City Paper is not for tourists
RECTOR: the Rev. Victor Potapov
CONGREGATION SIZE: 300 families
SERVICE LENGTH: 113 minutes
ALTAR BOYS: 5
PERCENTAGE OF FEMALE PARISHIONERS IN SHAWLS OR HATS: 73
NUMBER OF ICONS: Too many to count
CRYING TODDLERS: 0
CONGREGATIONAL FERVOR: Upon entering the cathedral, parishioners kiss select icons and cross themselves. Potapov refers to iconography as “a theology in color” and “a window into heaven.” “Icons are a very good way of reminding us that there is eternal life, another realm,” he says.
FOOD FOR THE SOUL: Potapov elaborated on the parable of the keepers of the vineyard, from the book of Matthew. The story describes the way Christ addressed the problem of contemporaries who inherited the Promised Land and, after a century, began to take it for granted. “We should remember the Earth belongs to God as well as us,” says Potapov of the parable. “We’re just the caretakers, the stewards.”
FOOD FOR THE BODY: The Orthodox church requires members to fast in order to receive the body and blood of Christ. Holy bread was available for those who did not take this step.
OVERALL WORSHIP POWER RATING: St. John the Baptist deserves acclaim for being a physically fit
congregation. Parishioners stand for the majority of the service—about two hours—but six benches are available for the frail. “We don’t have pews on [the notion] that in the presence of the King of Kings, we stand as a gesture of humility,” says Potapov.
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.