Religion News: June 2023

Father Robert Holet stands in front of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which he founded 25 years ago. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

St. Nicholas Celebrates 25 Years

They’ve worshipped in a hotel room, a rental house, and a warehouse until finally, in 2005, the devoted people of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church found their present home (formerly an antique store) on Route 250, and worked hard to make it both welcoming and beautiful.

For 22 years, the church was led by Fr. Robert and Pani Christine Holet. At first, in 1998, the Holets were also involved in a couple of Pennsylvania parishes, but after the congregation grew, they made ministering to the orthodox people of Shenandoah, Rockingham, Augusta, Nelson, Greene, and Albemarle counties their full-time mission. On Saturday, June 10, there will be a celebration of the church’s 25th anniversary, with dignitaries from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA joining present pastor Fr. Michael Abrahamson and Matushka Faith for the happy occasion.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church is a parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. The devotion of the congregation is evident in the worship space, library, kitchen and social hall. While holding fast to the principles of good stewardship, the church has slowly accumulated a collection of beautiful icons, religious symbols meant to communicate religious beliefs and stories in the vivid, ancient way. 

In February, 2020, Very Rev. Fr. Robert retired after serving the church for 22 years. St. Nicholas then welcomed interim leadership, Fr. Charles Sanderson and Pani Melania, who led the church through the difficult time of the pandemic. In the spring of 2022, Fr. Michael Abrahamson and Matushka Faith arrived. St. Nicholas member Deborah Delare said the congregation is thankful for the new life and energy they’ve brought to the parish after the isolating COVID years. 

The church welcomes visitors interested in orthodoxy and is well-known locally for its hospitality. The service June 10 will be followed by a dinner at Orchard Creek Restaurant in Waynesboro.

New Labyrinth, Grandparents’ Program at Mountain Light Retreat

Debbie Scott, the owner of Mountain Light Retreat, has always found walking a labyrinth to be a significant physical prompt for contemplation and mindfulness. She made sure one was available for parishioners at St. Paul’s, Ivy, when she was on the staff there, and purchased a similar one––a copy of the famous labyrinth at Chartres––to use at Mountain Light. Still, she said, “I wanted one that we could use outside, in view of the mountains.” She found a designer to lay out a classical labyrinth on the former tennis court, and helped paint the expansive maze. “He had a short turnaround time and no assistant, so I became a labyrinth painter,” she said. She’d just had the area resurfaced, so the fumes and the heat made it difficult, but in the end, she had a large labyrinth at the foot of the ancient mountains.

Mountain Light Retreat now has an outdoor labyrinth at the foot of the mountains.

On Saturday, June 3, the labyrinth will be dedicated with a program of sacred readings, instrumental music, prayers, and a reflection on a portion of chapter 6, “Sacred Earth: John Muir,” convening at 11 a.m. A short lunch break will be followed by a special labyrinth walk and blessing, led at 12:30 p.m. by Mary Ann Wamhoff, an advanced accredited labyrinth facilitator. Everyone is invited to bring lunch, a water bottle, and good walking shoes. 

Wamhoff said those wanting to walk the labyrinth should “bring their hopes, desires, dreams, and well wishes to bless this space and all who will benefit from it.” She reminds anyone coming to be prepared for an hour or so outside in the sun.

On Sunday, June 11, Mountain Light will offer a new program inviting grandparents to experience the beauty and wonder of the peaceful retreat grounds together with their grandchildren. The program, which will continue on selected Sundays, will begin at 2 p.m. with a chance to explore the grounds. There will be stations set up to invite curiosity, creativity and meaningful conversations. A story time at 3 p.m. is also offered as a drop-in for a shorter retreat time together. For details, and to reserve a space, email [email protected]. 

A New Home for Crozet Fellowship Church

After a little less than two years of growth, the Crozet Fellowship Church found itself in need of a new building to accommodate its growing congregation. Starting in May, after an intense two months of painting and remodeling, the church meets at 470 Twinkling Springs Road, the former home of Valley Community Church. That church now meets in the former St. John Evangelist Catholic Church, 300 Maple Avenue, in Waynesboro. 

Associate Pastor Jake Stone and Pastor John Healy at the new home of Crozet Fellowship Church on Twinkling Springs Road. The two men want the church to be a resource for the whole community. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Pastor John Healy said the church, which has been meeting every Sunday since the fall of 2021 at Henley Middle School, has grown even faster than expected. At a recent service there were 150 people, including 26 elementary-school-aged children. Known as an informal, welcoming church, Crozet Fellowship Church will continue to be family oriented, with well-attended programs for children and teenagers. Healy pastors the church with the help of his associate pastor, Jake Stone. 

Healy said he would like to have the building serve as a center for the community as well as the church. “We don’t currently have any concrete plans,” he said. “However, we are praying about ways we can use the building throughout the week to bless the Crozet community.” 

Some of the ideas and events the church has discussed are weekday Bible studies, a meeting location for local organizations, playdates and activities for parents with young children, and installing a disc golf course on the property. 

Healy would like to hear ideas and suggestions from the wider Crozet community. To reach the pastor and find out more about the church, visit 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here