The Rev. Canon Dr Duke Vipperman

I am not Eastern Orthodox. I do not speak Georgian – yet. Nonetheless, this community welcomed this pilgrim with open and understanding arms. Georgians have a reputation of sharing with Newfoundlanders the distinction of being among the most hospitable people in the world. I can confirm that to be true here. Worship is faithful to Christ and the ancient traditions. What keeps drawing me back is the intense devotion I see as well as the wonder of who comes. An immigrant to Canada myself, I have been in this country three times longer than any of the others who attend. Standing for three hours would put off most folks I know – but this tiny church is packed with resolute adoration. Often men are in the majority – and all much younger than I.. St Jude’s original building – the oldest surviving church in Scarborough – seats maybe 50-60. On Palm Sunday I am sure nearly 200 were on the property: most in the sanctuary, four rows of men crowding the entrance hallway / foyer, some downstairs, many socializing in the spacious cemetery and parking lot in order to make room inside for the others. Children are everywhere: included in worship, serving in front of and behind the iconostasis, downstairs playing, supervised outside, or at a class in St Jude’s main building. They – the children – receive the Eucharist first from the youngest to their elders. When the priest preaches, every eye is on him, every ear eager to hear what the Lord is saying through an authority from their own homeland. In Georgia the church is seen by 95% of the population as the most trusted institution in the country. These good people have brought that trust to Canada with them. Georgians also has a reputation as a singing people. The unaccompanied three part traditional chanting at Iveron Icon Mother of God Church inspires and lifts the soul. One of the chanters with his wife even teach Georgian Polyphonic Singing – a great course and I hope to sign up a second time. This is a great fellowship of welcoming believers in all Christly things. I am learning so much from them. And I worship well among them. May the Lord continue to bless their house.