The desire to establish an Orthodox Christian presence in Murfreesboro runs deep within our community. The five founding families of St. Elizabeth had been attending two Orthodox churches in the region when the idea to begin a new mission closer to home began to take hold. Beginning as an informal home fellowship, by the end of 2004 the community was granted the status of mission by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and celebrated their first Divine Liturgy as a family in January of 2005.
New and Ancient
The Orthodox Christian Church dedicated to Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr is new to Rutherford County, even if it synonymous with the oldest Christian communion in the world. From the brilliant descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost those many years ago to our new community, the Orthodox fellowship of churches continues to proclaim the Good News through faith and good works. From the relative stability of ancient Rome to the more turbulent years since the fall of Constantinople and even to more present years, the Truth and Beauty of the Faith inspires all to Christ!
Scripture Come to Life…
A visit to Saint Elizabeth Church will show a very different practice than most, if not all, other Christian manners of worship. The Orthodox way engages the mind as much as the body towards bringing the scriptures to life…
- The Altar – To provide for the offering of the Eucharist (Ex. 20:24-26; Psalm 43:3-4; Heb. 13:10; Rev. 8:3)
- Candles – To remember that Christ is the “Light of the World” (Psalm 18:28; John 8:12; Eph. 5:14)
- Holy Communion – to participate in the Body and Blood and to reveal our own potential for transformation (Luke 22:19-20; John 6:51-58; 1 Cor. 10:14; Rev. 19:9)
- Icons – To proclaim Christ’s Incarnation in the flesh and to reveal our own potential for tranformation (Gen 1:27; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3; II Peter 1:4)
- Incense – to facilitate prayer (Ex 40:26-27; Psalm 141:2; Eph. 5:2; Rev 5:8-9)
- Liturgy – to carry on the tradition of the early Church and participate in Christ’s own priesthood (Acts 2:42; Heb 7:17; I Tim 2:5; Heb 8:1-2)
…and Life is transformed!
The soul yearns to experience god not as we, or the culture, wish Him to be, but as He genuinely Is (Ex. 3:14). Orthodox Worship of God permeates the whole of one’s being in order to gradually realize the transformation into the fullness of Christ! “We shall see Him as He is… and purify ourselves even as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). The Orthodox Christian Strives toward a “Sacramental Vision” of life: to see all things in Christ and Christ in all things.
One saint describes our two thousand year old tradition; “What is the essence of Orthodoxy? It is Christ. Everything that is Orthodox has a divine-human character. In all creation, God occupies the first place; we, the second. God leads, we follow; God acts, we cooperate. God became man and lived within the categories of our human existence while appearing everywhere as absolute holiness, goodness, wisdom, justice, and truth.”
The Grand Duchess Saint Elizabeth Feodorovna, aunt of Nicholas II of Russia and the grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England, is the protector of our parish. Born in 1864, she converted to the Orthodox Christian Church in 1894 which her husband, Grand Duke Sergei, joyously celebrated with a gift of the icon of our Savior, “Not Made by Hands.” Force and coercion from marriage had no place in her heart when she was received into the fullness of Christ; the founders of our parish wish that the truth and beauty of the faith that she encountered in Russia can be shared into the future of Rutherford County!