Our parish has suffered a great loss at the repose of our priest, Father Mark Gilstrap, this past Monday, September the fourth. Father was the heart of our parish, and for twenty years he built up and supported our community providing for us constantly by distributing the Holy Gifts of Communion, serving as much as he physically was able, and teaching the faith.
With the blessing of Metropolitan Demetrius, our archpastor, Holy Apostle James will continue to make God’s service as much as we are able. In the short term, this will mean regular services that can be served without a priest, such as Reader’s Vespers, Matins, and Typica. We are planning and hoping that we will also be able to have visiting priests come to serve the liturgy as often as the community is able to support.
We cannot give up, but must “hold fast to that which thou (we) hast…” as is said in the book of Revelation (3:11). Father quoted this passage frequently, as it was the last message found on Saint Metropolitan Philaret’s typewriter after his repose in 1998, urging us to remember the importance of obedience and faithfulness to the church. Please, if you are interested in Orthodoxy, have visited us in the past, or are already a member of Holy Apostle James, do not lose hope but remember these things. We all need to bond together more than ever and strengthen each other to move forward. Continuing to serve, as Father always said, was essential to our salvation. We welcome anyone to come attend services and experience the truth and majesty of the Orthodox faith.
Through the infinite grace of God, we pray that Father Mark’s soul will find rest where the righteous rest and that we who remain find the strength to carry and keep the faith as Father taught us these many years. Please pray for us.
If you would like to provide support to our church, we also have a memorial fund in remembrance of Father to maintain the chapel and help provide for visiting clergy. Please mail checks to Holy Apostle James Orthodox Church, 9612 N 151 E Ave, Owasso, OK or call 918-274-9612 to make other arrangements.