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 exponentially 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, as of December 2017 the average attendance is at 40 people on Sunday morning. A fairly full cycle of services is able to be celebrated every week, a proper iconostasis is being built, and the community is now praying for a new space large enough to hold everyone for Liturgy and Social Hour on Sundays. Glory to God!

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 30A 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

We are in the midst of catechizing, baptizing, and proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Part of our growth has meant that we are in need of a larger space for worship and community life. Though we aren’t quite ready to build the permanent temple yet, this first building that we build will be converted into the community hall and possibly classrooms as well once that time comes. Below is a rough sketch of our plan at this point, and here is the link to our progress for fundraising.

5: Build a permanent church temple

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. More information and the opportunity to donate can be found on our building fund page »

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…