St. Symeon Orthodox Church Expands Food and Culture Fair Offerings

Congregation Invites Neighbors to Tour Church, See Iconographic Murals, Hear Internationally Acclaimed Choir, and Shop at One-Day Multi-Ethnic Bakery and Marketplace

Birmingham, AL, August 22, 2019 --( More food options, more concerts and talks, new iconographic murals, and extended hours are all on the agenda for the Second Annual St. Symeon Food and Culture Fair on October 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Symeon Orthodox Church in Birmingham.

“We had a great turnout and a lot of fun at our first Food and Culture Fair in the spring of 2018,” said event chairperson Niki May. “We immediately knew we wanted to do it again, but because Easter can be as late as May or as early as March, we realized we needed to move our fair to the fall. Now, we are having our fair on the feast day of our patron, St. Symeon the New Theologian, which feels perfect to us,” May said.

Marketplace features multi-ethnic food and gifts

During the event, the church’s fellowship hall is transformed into a multi-ethnic marketplace, where guests can buy baked goods and gifts from four different market stalls that loosely coincide with the different ethnic backgrounds of the congregation. “Each stall is decorated, and each stall has its own kind of ethnic flair,” May said.

Guests can have Russian tea, piroshki, and variety of Slavic sweets at the Slavic Tea Room market stall. The Southern Sweets and Savories stall will feature sweet tea, lemonade, poundcake and other treats, and Southern-themed art. At Cafe Europa, guests can find Italian pizzelles, Norwegian cardamom buns, and a variety of European sweets, plus coffee. The Balkan Bakery stall will offer Turkish coffee, Bulgarian banitsa, and Greek breads and cookies. Guests will be able to buy made-to-order loukoumades, or Greek honey puffs, at an outdoor market stall. There will be a limited number of “Around the World” lunch plates for sale in the church’s classroom building.

Two concert programs offered inside church

“At St. Symeon, we love to bake and cook,” May said, “but what our parish is really known for is our choir.” The St. Symeon Orthodox Church Choir has recorded several albums, and its work is in regular rotation on Ancient Faith Radio.

The choir will present a concert at 11 a.m. titled “The Year of Our Lord,” featuring favorite hymns from throughout the liturgical year. At 2 p.m., the smaller Prosomia Ensemble will present a second concert with a different program: “Praise the Lord, All Nations,” featuring music in different languages and musical styles. “Our church is not a Russian church or a Greek church; we are a parish of the Orthodox Church in America, and our congregation is very diverse,” explained Fr. Alexander. “Our music reflects the diversity of our congregation, and singing in multiple languages and styles something our choir is particularly known for,” Fr. Alexander added.

Talks and tours to educate about church art

Guests can tour the church and view its large, iconographic murals throughout the day. The current church building was constructed in 2014. “When we built the new church, we thought we would be waiting many years before we could add iconography to the walls,” said Protodeacon Ephraim Rivers. “But, Glory to God! We were able to complete the first phase of iconography, including the large icon of Christ in our dome, within a year.”

Since its last food and culture fair, the church has added murals to several more walls inside the church nave.

Two different art talks will be given in the church at this year’s food and culture fair. At 1 p.m., Protodeacon Ephraim Rivers will present “What is Iconography?,” a talk explaining the ancient Christian tradition of sacred art and the role of icons in Orthodox Christianity. At 10 a.m., apprentice iconographer Georgia Briggs, along with graphic designer Andrew Ritchey, will give a talk called “Icon Reading 101: The Visual Language of Holy Images.” This talk will focus on symbols and other conventions that are typically seen in icons.

St. Symeon Orthodox Church is located at 3101 Clairmont Avenue 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 5 p.m. and the Divine Liturgy on Sundays at 10 a.m. A full schedule of services is available at Services are in English and visitors are welcome.
St. Symeon Orthodox Church
Susie Spence