History, Vision, & Goals
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.
The following video was taken on the drive down to St. Thomas in Springfield from seminary in June, 2012, two years before Fr. Joel and family purchased a home and moved to Rolla / St. James. Interestingly, this video ends right at the exit for Hwy V, the exit to take to come to the church:
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 to an average of 40 people on Sunday morning.
In 2020 due to the Covid shutdowns, Annunciation Mission lost nearly all of its membership.
In 2021, the community exploded, welcoming eight new families who moved from different states, and added four more local families to the catechumenate (for a total of 27 catechumens at one time). One of the members of the families who relocated to St. James is in training for the diaconate, and another has taken on the position of choir director, both attending various trainings and workshops for ministry in the church.
On the Great Feast of Pentecost 2023, attendance broke 100 for the first time with 116 people. Attendance is now regularly between 90-105 on a Sunday morning, with more than 65 children under the age of 16. An increasingly full cycle of services is able to be celebrated every week, and the community is now 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!
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.
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.
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 is returning to reassess the plans for the temple and possible housing community around the new temple.
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…