what makes the Liturgy DIVINE.

  8. Dear YO, my comment had nothing to do with OCF or that any Orthodox service being held in the Wren Chapel is problematic in any way. Please read all the comments before making any assumptions about what I’m saying. (you will see B Tikhon making a comment about the grammar of saying something like “unofficially offical”, that is what I was responding to)

  9. Do you not realize how silly you folks can sound ? Who signed the antimension or whatever? Folks we all seemed to be plagued with suspicion. Who is at the heart of the faith? Stop sniping at your fellow pilgrims.
    Let us regain our focus on Christ. There is much to do.