The focal point of the Holy Trinity Seminary course “History of the Russian Church-326” is the study of the tragic events connected with the liturgical reforms of the seventeenth century and the subsequent split. Therefore, it has almost become a tradition to visit the Nativity of Christ parish, a former Priestless Old-Believer parish which was received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1983. The parish is located in Erie, PA, and services are performed according to pre-Nikonian liturgical regulations.
On March 30, 2013, at 4 pm, a group of two instructors and five students arrived in Erie. The small vespers started at 4:15, followed by the All-Night-Vigil, which ended around 9 pm.
After the service, everyone was invited to dinner at the hospitable house of the rector, the V. Rev. Archpriest Pimen Simon. Here, students and teachers could get answers to historical and liturgical questions concerning ancient Russian liturgical practices.
In the morning, students and instructors co-celebrated, served in the altar and sang in the choir. After the service, a traditional meeting with faculty members and seminarians took place within the framework of the parish Sunday School. The meeting brought together about 40 people. In casual conversation, Holy Trinity Seminary’s instructor of Russian Church History, Rev. Deacon Andrei Psarev, spoke about his research conducted at Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland: "The Limits of Nonconformity in the Byzantine Church (861-1300): A Study of Canon 15 of the First and Second Council in Constantinople (861).
The seminarians who participated formed a diverse group from the U.S., China, and Macedonia. Meeting with them let parishioners know about the life of the seminary first hand. After the discussion, the seminarians went to a Sunday evening Lenten Vespers service with its great prokeimenon and prostrations. And then it was time to return back to the 21st century.