Our cups were overflowing on the afternoon of the afterfeast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos: April 8, 2014 (ns). It seems that all was prearranged by Our Lady herself in preparation for her visit by her icon. Under near-perfect weather our little space at the historic Zion Church in Brimfield was filled to capacity twice during the two Akathist services. We can only estimate, but during the 4 hours that we were “open” conservatively about 250 people from all around the region (from central Iowa to Champaign) made pilgrimage to come and each draw near to the holy Kursk-Root Icon of the Ever-Virgin. Among their number were Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Presbyterians, Unitarians, and others.
In addition to Fr. Joseph, who is traveling with the icon, we also received and prayed with several Orthodox clergy from the surrounding region:
Fr. Cyprian from All-Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Peoria; Fr. Cristodulos from St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Rock Island; Fr. Dcn Paul from St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Rock Island
Fr. Dcn David from Holy; Apostles OCA, Normal; and 3-4 others.
The first Akathist Service was served by Fr. Joseph at 3PM, assisted by Subdeacon Benjamin. A second was served at 5:15 PM by Fr. Cyprian, assisted by Fr. Joseph, Fr. Dcn Paul, Fr. Dcn. David and Subdeacon Benjamin.
Our media coverage was good. In addition to the Weekly Post announcement, the Peoria Journal Star announced our event and sent a journalist to cover it. We also received word that the event was picked up by the local WMBD news.
We are grateful His Grace Bishop Peter for his blessings, prayers, pastoral care, and for having numbered us among the destinations for this tour.
We are also to our gracious and enthusiastic hosts at Zion Church.
Most everyone I spoke with expressed a sense of pronounced well-being. Our community has clearly hungered for such an encounter with Our Lady. It is our hope that the Theotokos will, as a result of her visit, draw out those among us who are willing to approach Holy Orthodoxy and those Orthodox who are looking for a home in Holy Russia.
Subdeacon Benjamin, Warden
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission
(see add'l photos below)