Receiving a grant for its second year is Saint John of Chicago Mission, Rogers, AR. Served by Archpriest John Wehling, Saint John’s was planted as a “mission station” in May 2011.
“Our first services were held in the basement of a parishioner’s home, which was just the right size to accommodate our small group,” Father John explained. “In October 2011, we moved to a location in the Prairie Creek community, just east of Rogers, AR. Through the dedicated efforts and contributions of our parishioners, we were been able to make this space beautiful, despite of the limitations of being located in a strip mall. We purchased the building at our current location in February 2015 and, after an extensive renovation, moved in on April 1, just in time for Holy Week.”
Granted “mission status” in August 2012, the community was named in honor of Saint John Kochurov, who was responsible for building Chicago’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral and for planting several other communities in such diverse locations as Streator, IL; Buffalo, NY; and Hartshorne, OK before he returned to Russia in 1907.
“Our desire as a parish is to love and serve the people of Northwest Arkansas, imitating Saint John in his love, service and missionary zeal,” Father John added.
The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Mission, Saint James, MO, was awarded its third year grant. Tracing its origin to 2012, the mission was planted in cooperation with Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, Springfield, MO.
“After launching our missionary effort, my wife and I learned of several Orthodox Christian families in the Rolla, MO area, and for one and one half years we spent most Saturdays driving to Rolla from Springfield to celebrate Reader Services,” said Priest Joel Wilson, at that time a deacon. “Our first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on February 9, 2013, and we were named in honor of the Annunciation the following August.”
In December 2013, Deacon Joel was ordained to the priesthood and assigned “Priest-in-Charge” of the fledgling community.
“After a miraculous series of donations, my wife, Matushka Tessi, and our family relocated to Rolla in early 2014,” Father Joel continued. “By February 2015, our faithful had finished renovating a large outbuilding to use as a temporary temple.”
With the Wilsons’ move into the area, Annunciation began to grow exponentially, and in 2017 it received a Church Planting Grant for the first time.
“Thanks to the grant, the generosity of our supporters, and the dedication of Annunciation’s faithful, by December 2017 the average attendance increased to 40 souls on Sunday mornings,” Father Joel added. “A fairly full cycle of services is now celebrated weekly. And we are now praying for a new space large enough to hold everyone for Liturgy, social hour and other services and events.”
Qualifying Church Planting Grant missions receive grants—$24,000.00 for the first year, $20,000.00 for the second year, and $16,000.00 for the third year—which must be matched by mission faithful for the purpose of supporting the full-time ministries and missionary outreach of their assigned priests. Granted missions pursue the development of robust stewardship plans to ensure their ongoing growth after they “graduate” from the Planting Grant program.