“What would happen if each of us who has experienced resurrection joy…if, forgetting about large numbers, we were to transmit this joy and faith to just one other person, were to touch just one other human soul? If this faith and joy were secretly present in every conversation, even the most unimportant, in the sober realities of our daily life, they would immediately begin here and now, today, to transfigure the world and life. Christ said, ‘The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed.’ (Lk 17:20). The Kingdom comes with power, light, and victory, each time I and every believer carry it with us from the church into the world, and begin to live it in our own life.” A. Schmemann, Celebration of Faith, (SVS Press), Vol 2, p. 128.
Founded in 1964, St Gregory’s now marks over 50 years as the only fully English-speaking Orthodox parish in the Hudson Valley between Albany and the Tappan Zee. We are a "regional parish," with our membership in the wide dispersed over five counties, numerous school districts and on both sides of the Hudson our daily ministry transcends the bounds of one municipality. Our diversity of ethnic and church backgrounds is a great gift, along with the strength of our church council leadership and the strong sense of belonging of the whole parish community. The community gathers around the Liturgy, as well as the great feasts of the church year. It also making pirogi and other fine foods, bakes nut and poppy seed rolls and Easter breads. Of the proceeds from the Christmas Food Fair and other sales, a significant amount goes to local outreach such as meals for the hungry at The Lunch Box in Poughkeepsie, also Dutchess Outreach and St. Basil's Academy, among other care providers.
The parish has always been blessed with families and children, with older members and with many who for reasons of employment come and go. There are talented and enthusiastic teachers, musicians, bakers and cooks. We are blessed with lay leaders who choose fraternal respect over votes as the means of resolving issues. We believe that the basis of our harmony is the insistence on the priority of our gathering at the Mystical Table, the heart of the Eucharistic life.
Five pastors have served the parish: Frs George Timko, Pitirim Stehnach, Thomas Hopko, since 1978, Fr Alexis Vinogradov, with Fr Michael Plekon attached since 1996 and Fr. Stephen Evanina beginning as rector in 2015. Over the last almost forty years, the parish became a regular site of internship for seminarians, with over twenty having served over the years.
In 1963 the founding families, many of whom today remain the active and faithful core, desired to establish an exclusively English-speaking parish which would celebrate and proclaim the life in Christ to all who came in peace, without distinction. The parish was established in 1964 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. The result has been a mini-UN-in-Christ. Our founders’ foresight is evident today not in any special programs but rather in that joy of the Kingdom one finds everywhere--from parish picnics to the meals after funerals, baptisms and every Sunday, the coffee hour after liturgy. St. Gregory's is not just a beautiful sanctuary and church hall, but a community that knows and lives "the power of Love" that is the only rule in the church.
We are God's people. We are the Body of Christ. We are brought together by the Holy Spirit.
We are a community of Orthodox Christians in Wappingers Falls, New York.
We are a part of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey of The Orthodox Church in America.
- The Church in the Bible. The Orthodox Church goes back to our Lord Jesus Christ, His Apostles and the first Christians. When we read of the Church in the Scriptures, we know that we are part of that same Church.
- The Church of the Bible. Jesus Christ, our teacher, is the Word of God (John 1:1). We listen to, live by and learn from His words, from the teachings of His apostles and prophets, and from the record of God's people in the Scriptures.
- A Church of Tradition. We inherit our belief and practice from the early days of the Church throughout history. Saints defended this faith and martyrs died for it. We continue this faith and practice in our present day and age.
- A Church of History. Since our church goes back to the first centruy, our rich history reflects that. The Orthodox Church is not a newcomer to America, either. It first arrived in Alaska in 1794. Our community in Wappingers Falls was founded in 1964.
- A Church of the Cross. Crosses are everywhere in our church, from the large crosses on our roof to the small crosses we wear around our necks. These are all reminders that "we preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23). Christ gave us a new commandment, "that you love one another; even as I have loved you" (John 13:34). His love for us was expressed by doing this on the cross. This self-sacrificing love is what we strive to have and share with the world.
- A Church of the Resurrection. "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14). We frequently say "Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!" and we mean it. Every Sunday is the Lord's Day, when we celebrate the Resurrection and experience the Risen Lord. Our annual celebration of the Resurrection on Easter is truly a sight to behold.
- A Liturgical Church. "Liturgy" means "common work of the people" and our worship is truly the work of God's people. Our forms of worship go back centuries; they unite us to our past, are relevant today as ever, and move us toward the Lord's coming.
- A Sacramental Church. God acts in our lives. The Sacraments bring God's sanctification to our entire life.
- A Eucharistic/Thankful Church. As Christians, we always thank God for everything He has given us, both known and unknown. Our central act of worship, celebrated every Sunday, is known as the Eucharist, Greek for thanksgiving. In this, we partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
- A Praying Church. We take the apostle Paul's directive "pray constantly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) to heart. We have several services each week. In everything we do, we pray and ask God's blessing.
- A Church of Sinners. This may come as a shock to some, but "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Jesus has fellowship with sinners and said that "those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). Therefore, our church is a community of sinners. We often stumble, sin and fall short of what God expects, even as a community. Each of us struggles with this sinfulness and treis, with God's help, to repent, get up and try our best to walk in communion with God.
- A Church of Diversity. God "desires all to be saved and to some to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). Our community is formed of people young and old, single and married, from many walks of life and occupations, and from all parts of the globe. Some were raised as Orthodox Christians and others became Orthodox later in life. Embracing these differences, we are united by our common faith in God.
- A Church of Healing. We all have wounds and scars from life's journey. The church is a spiritual hospital where we meet our Divine Physician, Jesus Christ.
- A Sensory Church. God created the whole person, so our worship of God engages the whole person and all the senses. The sight, sound, taste, touch and smell of our liturgy involves the believer and brings us into an awareness of God's presence.
- An Active Church. Our holistic approach to worship extends to all parts of our church's life. Activities and opportunities for fellowship and fun are part of what we do as a congregation.
- Small... In a Good Way! We are not a large community. We are not a "mega-church. We are a family in our church and we do not want anyone to get lost in the crowd.
- A Friendly Church. The Apostle Paul said, "do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2). We welcome each and every person who comes into our midst, invite them to fellowship and serve them to the best of our ability.
Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). We exist to proclaim Christ's Good News in our small part of the world, both repeatedly to ourselves and to those around us.
We preach the Gospel through word and action, as we have received in our Orthodox tradition through:
- our public liturgical worship and praise of God, especially through the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist);
- teaching, both worship (Scripture readings, hymns, sermons) and in educational settings (lectures, classes, discussions);
- service to others, both in our local community and in the world-wide community.
We seek to "worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23).
We constantly strive to reevaluate ourselves against the Gospel and grow in our Christian life.
By living the Gospel in this way, we seek to follow Christ's directive: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
We invite all others to give glory to our Heavenly Father and to share our life in the risen Christ.
Our basic beliefs are expressed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, compiled by the first two Ecumenical Councils (meetings of Christian leaders from throughout the world) in the years 325 AD and 381 AD.
Everything we say, pray, sing, preach or physically do in our church exists to share and explain our Faith.