History, Vision, & Goals

Our History

In the early months of 2012, His Grace, Bishop Matthias gave (then) Dn. Joel Wilson a blessing to pursue the planting of a new mission in the area of Rolla, MO in cooperation with the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Springfield, MO. After launching the effort, Dn. Joel and Mat. Tessi learned of several existing Orthodox families in Rolla, and spent most Saturdays during their year and a half at St. Thomas driving to Rolla from Springfield to hold Reader services.


The first Liturgy for the new community was celebrated on February 9, 2013, and the following August His Grace, Bishop Alexander named the new mission community “Annunciation of the Virgin Mary”. In December 2013, His Grace ordained Fr. Joel to the Holy Priesthood and assigned him as “Priest-in-Charge” of the new mission. After a miraculous series of donations, Fr. Joel and family moved to Rolla and purchased a home in the first half of 2014, and by February of 2015 members at Annunciation finished renovating a large outbuilding to use as a temporary temple, all the while holding Vespers and Liturgy each weekend.

After moving into the new temple space, the mission grew even more, and in January 2017 the mission received the OCA’s Mission Planting Grant. Thanks to the grant, the generosity of the mission’s supporters, and the dedication of the faithful at Annunciation, in December 2017 the average attendance grew on Sunday morning.

In 2020, Annunciation Mission lost nearly all of its membership. In 2021 however, the community grew even more, welcoming eight new families who moved from different states, and added four more local families to the catechumenate.

In December 2023, Subdeacon John Eller was ordained to the Holy Diaconate to serve the mission.

An increasingly full cycle of services is being celebrated every week, and the community continues fundraising and praying fervently for a new space large enough to hold everyone for Liturgy and Social Hour on Sundays.

Glory to God for all things!

A Video Background

Produced for the 2015 All American Council, themed “Expanding the Mission”, this short video provides a bit of background.

A Photo Background

Pulled from our Orthodoxy in Rolla website, here are several major milestones in the history of our community. Click on a year below to see respective milestones.

February 9 — First Divine Liturgy with Fr. Andrew Moore in the Knights of Columbus building in Rolla







August 8 — Received name of “Annunciation of the Virgin Mary” from His Grace, Bishop Alexander







December 8 — Dn. Joel ordained to the holy Priesthood and assigned as “Priest-in-charge” of Annunciation Mission







December 15 — Fr. Joel celebrates first Liturgy with mission faithful in Rolla at new Kingshighway location

January 12 — First group of catechumens are made

February 15 — Hawaiian Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Theotokos visits Annunciation mission








February 22 — Fr. Joel and Presvytera Tessi move into temporary home provided by a family in the mission

March 30 — A donor offers $8,000 and a matching funds campaign begins to raise enough to pay Fr. Joel a partial salary, allowing he and his family to purchase a home with land and an outbuilding for the new chapel.








April 20 — Mission celebrates first Pascha together







April 30 — Fr. Joel and Presvytera Tessi close on the purchase of their new home in Saint James (on St. James’ feast day!)








July 3 — Construction begins to convert garage into new chapel space














November 16 — First baptism and chrismation!

January 6 — First group of catechumens chrismated at the mission!







February 15 — Chapel renovations complete, Mission relocates to new St. James address, and a new catechumen!











Our Vision

We pray that “The Lord would firmly establish His Church in this place, that He would inspire sincere repentance to those of us who wish to be part of its foundation, that He would bring those who are seeking the true Faith, and that He would unite us all in oneness of mind for this blessed task”. This is our desire: To be firmly rooted in the repentance and healing offered to us by God through His Church, and to share this opportunity with others as well.

Our Goals

1: Save Money & Materials

This was completed in April, 2014

By the grace of God, and a miraculous series of generous donations on our fundraiser, we were able to raise funds to purchase a property with an outbuilding able to be converted into a chapel.

2: Build / buy house with land, move to Rolla

This was completed in April, 2014

By the hand of God and through the donations and prayers of several generous benefactors, the mission was able to raise enough money to pay its priest to buy a home and relocate to Rolla / St. James.

3: Build a small chapel near the house

This was completed in February, 2015

4. Be present and grow the community

For many years we focused on catechizing, baptizing, and proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. In 2021, we saw explosive growth with many new families moving to the area. This growth pushed us out of our existing space to be in need of a larger space for worship and community life (91 on St. Mary of Egypt Sunday, 2022).

5: Build a permanent church temple

We are now in the phase of building a permanent church building!

In early 2018, a building fund was established for the purpose of building a more permanent space large enough to house both divine services and social activities of the community.

In August 2021, we had Andrew Gould come and give a presentation and site plan recommendation to the community. Because of the exponential growth, in October 2023 he returned to reassess and discuss the plans for a limestone temple, and to offer a talk for our fall spiritual retreat:

We continue to pray and raise funds for the new building.

Fr. Patrick Reardon once used the analogy of a water fountain for growth at his parish in Chicago:  People were drawn to the church, entered in and learned the process of healing. Then they were sent upward and outward to refresh and offer healing to others.  The Christian community was never meant to be static, but dynamic and alive, always moving and growing.  However, growth doesn’t always mean to get larger.  The average human body goes through a time of physical growth then eventually settles at a certain size yet it continues to mature.

Our goal for a church building is similar:  Once the time comes to build, the building should be able to accommodate 150-200 people, and simply mature from there in different ways – beautifying and maintaining the temple and the grounds, directing more financial resources toward service of others, establishing ministries and local missions, etc.

6: Help plant new missions!

And reach full capacity. And establish a local social ministry. And send more people to seminary, and to monasteries, and overseas on missions, and…