Monday, October 09, 2006

A New Home for Holy Resurrection Church in Clinton, MS

An Orthodox Approach

CLINTON — With its plain white walls, crimson carpet and orderly rows of pews, the sanctuary inside the former Mount Salus Presbyterian Church might have suited most any Christian denomination.

But the congregation that bought the steepled brick building has removed many of its amenities to prepare the church for a redecorating project aimed at offering a glimpse of heaven.

"An Orthodox temple is thought of as a place of meeting God," said the Rev. Paul Yerger, pastor of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, which recently bought the building. "Sort of a cosmic meeting of God and man, of heaven and Earth."

With some 2 million believers in North America, Orthodox Christians remain a minority in the U.S.

But Orthodoxy in the South is on the rise. Over the last three decades, Orthodox churches in the southern U.S. have multiplied from a handful of congregations to more than 60 churches and missions stretching from Virginia to New Mexico.

Most churches that buy buildings once occupied by a different denomination don't need to reconfigure the space significantly to fit with their traditions. But Orthodox worship is so distinct that Holy Resurrection's move requires certain theological renovations.

Gone are the pulpit, pews and organ. The red carpeting has been stripped to reveal the tile floor. And the the white walls have been painted sky blue and earthen brown.

All of the changes help create a traditional Orthodox worship space, which is designed to help believers experience the kingdom of God on Earth.

"For Orthodox we tend to think of the church as primarily defined by worship more than anything else," Yerger said. "In our worship services we're united with Christ and the saints."

(Read it all here. Visit the website of Holy Resurrection Church by clicking here.)