St James Orthodox Church is a "mission church" of the Orthodox Church in America. We are under the omiphor of His Beatitude, Metropolitan TIKHON (Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of all America and Canada) and the arch-pastoral guidance of His Eminence, Archbishop ALEXANDER (Archbishop of Dallas and the Diocese of the South).
Our mission was founded in April of 2012 by His Eminence NIKON, Archbishop of the Diocese of New England, and who then served as our locum tenens bishop. Starting with only three families initially, St James Orthodox Church quickly set about securing a space for worship and fellowship. Today more than twenty families call St James their "home church", and Orthodox continues to grow here in the Lowcountry.
A “mission” church is essentially a church that has not yet grown large enough that it is considered to have “parish” status. St James Orthodox Church was founded in 2012. Our mission is served by a full-time priest (Fr James Bozeman) who lives in Beaufort and is the “priest-in-charge” at St James.
This is an excellent question, and one impossible to completely answer in the space of a paragraph or two. We won’t candy-coat this for you, so prepare yourself: the Orthodox Church is simply the Christian Church (also known as the “Body of Christ”) in its fullness, with nothing lacking or missing. It is the “ancient” Church, in that it draws its teaching, traditions and lineage from the Apostles (who received this from Jesus Christ Himself) and the men whom the Apostles ordained to serve Jesus Christ and His Church. It is sometimes referred to as the “one true Church”, which might seem audacious to some. But it really makes some sense to make this sort of a claim if you think about. Why would you want to be a part of any group of Christians who would deny that they are “the one true Church”? But the proof of this statement can only be experienced first hand. And so we gladly invite you to “Come and see!” What you will see is a group of imperfect people striving to become what God desires us to be: truly human. We endeavor to live the Gospel and to manifest the Gospel in the world. The "Gospel", however is not merely a set of facts or propositions, but rather it is a person, and this person is Jesus Christ.
Sure, you may find that when you come to our services, they are strange to you, especially if you come from a protestant, evangelical or unchurched background. Maybe they are long and mysterious, with the incense and the chanting and the robes and other not-so-contemporary stuff. Sure, we may not seem as “seeker sensitive” as some churches by not offering you a cup of coffee on your way in the door, but we will offer you our hand in friendship and a place to stand alongside us in order to do what we do, see what we see and get to know who we know: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Orthodox Christianity is for everyone who desires it.
You see, going to church and being a part of the Church... again, brace yourself... it’s not about you primarily. And it’s not about me primarily, either. It is about us, and how we become one in Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. This is medicine for our broken lives. And because you need this sort of medicine desperately (just like the rest of us!), we aren’t going to simply give you what you think you want, but we will freely offer you what you need, because it was first offered to us and because we need it, too. And when you visit St James Orthodox Church you are not always going to hear what you want to hear: we hope that you will (instead) hear what you need to hear. This can be painful and it can be beautiful, and we all experience this together as a community of faith in Jesus Christ, as He is made known to us in Holy Scripture and in the "breaking of the bread" (the Eucharist).
The Church is a hospital, but you’ve got to want to get well. And we all need to be healed, whether we know it or accept this fact or not. Do you want to get well?
Please join us! Come and see!