August 9, 2011

Priest fills Church’s void after test of faith

(By Chris Hong, August 8, 2011):- Despite its odd location in a small commercial center next to a bar on Ninth Street, the St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church isn’t out of the ordinary. On Sundays, 35 to 50 people cram into the makeshift church to worship. Afterward, the congregation shares a meal. They value community outreach, preparing food once a month for the LINK community kitchen.

It’s a tight-knit community. Many of the adults are close friends, and their children have grown up together. Perhaps those bonds kept the church together during the last five years, when they did not have a full-time priest. Out-of-town priests helped fill the void, but members said there was a noticeable difference. The church only held communion twice a month, and the community lacked the structure and leadership their own priest provided.

Joshua Lollar is the priest of St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church in Lawrence.

Nini Negash, a church member, used to drive an hour to Kansas City to attend a different church.
She doesn’t make that trip anymore. Joshua Lollar recently became the parish’s leader, eight years after he almost walked away from Christianity altogether.

Lollar grew up in a devout evangelical Christian home and was an active member of his church’s youth group. Lollar remained faithful while attending Kansas State University. He described his college years as an “intense spiritual experience.”

“I didn’t really do any of the college rebellion stuff,” he said. “I was a pretty quiet kid.”
Instead of partying, he built a relationship with his future wife. Although he realized he wanted to become a pastor after a brief stint studying premedicine, he said he never honestly evaluated his faith.

“I was probably nervous about what would happen if I pushed too hard,” he said. A mission trip to Ethiopia after graduation revealed the limitations of his world view, he said.

The poverty shocked him. He described the Sheraton Hotel — with a luxurious swimming pool, swank restaurants and rich tourists — in the midst of the impoverished city of Addis Ababa. He said the religion he was practicing didn’t fully embrace the Gospel’s critique of this inequality, and that bothered him.

He was also disillusioned with the “colonial” feeling of his work. Ethiopia has a rich Orthodox Christian tradition, yet he said many missionaries discounted it as a lesser form of Christianity. “I just felt kind of ridiculous being the missionary over there,” he said. “I was like, ‘I need to learn from you all, not even about Christianity, but about living and being a human.’” He left Ethiopia, unsure of Christianity. He came to Kansas University to study religion and philosophy, hoping to find truth in the process.

“Once everything fell apart going to Ethiopia, I think I was ready to be honest, ready to be open and ready to be taught.” The lessons about Orthodox Christianity he had started in Ethiopia continued in Lawrence. The religion resonated with him, and he converted two years after his trip to Africa. “I certainly needed discipline, and desired a deeper practice and desired a more serious and reverent way of worshipping,” he said.

He left Lawrence to continue his spiritual journey, attending a seminary in New York and earning a doctorate in theology at Notre Dame. In June, he became ordained and returned to Lawrence with his wife and four children. Church members said they already have noticed the benefits of a full-time priest, such as having communion three times a week. Chris Rathnel, a church member and a childhood friend of Lollar, was with him for a large part of Lollar’s journey. They both traveled to Ethiopia, and they became interested in the Orthodox church.

“It’s a gift to be able to see someone develop that way,” he said.


Anonymous said...

people like these came at the 11th hour.My be God send them to do miracles.Our fathers ignore their church for power,money and ethincity.I belive ,the church will rise one day,but we may not see that day because we all are full of problmes.we are far from God but close to church.

Anonymous said...

This is an impressive beginning for our religion Orthodox Tewahedo to introduce the others through their own people. However, I think these people may need close attention and help in terms of keeping the values of the Dogmas and Canons of the Orthodoxy. May God help them and help us. Amen.

Anonymous said...

....good for him.(If true) Are we sure than there are no other agendas behind?

ababu said...

I (we) need explanation from DS as to where its allegiance to MK comes from. I remember that MK denounced its affiliation to DS back in 2009. But recent activities of DS are contrary to what it claims about its independence. What is going on guys? You cannot protect truth by lying and deception.

ማህበረ፡ክርስቲያን said...

ሰላም ወገኖቼ
የታሪኩ፡ባለቤት፡ወይም፡ጓደኛው፡የኢ/ኦ/ተ/ቤ/ክ እምነት፡ተከታዮች፡መሆናቸውን፡መጠመቃቸውን፡ የሚገልጽ፡ጽሁፍ፡አላቀረባችሁም፡፡እንደው፡ማንም፡ ተነስቶ፡ኢትዮጵያ፡ደስ፡ትላለች፡ሃይማኖቷ፡ደስ፡ ብሎኛል፡በሚልእናንተን፡እመስላልሁ፡የሚለውን፡ ሁሉ፡ማመኑ፡ተገቢ፡አይመስለኝም፡፡ኦርቶዶክስ፡ነኝ፡ የሚል፡ሁሉ፡ክርስቲያን፡ነው፡ማለት፡አይደለምና፡አደራበዚህ፡አይነት፡ጽሁፍ፡በጎችን፡ለተኩላ፡አታጋልጡ፡፡የኛመስሎአቸው፡ሄድው፡እንዳይሳተፉ፡፡እኛ፡ራሳችንን፡ ኦርቶዶክስ፡ተዋህዶ፡ብለን፡እንጠራለን፡እንጂ፡ ኦርቶዶክስ፡ብቻ፡አንልም፡፡ይህ፡ሁሉ፡ምክንያት፡ስላለው፡አደራ፡ማን፡ምን፡እንደሆነ፡እናጣራ፡፡

Anonymous said...

Great Good News.

Thanks to God.

Brother in Christ

Anonymous said...

[ The churche's website is: ]

It is a member of the the Orthodox Church of North America.

For more details check click on the link below:

St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church
Diocese of the Midwest,
Orthodox Church in America

Metropolitan Jonah
locum tenens of our Diocese

Very Reverend Timothy Sawchak
Priest in Charge

Reverend Michael Medis
Visiting Officiating Priest

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የአቡነ ጳውሎስ "ሐውልተ ስምዕ"

ነጻ ፓትርያርክ ምርጫ ቢሆን ኖሮ ማንን ይመርጡ ነበር? እንበልና ሁሉም ነገር ሥርዓቱን ጠብቆ የተከናወነ የእጩዎች ምርጫ ቢሆን ኖሮ፣ አሁን የምናነሣቸው ጉድለቶች ባይኖሩ ኖሮ፣ 6ኛው ፓትርያርክ እንዲሆን የምትመርጡት ማንን ነበር? (ማሳሰቢያ፦ አሁን ያለው ክፍፍል እና የመንግሥት ተጽዕኖ ባይኖር ኖሮ ተብሎ የሚመለስ ጥያቄ ነው። የምን “ባይኖር ኖሮ ነው” የሚል አስተያየት ካለዎትም እናከብራለን።)