About Our Parish
Our Patron Saint
St. John (Maximovitch), known as St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, was born in 1896 grew up in pre-Revolutionary Russia. In 1921, amid continued rising violence and other persecution against Orthodox believers by the Bolshevik regime, he and his family escaped to Belgrade.
In 1924 he was ordained a reader, and in 1926 tonsured as a monk and renamed for St. John of Tobolsk, made a hierodeacon, and later that year a hieromonk/priest. His Bishop was Nicholas Velimirovich—a noted preacher, poet, writer, and later saint--who helped to mentor him along with Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, the primate of the Russian Synod in exile. St. John's own seminary students in Yugoslavia soon came to appreciate how he barely slept, an ascetic practice he continued for the rest of his life, without ever actually sleeping in a bed.
Archbishop Averky of the Jordanville Holy Trinity monastery, then a young hieromonk in Carpatho-Russia, witnessed the deep impression Hieromonk John made upon the seminary students, inspiring them with the high ideals of Christianity and of Holy Russia. In 1934, he was made a Bishop.
During the rest of his earthly life he was known for his healing prayers and gift of clairvoyance, his caring pastorship, and his ascetic devotion to the faith. His many labors included caring for an orphanage in Shanghai where he pastored Russian exiles, then fleeing again from communism with the orphans to the United States. He also helped to revive the veneration of the Orthodox saints of Western Europe from the first millennium.
As a bishop in his final years in San Francisco he helped complete construction of a new cathedral that had been halted by disputes, and gained a reputation as a "holy fool," which sometimes earned him criticism from the worldly. Among many, he helped mentor the American convert Fr. Seraphim Rose, whose writings on Orthodoxy would become an inspiration to many other Americans converting to the faith.
On July 2, 1966, St. John reposed in the Lord, having foreseen his death, beneath the Kursk Root icon, with which he was traveling in Seattle. Since his repose, many have sought his intercession before God for all manner of problems and have found help, as he continues through his prayers to help the Orthodox flock in America and elsewhere. He has become one of the most beloved saints of the twentieth century in the Russian Orthodox tradition, and a number of the faithful in our mission have been touched directly or indirectly in their faith lives by his legacy, to which this mission now humbly and with gratitude to God also bears testimony.
Holy Hierarch John, pray to God for us!
We are the only Russian Orthodox Christian parish in Central Pennsylvania, tracing our worship and teachings back to Byzantium and the Holy Land.
Our parish, St. John's, is an Orthodox Christian mission parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), under the Moscow Patriarchate, tracing its roots back to the various ancient Apostolic Patriarchates of the Christian Church in the first millennium. Our parish is under Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Metropolitan Hilarion of New York, first hierarch of ROCOR, and is in the Deanery of Pennsylvania under the Very Rev. Archpriest John Sorochka of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, which has recently celebrated its 125th anniversary.
Our mission was founded in September 2015 under the name Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God Russian Orthodox Mission Church, simply known as Holy Protection Orthodox Church. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the mission was to serve the Susquehanna River Confluence area of central Pennsylvania, which had no nearby Orthodox parishes, Russian or otherwise. We currently hold services in historic downtown Lewisburg near the campus of Bucknell University, and help to support the Bucknell Orthodox Christian community.
After obtaining land for a permanent location, Metropolitan Hilarion blessed a new permanent name for the parish in December of 2018 and was rededicated to St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, a prominent Russian-American bishop, missionary, writer, and wonder-working ascetic of the 20th century.
The Very Rev. Archpriest Claude Vinyard led the founding of the mission while he was also serving at Christ the Savior Church in Sugar Notch, PA, while having previously pastored many other long-time Orthodox parishes in the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region and other area regions. Fr. Claude mentored our current priest, Fr. George Sharonoff, who was ordained and given rectorship of the mission in 2019.
With help from our Diocese, two acres of open land in Winfield, just south of Lewisburg, was added in May 2019 to a two-acre cemetery parcel acquired by the parish in December 2018. St. John Orthodox Cemetery was consecrated in on St. Vladimir's Day in July 2019 by our Dean, Archpriest John Sorochka. In the meantime, the mission has been blessed with finding a suitable spot at the Lewisburg Club while plans for building a temple proceed.
Converts to Orthodoxy, those born into the Church, catechumens, and general inquirers are currently attending our parish - so no matter your background, we hope you feel at home. All are welcome to “Come and See” the ancient living tradition and beauty of Christianity, the Apostolic Church, unbroken to this day, at our worship services.
Please also consider supporting us as we move into our next phase of building a permanent temple, https://www.gofundme.com/holyprotectionmission or press DONATE at the bottom of the page to donate through PayPal.
Donations large or small are welcome, and can be made anonymously. Most of all we humbly request your prayers!
The Feast Days of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco is celebrated on June 19 o.s./July 2 n.s. (civil calendar) and Sept. 29 o.s./Oct. 12 n.s..