This month our parish marks an important event: the 70th anniversary of its founding. On September 11, 1949, the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, St. John of Shanghai celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the first time with the newly established Washington community.

          The liturgical life of our parish began with this liturgy, served in the humble setting of a small private apartment. Later, services were held in the Resurrection chapel in the lower part of the National Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, and then in our own house chapel. The lower part of the church was built in 1958. The structure was subsequently completed, and in 1988 was consecrated. Now, glory be to God, we offer communal prayer in a magnificent temple, raised up through the efforts of many people, both our living parishioners and those who have since departed for a better world.

          Through the grace of God, over the past seven decades, many tears of repentance have been shed in the Mystery of Confession. There have been many Baptisms, many Rites of Matrimony, and many parishioners and non-parishioners have been escorted into the Life beyond the grave. In other words, those who have been in our temple have communed of God’s bountiful grace.

          Many wonderful and heartfelt words will be pronounced in connection with our jubilee. In this essay, I would like to direct the attention of our pious readers to something else. Seventy years ago, St. John of Shanghai entrusted a small group of Russian Orthodox people in Washington to the protection of St John the Forerunner, the greatest among those born of women (Luke 7:28) and the “friend of the Bridegroom” (John 3:29).

          St. John the Baptist received and accepted from God the task of final preparations, of preparing mankind to receive Christ. In the person of John was expressed the highest degree of human effort, the effort to comprehend the will of God, and having comprehended it, to carry it out. It is with reason that the Lord says: “...from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11: 12).

          St. John the Forerunner understood more clearly than did others that before entering the ocean of Divine Love, one must descend into the water of repentance, the waters of Baptism.

          What can and should we glean from the example given us in the life and death of the first among those born of women? We should first of all acquire a thirst for the appearance of the Lord, His appearance in our lives, a thirst to know the will of God as it relates both to the general direction of our life and to all of our works.

          Then, we must remember that the initial, essential step toward meeting the Lord is repentance and cleansing. St. John the Baptist proclaims to us: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

          Repentance is the concrete rejection of all that interferes with our living in a godly manner. St. John suffered for pointing out to Herod his obvious sin. For wanting to save Herod, St. John paid with his life.

          What about us? We must first and foremost struggle to save ourselves, to battle to the death against the evil within us. Only then will we be shown how to save others.

          May St. John the Baptist and Forerunner of Our Lord help you, by his prayers, in this vitally important work.

          My congratulations, dear friends, on the Feast and the 70th anniversary of the founding of our wonderful parish!

          With Love in Christ,

Archpriest Victor Potapov


Address of our Cathedral

  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000

Email        webmaster@stjohndc.org



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