Holy Wisdom Orthodox Mission

A parish of the Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the West

1355 North 4th Street • Grand Junction, CO 81501
(Corner of North 4th Street & Kennedy Street)

970-689-4777 • holywisdomorthodox@gmail.com

  Who is
Our Metropolitan?
Who is
Our Bishop?
Who is
Our Parish Priest?
Who are
Orthodox Clergy?
Who is our Metropolitan?
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada
His Beatitude Tikhon Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada was born in 1966, the eldest of three children born to Francois and Elizabeth Mollard.

After brief periods living in Connecticut, France, and Missouri, he and his family settled in Reading, PA, where he graduated from Wyomissing High School in 1984. In 1988, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Sociology from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, after which he moved to Chicago.

In 1989, he was received into the Orthodox Church from Episcopalianism and, in the fall of the same year, he began studies at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA. One year later, he entered the monastic community at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery as a novice.

He was awarded the Master of Divinity degree from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary in 1993, after which he was appointed Instructor in Old Testament and subsequently Senior Lecturer in Old Testament, teaching Master level courses in the Prophets and the Psalms and Wisdom Literature. He also served as an Instructor in the seminary’s Extension Studies program, offering courses in the lives of the Old Testament saints, the liturgical use of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament in patristic literature.

He collaborated with Igumen Alexander [Golitzin] – now Bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America – in the publication of “The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain” by Saint Tikhon’s Seminary Press.

In 1995, he was tonsured to the Lesser Schema with the name Tikhon, in honor of Saint Patriarch Tikhon, Enlightener of North America. Later that year, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate and Holy Priesthood at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery. In 1998, he was elevated to the rank of Igumen, and in 2000, to the rank of Archimandrite.

In December 2002, he was named Deputy Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery. After his election to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of Bishops in October 2003, he was consecrated on February 14, 2004 at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery Church as the first Bishop of South Canaan, auxiliary for the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Following his nomination as ruling hierarch by a diocesan assembly and subsequent canonical election by the Holy Synod on May 27, 2005, he was installed as Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania on October 29, 2005. From 2005 to 2012, he also served as Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. He was elevated to the dignity of Archbishop on May 9, 2012.

On November 13, 2012, Archbishop Tikhon was elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at the 17th All-American Council.

In addition to his primatial duties along with archpastoral oversight of the Archdiocese of Washington and Stavropegial Institutions, he served as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South from March 2015 to March 2016.

On September 14, 2015, Metropolitan Tikhon was honored by St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary with the bestowal of a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa.

Who is our Bishop?
His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin was born Vincent Peterson in Pasadena, California, on June 1, 1954, and was baptized and chrismated at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles, California, on April 27, 1972. In 1978 he was awarded a Master of Divinity degree and Certificate in Liturgical Music from Saint Vladimir Seminary.

A prolific musician, he served as choirmaster at parishes in Detroit, Michigan, and Los Angeles and as chairman of the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Liturgical Music. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on November 15, 1987 by Bishop Tikhon at his home parish, which he served for 10 years as deacon and youth and education director. The following year he was tonsured a riasophore monk by Bishop Tikhon and further tonsured to the lesser schema by His Eminence, Archbishop [later Metropolitan] Herman at Saint Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, Pennsylvania. In 1991 he was elevated to the rank of archdeacon.

On July 19, 1997, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Tikhon. In 1999, Igumen Benjamin was transferred to the Diocese of Alaska. In addition to other responsibilities, he served as dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral and later as administrative dean of Saint Herman Seminary, Kodiak, Alaska. He was elevated to the rank of archimandrite in 2002. In January 2004 he was reassigned to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles, and appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of the West.

Upon his consecration to the episcopacy, Bishop Benjamin began to serve as Auxiliary to His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco, and served as Diocesan Chancellor.

At the January 31, 2007, Special Diocesan Assembly, His Grace was unanimously nominated as a candidate for The Office of Diocesan Hierarch. The nomination occurred during this special convocation at Saint Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the direction of The Most Blessed Herman, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of all America and Canada, Locum tenens, Diocese of the West.

The Holy Synod of Bishops, in their 2007 spring session, elected His Grace Bishop Benjamin to be the reigning hierarch of The Diocese of the West. He was installed as ruling bishop on October 2, 2007. At the 2012 spring session, the Holy Synod elevated the bishop to the dignity of Archbishop.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, the site of His Eminence’s consecration and installation, is the oldest Orthodox community in the contiguous United States.

Archbishop Benjamin and Our Priest, Father Benjamin

Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco

Who is our Parish Priest?
The Reverend Benjamin Huggins
Father Father Benjamin is a graduate of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, located in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Mátushka Lauren, are the parents of five children.

Father Benjamin was raised in the Protestant tradition, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Ministry Leadership at a Protestant liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Returning to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs he then attained a Master’s Degree in Special Education.

He taught in Colorado Springs for six years before he and his family moved to Pennsylvania where he graduated from Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, located in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

His conversion to Orthodox Christianity was a gradual and carefully-considered journey. During his high school years, the study of his own family faith tradition led him to begin researching differences among the various Protestant denominations. While at college in Pennsylvania, his reading of Church history brought him to appreciate the traditional and liturgical form of Christian worship. Canaan, Pennsylvania.

Our Priest, Father Benjamin Huggins
While living in Colorado Springs, Colorado he and his family were introduced to Orthodox Christianity and began attending worship services at Holy Theophany parish. They found the Orthodox Church to be the unaltered New Testament Church, which followed the exact faith taught by Jesus Christ, preached by the Apostles, and maintained unchanged for two thousand years.

Wealizing that the Orthodox Church has produced countless saints, including innumerable martyrs who suffered and died for the Orthodox faith, they knew they had “seen the true light and found the true faith,” and they were committed to find salvation in Orthodox Christianity. Following a period of formal learning, or catechesis, they were received into the Church in 2004.

Actively practicing and experiencing the Orthodox faith daily, he felt guided and eventually called by his spiritual father to the priesthood. He moved his family to Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania and was awarded a Master’s of Divinity Degree in 2013.

Following Ordination, Father Benjamin was first assigned to Holy Prophet Elijah Orthodox Mission in Durango, Colorado. While serving as the parish pastor, he was also a special education teacher in the Durango School District.

In 2018 Father Benjamin was reassigned by Archbishop Benjamin to Saint Andrew parish in Delta, Colorado.

Who are Orthodox Clergy?
Orthodox Clergy comprise three “Orders”: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons

Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is the only Priest, Pastor, and Teacher of the Orthodox Christian Church. He alone guides and rules His people. He alone forgives sins and only through Him are we united with God: the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is our faith as Orthodox Christians.

The New Testament of the Holy Bible also clearly states that Jesus Christ “set aside” and ordered His Apostles to “Go ... and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Apostles, in turn, “laid hands” on men to be “episkopoi” (overseers, bishops) and “presbyters” (elders, priests) as we read, for instance in Titus 1:5 and 1:7. They likewise “laid hands” on men to be “diakonoi” (deacons) as rerecorded in Acts 6:1-6.

The exact same three “orders” of clergy – bishops, priests, and deacons – continue to exist in the Orthodox Church in an unbroken succession directly to the Apostles and Christ Himself.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has never abandoned His people, and remains present and active with His Church as its living and unique Head through the Holy Spirit. This is also our faith as Orthodox Christians.

The New Testament of the Holy Bible clearly records the “confession of faith” by Saint Peter the Apostle, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Then Jesus Christ confirmed this confession saying, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

Orthodox Christianity proclaims that “the gates of hell” have never, and will never, prevail against the unbroken and unchanged faith in Jesus Christ. Nor can they prevail against Him and His Body, the Church.

The principal task of Orthodox clergy is to preserve intact and maintain unchanged the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles and preached throughout the world by the Apostles and their successor bishops for 2,000 continuous and unbroken years.

The objective guarantee of the perpetual presence of Christ with His people exists in the three “Holy Orders” of the Episcopacy (bishops), the Presbytery (priests) and the Diaconate (deacons). They are Sacramentally “ordained” by the Holy Spirit in the “Holy Mystery of Ordination.”

This Mystery (Sacrament) is also referred to as “Holy Orders,” from the fact that the bishops, priests and deacons give order to the Church. They guarantee the continuity and unity of the Church from age to age, and have no other function or service than to manifest the presence and action of Christ in the Holy Spirit to His people. As the Apostles received the special gift of God to go forth and to make Christ present to men, they “laid hands” on their successors as overseers (bishops), presbyters (priests), and deacons to manifest Christ’s presence and action in the Churches.

Each Eucharistic community, which today we refer to as a “parish,” is under the direct Apostolic oversight and administration of a bishop. A bishop may have few or many parishes under his Apostolic authority. The bishop assigns a priest to a parish as an extension of his priestly ministry, and may also assign a deacon to carry his administrative role.

The “Episcopacy” or the “Order of Bishop”ur
The bishop is the first and highest degree of the clergy in the Orthodox Church (επίσκοπος or episkopos in Greek, which means “overseer”). A bishop is the direct successor to the Apostles in the service and government of the Church. The bishop thus serves εἰς τόπον καὶ τύπον Χριστοῦ ([in place and as a type of Christ{) in the Church. No bishop in Orthodoxy is considered infallible. None has any authority over or apart from his priests, deacons, and people or the other bishops. They have the responsibility of maintaining the unity of the Church throughout the world by insuring the truth and unity of the faith and practice of their diocese.

The bishop represents his particular diocese to the other churches or dioceses, and represents the Universal Church to his own particular priests, deacons, and people.

In the Orthodox Church, from about the sixth century, it has been the rule that bishops are single men or widowers. Bishops are also usually in at least the first degree of monastic orders.

It is the belief of Orthodoxy that Christ is the only priest, pastor, and teacher of the Christian Church. He alone forgives sins and offers communion with God, his Father. Christ alone guides and rules his people. Christ remains with his Church as its living and unique head. Christ remains present and active in the Church through the Holy Spirit.

Through the sacrament of holy orders bishops give order to the Church. Bishops guarantee the continuity and unity of the Church from age to age and from place to place, that is, from the time of Christ and the apostles until the establishment of God’s Kingdom in eternity. Bishops receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to manifest Christ in the Spirit to men. Bishops are neither vicars, substitutes, nor representatives of Christ. It is Christ, through his chosen ministers, who acts as teacher, good shepherd, forgiver, and healer. It is Christ remitting sins, and curing the physical, mental, and spiritual ills of mankind.

This is a mystery of the Church.

The ruling bishop or diocesan bishop is responsible for and the head of all the parishes located in his a particular geographical territory, called a diocese or archdiocese. All authority of the lower orders of clergy is derived from the bishop. No divine services may be served in any Orthodox temple without the authorization of a bishop. Saint Ignatius the God-bearer of Antioch went so far as to state that “he who acts without the bishop’s knowledge is in the devil’s service.”

Sacramentally, all bishops are equal. Nevertheless, there are distinctions of administrative rank among bishops.

  • Patriarch: This title is reserved for the primate of certain of the autocephalous Orthodox churches. The first hierarch of the other autocephalous churches are styled metropolitan or archbishop or archbishop.
    The primate of the Church of Constantinople assumed the title Ecumenical Patriarch. The primate of the Church of Alexandria was granted the title Pope and Patriarch. The primate of the Church of Georgia amended his title from Catholicos to Catholicos-Patriarch.
  • Archbishop or Metropolitan: These titles may be granted to a senior bishop, usually one who is in charge of a large ecclesiastical jurisdiction. He may or may not have provincial oversight of suffragan bishops. He may or may not have auxiliary bishops assisting him.
    In the Slavonic and Antiochian traditions, a metropolitan outranks an archbishop. The reverse is the situation in the Greek tradition. The Antiochian tradition also uses the style metropolitan archbishop to differentiate from metropolitan bishops in the Greek tradition.
    The change in the Greek tradition came about in later Greek history, because the diocesan bishops of ancient sees (which in the Greek diaspora include most) came to be styled metropolitans, short for “metropolitan bishops.”
    The Slavonic and Antiochian churches continue to follow the older tradition, where an archbishop is a senior bishop in charge of a major see, and a metropolitan is a bishop in charge of a province which may include a number of minor and/or major sees.
    In the Greek tradition, all diocesan bishops of autocephalous churches such as the Church of Greece (the bishop of Patras being Metropolitan) are now metropolitans, and an archbishop holds his title as an indication of greater importance for whatever reason.
    The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is the notable exception in the Greek practice where diocesan bishops carry the title of metropolitan. In other churches under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia the ruling bishop is the archbishop while the other bishops are auxiliary bishops with titles of the ancient sees.
  • Non-Ruling Bishops: A bishop who does not rule his own diocese is either a Patriarchal Vicar or an Auxiliary Bishop.
  • Patriarchal Vicars: In the Church of Antioch, a bishop who is in charge of a newly-created diocese on behalf of, and under the supervision of, the Patriarch of Antioch is called a Patriarchal Vicar. The diocese is usually kept under the direct control of the patriarch until it becomes self-supporting. Patriarchal Vicars are not members of the Holy Synod, and do not answer to the Holy Synod. When a diocese becomes self-supporting, it is usually granted a ruling bishop who becomes a member of the Holy Synod The equivalent title in some Orthodox jurisdictions is Exarch.
  • Auxiliary Bishops: Most Orthodox Churches allow themselves the capacity to appoint auxiliary bishops to assist ruling bishops within their own dioceses or archdioceses. Auxiliary bishops do not govern in their own right but only act as directed by their diocesan bishop.
  • Titular Bishops: Bishops who are assigned a title of ancient dioceses that no longer function are called titular bishops. The Diocese of Sourozh, the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in Great Britain and Ireland, is an example. However, generally, titular bishops are auxiliary bishops.
Priest Share the post "Priest" FacebookTwitter russianpriestPresbyter is, in the Bible, a synonym for bishop (episkopos), referring to a leader in local Church congregations. In modern usage, it is distinct from bishop and synonymous with priest. Its literal meaning in Greek (presbyteros) is “elder.” Presbyters, or elders, are mentioned very early in the life of the Church in the Book of Acts and the Epistles. It is evident that in each place a Christian community developed, elders were appointed by the Apostles to pastor the people. As time passed, presbyters were referred to in the short form of the word as “prests”, then as “priests”, in full view of the fact that the Old Covenant priesthood had been fulfilled in Christ and that the Church is corporately a priesthood of believers. Priests are the leaders of the local communities of believers in mission, parishes, hospitals, educational institutions and the armed forces. Their heroic, sacrificial lives place the presence of Christ and His holy Church in the midst of the world, the nation, and the local society. They bring the fullness of the Gospel to their preaching. They preach, teach, make disciples, train others up in the faith so that they may evangelize the world and build up the Body of Christ. As St. Paul says of himself, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more… I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23 This is the essence of the priesthood: To win souls to Christ, to preach the Gospel, to teach the Orthodox faith, to sanctify the faithful through the Holy Mysteries and spiritual direction, and to sacrifice themselves in love as Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church. The priest was not understood as an intermediary between God and the people, nor as a dispenser of grace. It was the role of the priest to be the presence of Christ in the Christian community, laying down his life for his flock, as did Christ. And in the very capacity of being the presence of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the priest was to shepherd the flock of God. Ordination Through the Mystery of Holy Orders, an ordination of a deacon to the priesthood is performed by the bishop. The priest is ordained after the Cherubic Hymn and Great Entrance so that he may, on the day of his ordination, participate in the consecration of the Holy Gifts at the altar. Duties A priest ministers to the people of God in the stead of the bishop. This includes: Preach the Gospel; Celebrating the Divine Liturgy, and other liturgical services; Teach and disciple those souls desiring to advance in the spiritual life and discipleship; Impart the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful; Celebrating baptisms, marriages, funerals and other Mysteries of the Church. Usually, a priest will Pastor a parish, including pastoral ministry and preaching Hear confessions. In some jurisdictions, this is allowable immediately; in others, being a confessor is something a bishop invites a priest to undertake. It should be noted that a priest’s conduct does not inhibit the grace of God acting through them. Christ is the one who gives grace, merely using his ministers as ‘conduits’ to the people. Deacon Share the post "Deacon" FacebookTwitter protodeaconThe Deacon is the first step of the major orders of clergy in the Orthodox Church, following the bishop and the presbyter. The word deacon (in Greek διάκονος) means server and originally it referred to a person who waited on tables. In the Orthodox Church, the diaconate is not just a step to priesthood, many deacons have no intention of ever becoming priests. The diaconate itself is a permanent office, as a position for full or part time service to the work of the Church. Originally deacons of the Church assisted the bishops in good deeds and works of charity. But at some time in recent centuries the diaconate became an almost exclusive liturgical function where the deacons only assist at the celebration of the Church services, helping in other areas like any other knowledgeable member of the laity. Sacramentally, all deacons are equal. However, they are ranked and serve by seniority according to the date of their ordination. Just as with bishops and presbyters, there are distinctions of administrative rank among deacons. A senior deacon of a cathedral or principal church may be awarded the title protodeacon and claim precedence when serving with other deacons. The chief deacon who is attached to the person of a bishop is called an archdeacon. A deacon who is also a monastic is called a hierodeacon. All higher clergy, priests and bishops, must first be ordained and serve as deacons. Because Christ came not to be served, but to serve, so, too, all those who receive the grace of the Holy Spirit to Holy Orders must, likewise, pass through their service as deacons. Ordination A deacon’s ordination takes place after the consecration of the Holy Gifts during a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, by virtue of the fact that he does not participate in the consecration himself. After being led around the altar thrice, he kneels on one knee at the altar to await the laying on of hands. His first liturgical act is the final Litany of Thanksgiving before the dismissal of this Liturgy. Deacon’s vestments FrDcnAlexisWashington The vestments of the deacon are the sticharion, the orarion, and the epimanikia. All degrees of clergy wear the sticharion. The sticharion is a long-sleeved tunic that reaches all the way to the ground. It reminds the wearer that the grace of the Holy Spirit covers him as with a garment of salvation and joy. For deacons, the sticharion has wide sleeves and is made of a heavier fabric than that of the priest and bishop, who wear their sticharia under other vestments. The distinctive vestment of the deacon is the orarion. The orarion is a narrow band of material that the deacon wears wrapped around his body and draped over his left shoulder. It represents the grace of the Holy Spirit that in ordination anoints the deacon like oil. It is the principal vestment of the deacon and without it he cannot serve. When the deacon leads the people in prayers or invites them to attention he holds one end of his orarion in his right hand and raises it. The final parts of a deacon’s vestments are the epimanika. The epimanikia are cuffs that are worn around the wrists, tied by a long cord. These are also worn by the bishop and priest. They serve the practical purpose of keeping the inner garments out of the way during the services. They also remind the wearer that he serves not by his own strength but with the help of God. Only those in major orders wear the epimanika. Duties The deacon ministers to the priest and bishop in the divine services. This includes: Preaching the Gospel of Christ (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop) Assisting in the celebration of the all of the Holy Mysteries of the Church Leading the people in the collective prayers (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop) Reading from the Scriptures during the divine services (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop) Keeping the decorum of the public worship, including calling people to attention at appropriate times Any tasks of the subdeacon or reader Administrating the charitable and/or educational work of the Diocese, Deanery/Vicariate or Parish Other tasks related to Church life, with the blessing and direction of his priest or bishop. In some jurisdictions, a deacon may be blessed by his bishop and parish priest to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful, either from a second chalice at a regular liturgy where a priest is serving or in connection with a typika service that is celebrated when the priest is absent. What a deacon does may depend on jurisdiction – some consider the diaconate as a short interval before the priesthood – but, where permanency or longevity in the diaconate is prized, deacons will often head educational programs and youth groups, perform hospital visitation, missionary work, and conduct social welfare projects. Deacons wear a cassock; this is done as a sign of his suppression of his own will and desires, and his canonical obedience to God, his bishop and the liturgical and canonical norms of the Church. Deacons are also permitted to wear the exoraso (or riassa). In jurisdictions that utilize clergy shirts, deacons generally wear a clergy shirt with collar. During services, the deacon is usually vested in a sticharion with an orarion that hangs over the left shoulder; with the exception of around the consecration of Communion, when the deacon will, for practicality, arrange his sticharion like a subdeacon. In addition, to complete his duties, the deacon is permitted to touch the Table of Oblation, the Altar, and to move through the Royal Doors. The place of a deacon is to serve the community and to lead prayers. He must have the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop to put on his vestments and serve. A deacon may not celebrate the sacraments by himself; he may not give blessings; he may not consecrate the Holy Gifts.