OUR NEW CHURCH BUILDING
There is soon to be a new light of Orthodox Christianity in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The parish family of St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church are struggling to build a church that will be connected to the existing hall in which they currently celebrate all Liturgical services and social events. The new St. Mary’s Church will be fashioned in ancient Byzantine style and will be endowed with emblematical notions all carefully crafted to glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. All aspects of the architectural design are deeply and religiously symbolic, inspired by a desire to create a spiritually tangible testament to the beauty of our Lord and His creation.
The church is oriented eastward, as though a vessel preparing to bear its passengers towards a distant Eden. The church will be built of stone, laid in the form of an enormous cross stretching towards the east. The precise schematic measurements of the building are carefully calculated and are rich with meaning. The width of the church, at the entrance and altar, is 12 meters, reminiscent of the 12 Apostles. The width of each wing off of the main body of the building is four meters, a tribute to the four Evangelists. Standing before the church, the visitors’ eyes will be drawn immediately to a large cross central to the church’s façade. Beneath the protective wings of this cross are two grand doors marking the entrance to the church. It is under the unyielding protection of this cross that we enter and exit the church, a constant reminder of Jesus Christ who is the protector of all of mankind. The main doors and dominant cross are framed within a trinity of concentric arches, calling to mind the Holy Trinity. Two towering spires stand as sentinels at either side of the central cross and its encompassing arches. These towers are symbolic of the two natures of Christ, fully man and fully God. The church on Earth is bound between them, a place where Divinity meets humanity on this Earth. Colorful mosaics depicting the Theotokos, Mother of God, and the Angels adorn the walls of the towers, inviting the world to participate in the Church, the Kingdom of God on earth. Each tower is crowned with seven windows, the symbol for God’s perfection, arranged in a heptagon of stained glass. Housed beyond the glass of the windows of each tower is a bell, ready to invite mankind to reunite with his Maker by partaking in the seven sacraments, Divine Liturgy and spiritual worship. The bells will sound as though the voice of the Church and the Word, summoning the whole world to pray and worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Atop each crowned tower stands another cross, the epitome of Christ’s victory over death and despair.
The interior structure of the church is tiered, the first rise of the domed interior is measured to be 7 meters, again a symbol of perfection. Standing among the pews, within this house of God, a visitor may be compelled to gaze upwards at the Pantokraton, the Icon of Jesus Christ, fixed high in the ceiling of the main dome of the church. Jesus Christ prays for the Church, with the Church, and is ever present in the Life of the Church and its people. The circumference of the main dome is 12 meters by 12 meters, in honor of He who united in His person the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles who became the first spiritual fathers of the Orthodox Church. The dome is adorned with 16 windows which surround the Pantokraton, symbolic of the 16 prophets of the Old Testament. Approaching the altar, a visitor will stop before a trinity of steps ascending to a place of great holiness and spiritual mysteries.
The entrance to the altar is marked by a semicircular bend in the wall, the space meant for an Icon of the Theotokos who is the living connection between Heaven and earth. Through her, God became man so that man, through the Church and through her intercessions, may become god. She is a reminder of what we must strive to achieve, willing obedience and purity of heart.
The Bible says “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Proverb 3:9-10). Though this task is daunting, the parish family of St. Mary’s Church is devoted to the completion of this Church. With God’s grace, your prayers and your monetary support, we will build a church for this community and welcome all who wish to worship with us and join our family.