Letter from John

Now look what you’ve done! You made a grown man cry!

It may be hard for you to believe that one little birthday card can mean so much, but truly, I hear this all the time! Men who had sad childhoods and are long forgotten by family and friends are overwhelmed with emotion when strangers take the time to scribble “Happy Birthday” and sign their name to a card for them; to think about them for even a moment. Many list and thank everyone who signed by name. John sent two letters, one to the church and one to “Mama-Jo”,  and a card thanking us a total of a dozen times! I’ll post the one letter and the card on the bulletin board.

Last fall John found the church address on “A Timeline of Church History” brochure that he inherited from one of our participants at Alexander Correctional, where Fr. Onouphry holds monthly meetings. He wrote, but his letter got misplaced. Months later, when I finally  sent an introductory packet, he wrote me two 10+ page letters in a week! John, like many of the guys who write, has been seeking God and Studying the Bible for a long time. Finding Orthodoxy is like finding a treasure. Finding a community to pray for and who will pray for them is priceless!

New people ask a lot of questions and share  testimonies about God working in their lives. God is very present in prisons; He is working on men’s hearts! It’s wonderful to see how Orthodoxy can answer burning questions and give their time new purpose. It surely stimulates a lot of conversation!

Thank you for bringing John to tears on his birthday! Thank you for signing cards, for including John and our other participants when you pray for those in prison. Thank you for supporting this ministry with your prayers and donations.

The prayers of people like John are truly lifting our community up before God and we are truly being blessed by them.

The Bishop is Coming!

Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan is coming to our parish!

For the past month we’ve been promoting the 2018 Diaconate Boot Camp that our parish is hosting next week, starting Wednesday, May the 2nd through Sunday, May the 6th.

Joining us will be Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, along with our teachers: Archpriest Andre Papkov and Protodeacon Vadim Gan. Not only is Fr. Andre the dean of Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago, he is also the director of the Jordanville Liturgical Music School and dean of the Pastoral School. Fr. Vadim is the Protodeacon of the Synodal Cathedral in NYC.

Students, consisting of laypeople, deacons, readers and subdeacons, will be traveling from all over the US to learn the art of the Diaconate from these masters! As the weekend arrives, everyone is invited to attend the Hierarchical services: Vigil with confessions on Saturday evening, May 5th at 6:30PM and Divine Liturgy Sunday morning, May 6th at 9:40AM.


To prepare for this important event we are having a parish work day this Saturday, April 28th from 9AM all the way to Vigil at 6:30PM. Lunch and dinner will be provided by St. Nicholas.

Aside from a much needed cleaning after our Pascha celebration, we also want to get the parish and her grounds ready for the extensive filming that will be going on during the Diaconate Boot Camp. So much needs to be done and we are hoping you can make time to help us out!


  • We will focus on the interior, exterior of the temple including the grounds
  • Starts at 9AM then break for Lunch at 1:00PM
  • Continue working at 2:00PM then break for dinner at 5:30PM
  • Vigil with confession, pre-communion rule starts at 6:30PM

For more information about the Boot Camp, visit the Liturgical Arts School website.

Please Pray for Joseph

We’ve been praying for Joseph and his foster father, Bruce Morton, who was struggling with cancer. Joe called me this past Thursday evening. He was really worried because a prison employee had casually said, “You won’t be allowed to go to no wake ‘cause you’re not blood related”. Joe was confused. He thought that perhaps the family was planning ahead for when the time came because “it couldn’t have happened so soon, could it?” He was hoping against hope to see his Pops one more time and technically, because Bruce was his Guardian, Joe should have been able to go, but there would have been a lot of red tape.

While Joe was on the phone, I looked online and found the obituary; Bruce had passed on Sunday the 4th; four days had already past! By the grace of God, I was able to break the news and be there for him for the rest of our 10-minute prison-service call. I read him the obituary and it said that memorial donations should be sent to foster care and adoption service providers.  “That was Pops, always thinking about us kids!”

I told Joe how we say, “Memory Eternal”, and keep a person’s memory alive by celebrating the anniversary of their birth into Eternal Life. In the last minutes of the call, I asked Joe to share a memory. As he started, a computerized voice interrupted, saying “You have 60 seconds left for this call”. Then, half way through, “you have 30 seconds left for this call”.

Please pray for Joseph and for the repose of his “Pops”, Bruce Morton.

(April 10, 1938- March 4, 2018)

Last Sunday before Lent!


Greetings in Christ!

Tomorrow is the “Forgiveness Sunday”, the final Liturgy of the season before Great Lent, which starts at 9:40AM. Tonight, Saturday evening at 6:30PM, will be Vigil with Confessions. We encourage everyone to prepare for the Lenten season by partaking in the Mystery of Confession so that we can take Holy Communion together tomorrow at the Liturgy for Forgiveness Sunday.

Our schedule for Great Lent is also on our new website where you will find our listings for important Lenten services like the Canon of St. Andrew and the evening Vesperal Liturgies of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.

May God bless us to take full advantage of the Lenten services, and to bring our hearts to repentance on our way to the Feast of Feasts – the Resurrection of Christ, the Great and Holy Pascha!

Please Pray for Elijah

PLEASE PRAY FOR ELIJAH! He will be undergoing open heart surgery any day now.

I’m so humbled by the people I meet through this ministry. I’ve been left speechless by their humility, and earnest search for meaning. I’ve read several of Elijah’s letters in church over the years (the most recent ones are here and here), so many of you know him a little. He had been searching for God, reading the Bible, going to Bible studies; availing himself of every resource available. He knew so much but was still seeking when he found our little ministry. I sent him a picture of a group of monks and we joked how he fit right in with his long hair and beard. Orthodoxy opened a whole new world to him, and made him, a struggling sinner, feel welcome, like part of a family. He would like to be baptized and make it official.

Elijah was introduced to our ministry by Anthony, who met us though Jeremy, who learned about us through his brother Bademus, the first person we baptized in prison. That makes him 4th generation!

The men and women we meet though this work are the ones Christ came to save. They are the sinners, the lost sheep. We are blessed with this opportunity to “turn sinners back to God” just by being a friend, sharing our faith, supporting this prison ministries. In doing so, God humbles us and softens our stony hearts, helps us see Christ in our brothers and sister in prison.

May God give Elijah that new heart he is asking for, many more years on earth and , in the end, a place at His right hand. May God have mercy on us all!

God Bless you for your support and your prayers.

Trip to Tube World

Do you have cabin fever yet? We’re taking a trip to TubeWorld in Maggie Valley February 10th for the 12:00 session. This event is open to all St. Nicholas parishioners and anybody else who might be interested in a really good time. Some of us went there today the snow is high and the tubes were fast. You can find more information about Tube World here.

Contact John Cummings, Reader Abraham or Reader Aidan for details. We’re working on transportation and there is some money available to help you if you are in need. Otherwise, it’s $25.00 per person.

New schedule, Nativity Services and News

Full Nativity schedule and new weekly schedule

This Weekend is Nativity!

Come and celebrate the birth of Christ at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. Our service schedule is Friday morning (1/6) at 7:00AM for Royal Hours, this Saturday night (1/6) at 6:30PM for Vigil and Sunday morning (1/7) at 9:40AM for Divine Liturgy. Afterwards we will break the fast with a festive pot-luck meal!

NEWS UPDATE: A new schedule for 2018 starts this week with Tuesday night Compline in Waynesville at the Cumming’s house and Wednesday night Vespers starts back up in Fletcher in the Church. As always, check our calendar on the front page of the website for any last-minute changes.

Trapiza help needed!

At this time, we have a real need for people to help out and commit to a trapeza team. If you are a regular at trapeza and enjoy it week after week, please consider getting involved in a team. The food doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, and if the team members communicate, a well-planned meal with plenty of variety can be had. Also, if someone isn’t able to bring food, at least commit to be part of a team and help with the clean up. Please email John Cummings at [email protected] or catch him at Church and let him know that you’ll be willing to commit. Brush off those cooking and dishwashing skills and let him know when you can help.

New Bookstore for 2018

Thanks to Tabitha and Ignatius, our bookstore is restocked and redesigned! Come and see our new selection of books, icons and other items.

New Website for 2018

Thanks to Samuel, we finally have an updated website that has everything from daily scripture readings, parish news, full service schedule, past sermons, pictures and recordings of our choir. This website will continue to develop over the next few weeks.

Building Project 2018

We are well on our way to finally building our new Church! We will be adding a new section to the website soon giving updates as we progress!

Letter from Sergius

Three or four years ago, Sergius was baptized by Father Onouphry at Alexander Correctional. Soon after his baptism, Sergius was moved to another prison, and has been moved several times since. Sadly, this happens all the time and our brothers in Christ are kept from the sacraments.

If you know of a priest anywhere in NC or the surrounding states that has, or might be interested in prison ministry, let me know. There is a great need all across the state and the country. We have participants in several states as well as NC.

Take part in this good work by donating toward printing and postage for the Good NewsLetter. Our donation jar is on the candle stand. Donations can also be made by credit card or check. Be sure to specify “St. Dismas Prison Ministry” and to let Mary-Jo know that a donation has been made!

Thank you for supporting this good work!

Letter from Joe

Joe is 34 and serving a life sentence that started 12 years ago. He went into foster care at 10 years of age and his foster father has stuck with him through thick and thin. He visits him, and sends him a few dollars each month.

Joe has been getting our Good NewsLetters for close to 10 years. When he was at AxCI he attended meetings with Father Onouphry, and he knows several others in the group. But he is alone at this new camp. He has had immense struggles.

I can’t help but feel blessed that Joe reaches out to our prison ministry and asks for the prayers of our church community. Please support this good work with a donation toward printing and postage, and keep our participants, like Joe, in your prayers.

Letter from Fernando

In our last mailing we included the Timeline of the Church. This glossy informational pamphlet was very well received by our participants. Fernando was one of many who sent a card to thank us. See his card on the bulletin board.

Take part in this good work by donating toward printing and postage. Our donation jar is on the candle stand. Donations can also be made by credit card or check. Be sure to specify “St. Dismas Prison Ministry”!
Thank you for supporting this ministry!