Birmingham, AL, March 06, 2018 --(PR.com
)-- On April 28, St. Symeon Orthodox Church will host its first-ever Food and Culture Fair, giving neighbors an opportunity to tour the church building and see the expansive iconographic murals being painted inside.
The fair, which will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will also feature a multi-ethnic bakery where shoppers can buy tea, coffee, and baked goods to enjoy there and take home. Additionally, there will be two presentations of sacred music by the church choir, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and a talk on the subject “What is Iconography?” at 1 p.m.
“We are so happy to have the new church,” said fair chairperson Nicole May of the church building completed in 2015. The church features a Russian-style onion dome as well as a Greek-style central dome, reflecting some of the ethnicities of the congregation. “We know people want to see the church, and we also have amazing cooks from many different ethnic backgrounds, so we came up with this event to really roll out the welcome mat for everyone,” May said.
Visitors can tour the church throughout the fair. The interior of the building features expansive iconographic murals. Although the murals currently cover large areas of the church walls, including the central dome, altar area, and part of the transepts, the iconography is still in progress, and more will be added. “It’s exciting to watch the iconography develop,” said Protodeacon Ephraim Rivers. “Visitors at this year’s event will want to come back next year to see what’s changed,” he added.
Fr. Deacon Ephraim will give a talk about iconography inside the church at 1 p.m. during the fair, to explain the tradition of sacred art in Orthodox churches and homes and to help visitors appreciate this art in context.
Choral music is another form of sacred art that will be highlighted at the fair. “Our choir is one of the best loved Orthodox choirs in America,” said May. St. Symeon choir recordings are in regular rotation on Ancient Faith Radio, and in 2015 the choir was selected to sing at the All American Council of the Orthodox Church in America. Under the direction of Reader Alex Fecanin, the choir will give two presentations of sacred music during the fair, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“Visitors are always welcome at our services,” said the Very Rev. Alexander Fecanin, parish priest. “The Food and Culture Fair gives us a way to share some of the unique aspects of our community,” Fr. Alexander said. “As a parish of the Orthodox Church in America, St. Symeon is not an ‘ethnic church,’ but it is truly a multi-ethnic community,” he explained.
“Most of our members are American converts to Orthodoxy, but we also have members from Russia, Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Puerto Rico and Mexico,” Fr. Alexander added. “I think our community is known for its cooking,” he said. “The food hall at the fair is going to be something special; I’m really looking forward to it, and I think our neighbors will really enjoy it.”
The food hall at this year’s Food and Culture Fair will feature baked goods as well as coffee, tea and sodas. “We have amazing bakers at St. Symeon,” May said. Members of the congregation formed four baking teams that loosely align with their diverse ethnic heritages, and each team will feature its goods at a decorated booth in the church fellowship hall, which will be transformed for the day into an indoor market with live entertainment. Additionally, gifts and books will be available from the church’s bookstore and throughout the market hall.
For example, the Balkan Coffee House booth will feature loukoumades (Greek honey puffs, fried on site, drenched with honey syrup and garnished with cinnamon) as well as baklava, Greek coffee, sweet and savory banitsa (a Bulgarian pastry) and a variety of cookies. The Southern food booth will include pound cake, cornbread, peach cobblers, Mississippi mud brownies, lemon bars, pecan pies, sweet tea and lemonade.
The European booth will offer Norwegian cardamom buns, Madeleines (small French cakes), pizzelles (Italian waffle cookies), and a variety of other sweet and savory biscuits and cookies. Finally, a Slavic booth will have Russian tea, fruit-filled piroshki (fried buns), and a variety of cookies highlighting the rich tradition of ornately decorated baked goods in Eastern Europe.
St. Symeon Orthodox Church is located at 3101 Clairmont Avenue, at the convergence of the Highland Park, Forest Park, and Southside neighborhoods in Birmingham. It is a parish of the Orthodox Church in America, a jurisdiction of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Regular weekly services include Great Vespers on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and the Divine Liturgy on Sundays at 10 a.m. A full schedule of services is available at stsymeon.com. Services are in English and visitors are welcome.