St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church
The beginning of the St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church of Richmond can be traced to the St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Mission, which was founded in 1974 by Fr. George and Mary Ann Detrana. The first services where held in the Pace chapel on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Services were subsequently held for a period of time in the nearby Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church of Richmond has been located on Chamberlayne Avenue since 1978.
The physical structure of the church is dictated by the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. While there are several possible variations in the architecture typical of the Orthodox Church, the essence is a structure with a form that conveys mystical significance, such as the shape of a cross or that of a ship that leads the worshipers through life’s stormy seas. The current church building is a brick colonial structure, renovated in a way that is conducive to Orthodox sanctuary and tradition. Hand painted icons adorn the walls of the churches’ nave.
The three phase resettlement project became manifested when the church body purchased 5.78 acres in the grassy, oak tree lined pastures of Richmond’s western suburbs. The new building is designed to grow with the expanding of the church family in years to come. The focus of the architectural design is to conform with sensitivity to the aesthetic and liturgical needs of other churches and to keep within the mission’s budget guidelines. The new structure will support a parish of approximately 200.
The Church is a mission of the Diocese of the South, a territorial unit of the Orthodox Church in America, which is the local autocephalous Orthodox Church of this continent, belonging to the world-wide federation of Orthodox Churches. The traditions of Russian Orthodox Christianity are the foundation of the St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church. The church states its purpose as “to gather together for worship and adoration of the Holy Trinity through the services of our liturgical tradition, seeking to grow in spiritual maturity through the study of Holy Scripture, as well as through instruction in the faith that was received by the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ and handed down from one generation to another until our own (Holy Tradition). By doing so we seek to offer in the English language the fullness of Orthodox Christianity to the people of Central Virginia.” The Church subscribes to a specific and extensive dogma that dictates the workings of all aspects of worship. There are specific guidelines governing church music, fasting, and the sacraments.
A typical week at St. Cyprian includes Saturday evening Great Vespers, Sunday morning Divine Liturgy, and Daily Vespers celebrated on Wednesday evenings. In addition to the churches all-English services, there is also a Divine Liturgy in Slavonic once a month for the Russian speaking community. After the Divine Liturgy services are concluded there is a time for fellowship and refreshment, hosted by volunteers from the congregation. On Sundays there is church school offered after Divine Liturgy during the school year and adult bible study once a month at the home of one of the parish families that occurs after the conclusion of Wednesday Vespers. Once a week there is also an informal discussion session with the rector at a local coffee shop. The church offers parishioners a weekly bulletin, a quarterly newsletter, and a website that contains a wide array of information about the history and traditions of the Orthodox Church in America and abroad. The St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church community includes both worshipers who were born into Orthodoxy and those who have converted to the faith from other traditions. Also active in the church life are members whose families have lived in the United States for generations along with members whose families have immigrated more recently.
St Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church
P.O. Box 75601
3820 Chamberlayne Ave.
Richmond, VA 23236
Profile prepared by Daniel Scruggs