There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
PASTOR: the Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian
SUNDAY ATTENDANCE: 47
SERVICE LENGTH: 121 minutes
SAMPLE WORSHIPPER DRESS: Taupe business suit with floral-patterned shoes
NUMBER OF VENERATED ICONS: 5
BIGGEST VENERATED ICON: a 1-and-a-half-by-2-foot Madonna and child painted in 18th-century Eastern Europe
MIDSERVICE PHONE RINGS: 1
Parishioners exchange the Kiss of Peace as they enter the church. This is a phantom kiss on each cheek, during which the initiator says “Krisdos mer mech Haydnetzav,” which means “Christ is revealed among us.” The recipient responds with “Orhnyal eh Haydnootyoonn Krisdosee,” which means “Blessed be the revelation of Christ.”
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
Be advised: The majority of the service, or Holy Badarak, is in Armenian, with the exception of the sermon. On a recent Sunday, Kalayjian, who had just returned from a two-week trip to Armenia, held forth on Chapter 2 of Mark, in which Jesus heals a paraplegic by saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Kalayjian says the root elements of miracles are trust and faith; Jesus saw the paraplegic’s true faith.
FOOD FOR THE BODY
A downstairs reception included coffee, watermelon, crackers, cheese, croissants, cantaloupe, and chocolate cake.
OVERALL WORSHIP POWER RATING
St. Mary treats worship as theater, from the giant deep-red curtain that covers the altar to pleas of fault and remorse that would make Harold Pinter feel at home. Take the confession and absolution prayer: “Woe to me. Woe to me. Woe to me. Which of my misdeeds shall I recount? Which shall I confess? For my sins are innumerable. I have sinned against God.”
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.