Axios! Priest Barnabas Powell

Not so long ago, we offered congratulations to our good friend, and PI member and contributor, Barnabas Powell, on his ordination to the Diaconate. (In case you missed it, that article can be found here.)

Today, at the Annunciation Cathedral in Atlanta, Fr. Dcn. Barnabas is being elevated to the Holy Priesthood. Axios!

Fr. Barnabas is a gifted (and well formed) preacher, and we will be seeing and hearing more from him once he recovers somewhat from his oppressive schedule. Fr. Barnabas is not only a friend, he is one of us – a member of the Preachers Institute, and student at Holy Cross Theological School in Brookline, MA. At the recent Art of Speaking Workshop (you can see the Review here), he was one of the four presenters.

To the entire Powell family – congratulations and many, blessed years to you all!

More information about Fr. Barnabas.

Fr. Barnabas (Charles) Powell is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Having been raised in a small Pentecostal church as a boy, Fr. Dcn. Barnabas grew to love the church, enjoy the music, and eventually came to be the youth pastor of his home church.

Fr. Barnabas attended Toccoa Falls College, an Evangelical Protestant school in North East Georgia, and received his theology degree there in 1988. He then went on to establish a new church in the Atlanta area that was an Evangelical congregation with Charismatic distinctives. While pastoring, Barnabas also was heavily involved with Evangelical Christian media.

He served Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries as Promotions and Public Relations coordinator, and also served as the Affiliates manager for Leading The Way Ministries with Dr. Michael Youssef.

He pastored for several years and saw the congregation grow from two families to over 200 in the space of a few years. During this time, Barnabas became interested in the history of the Church, and began a reading program that would eventually lead him to enter the Orthodox Christian Church. Several of the families that had been with him during his pastorate entered the Orthodox Christian Church together with Barnabas in November of 2001.

Fr. Barnabas joined the staff of Orthodox Christian Network, the producers of Come Receive The Light, in April of 2003, and now serves the media outreach as the director of development. Orthodox Christian Network is the SCOBA Agency commissioned to create and sustain a national media outreach for the Orthodox Christian Churches in the U.S.

In 2007 Fr. Barnabas was given the blessing of Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta to enter Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and he and his wife and daughter moved to Boston to pursue his Master of Divinity in preparation for ordained ministry in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, if God wills. He is currently finishing his senior year at Holy Cross while also serving as adjunct professor for Public Speaking/Communications at Hellenic College.

Of special interest to us, He also assists in the graduate school in teaching the Preaching course for senior seminarians.

Fr. Barnabas is married to Presvytera Connie (Demas) Powell and they have one daughter, Alexandra.

As I wrote in my review of the Art of Speaking Workshop, he’s a southern gentleman with a fire in his belly for the Gospel, and a clear vision of the future of the Orthodox Church in the USA.

He also writes the blog, Sober Joy. The article below is taken from his blog, and is a small example of his excellent work.

Axios! Priest Barnabas! Congratulations, and many, blessed years to you.

Here is an article from Fr. Barnabas’ blog, for your reading enjoyment. As for me, I never get tired of reading his writing!

“DRESS UP” ORTHODOXY

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dear Readers (both of you! :-))

Below is a response I recently wrote to an announcement about “two new Orthodox parishes” being established in the Baltimore area. It turns out that these are two Old Catholic groups wanting to advertise themselves as “Orthodox.”

The reality of our current situation here in America is that of religious “entrepreneurial” chaos. In other words, every man can do what is “right in his own eyes.” I prefer the chaos over government control, but that means that each of us must be diligent in knowing and living the fullness of the Faith. No automatic pilot allowed!

Here’s my response. I offer it to you for your critique, response, and correction:

Fr. XXXX, please forgive me, but I spent (I won’t say “wasted” but I want to) almost 10 years of my life playing “dress up” Orthodoxy in a group that desired the ancient faith without all that messy hard work of actually being in organic communion within the Orthodox Church.

I don’t say that is what’s happening here. How could I know? But I do know that any real and lasting work any of us do will have to be eventually brought to the Church in communion if it is ever going to be “fruit that remains.” This “we are going to do Orthodoxy right” mentality is absolutely a dead end. If you and your Old Catholic group have charisms and talents, bring them to the Church. Perhaps the Church can put them to use, but more than likely it will be as it has been for me, a time when my own foolish notions of my gifts and abilities will be put to the test in the fire of the hard work of communion within the Church.

I also don’t mean to engage in any lengthy discussion of the merits of this or that vision of communion and bringing America to Orthodoxy. I simply wish to share my own regrets for waiting so long to enter into the hard work of communion within the Orthodox Church. The fruit that this work has produced in my own life is worth much more than any of the perceived “gains” I thought I had outside of the organic and canonical communion within the Church. Please know that ever fear I had about the Orthodox Church was well founded.

There are many within the Church who see it as nothing more than a place to preserve yia yia’s recipes and a few colorful costumes and dance steps, or some ultimately futile attempt to pretend they don’t live where they live now. There are many within the Church, especially here in America, who are so narrow minded that you could put out both eyes with one bb! There are far too many who know so little about their faith that they resort to silly nationalistic (and sometimes racist) motivations for preserving the ancient traditions of the faith. The sad and overwhelmingly obvious results of these weaknesses is that these motivations will not preserve anything these folks want to preserve. These weak motivations are, after all, too small to preserve the timeless beauty of the Faith, and too irrelevant to keep any of the “old world” alive. All of these fears are well founded and certainly insist on an “eyes wide open” approach to entering the Church.

But in spite of these very real weaknesses, there is simply no substitute for the hard work of dealing with these shortcomings, especially with all the benefits that come.

Because, for every narrow-minded person I have encountered in the Orthodox Church, I have encountered a hundred sincere, faithful, and loving believers who, through patience, compassion, and love have guided me to a fuller understanding of the Faith. I have seen my initial impressions of some of the ethno-centric baggage of the Church as being too short sighted myself. I have found some of these cultural expressions (certainly not all) to be worthy bearers of deeper truths that have been helpful to me in deepening my own piety and faith. I have watched as so-called “cradle” Orthodox, grasping the deep healing given to them by the Faith, raise their children as committed believers and I’ve watched as so-called “converts” finally see the power of humility in living out a sense of gratitude for those who preserved the faith so they could receive it. I have watched as young men and women come to understand that if they first dwell deeply on the “sublime theology” of Orthodoxy, their children will want to keep alive those special cultural markers that allow them to display their Orthodox faith in a healthy and welcoming way. Their children want to learn the “language” not because of some foolish and shallow nationalism, but because that “language” best captures the precious nuances of the Faith they have come to love and has so transformed their lives. It has been worth the work.

My journey isn’t over, anymore than I’m sure yours is as well. Here at seminary I am learning more than I ever dreamed, and much of that education is occurring not in a classroom but in the daily living with so many different people from so many different places. I have found my worst fears and my greatest hopes both confirmed in my canonical communion within the Church,

and I wouldn’t go back to my “dress up” days for anything!

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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