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Christian Orthodox church holds successful Lebanese Festival

Bill O'Brien / Red Dirt Report
Religious icons at the Lebanese Festival at St. Elijah's Christian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Icons of Jesus, Mary and Joseph greeted attendees of the annual Lebanese Festival held at St. Elijah’s Christian Orthodox Church this past Saturday.

Histories of Orthodox Christianity detail how those images were used to spread that faith among the Slavic tribes of Eastern Europe since many members of those groups were illiterate at that time.

A similar logic may have been used when the menu for the foods that were offered at that festival was prepared since images of many of the items were included along with the names that many of the attendees may not have been familiar with, such as “Kafta” and “Tawook” sandwiches and “Sfeeha.”

The food was prepared by a group of men who worked together in an earnest manner and some of them in their day jobs are prominent Oklahoma City attorneys physicians, and businessmen.

The event was overseen by a roving group of church volunteers who wore brown aprons that had the words “Christian Orthodoxy” emblazoned on them, and they steered people into the Naifeh Hall of the church and issued them pencils, menus, and order forms that allowed them to select items.

Some of them were African immigrants who had played the same role at the recent Ethiopian Festival that was held in Oklahoma City at the Saint George Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Taking part in the festival. (Bill O'Brien / Red Dirt Report)

The long tables where the patrons sat and ate and visited with one another included a diagram that told of the history of Christianity since its founding, and documents with parted lines the theological disputes that divided the Orthodox Church from its Roman Catholic counterpart.

That document also listed how the conversion of Russia to the Orthodox Faith began in the year 998 and how in 1453 the Turks overran Constantinople and that the Byzantine Empire ended on that date as a result.

And while it was not referenced in that paper, the fall of Constantinople prompted Moscow to declare itself “The Third Rome,” and echoes of that proclamation may be found today in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East and the Balkans.

An adjacent area offered baked goods, sweets, and several different types of ground coffee that bore the St. Elijah label. A smaller room sought to acquaint patrons with the Orthodox community in Russia and Eastern Europe.

One display was concerned with the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and a sign indicated that it was about the “The nation, not the state.”

The exhibit told of how some of the traditional Georgian folk dances celebrate the Orthodox faith.

It was not surprising that no references were made to the one time Orthodox seminary student in Georgia, Iosob Jughashvili, who would later be known to history as Joseph Stalin.

Attendees crowded the halls as they made their way through the house of worship and many of them could be seen warmly greeting friends and relatives. Ronnie Kaye, a rock and roll icon in the Oklahoma City area who served as a popular disc jockey and dance host in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, was in attendance, as was Oklahoma City Mayor and gubernatorial aspirant Mick Cornett.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. (Bill O'Brien / Red Dirt Report)

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About the Author

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien is an attorney based in Oklahoma City.

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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