Tour Stop 10
543 Cherokee Avenue
Saint John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church
The original church structure at 543 Cherokee Avenue was erected in 1917 as part of the Seventh Day Adventists Southern Conference headquarters. When the current congregation bought the church in 1988, the building’s interior was in a sad state of disrepair. With little money but abundant volunteer labor, they managed to restore it as a place of worship, adding the dining hall in the back building along with the present-day Saint Nicholas Academy.
You’ll notice the sanctuary has been modified in standard Orthodox Christian fashion. The lack of pews is typical in many Orthodox Christian parishes, as most of the congregation stands during services (although there are places to sit for those who wish). Painted frescos depict the twelve Major Feasts in the Orthodox Church year which correlate to Christ’s ministry (Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension for example). The ceiling dome, also customary in the Orthodox Church, was installed during conversion of the building. The fresco here is called “Christ Pantocrator” which is Greek, meaning “Christ Almighty” or “Christ All Powerful.”
Orthodox Christianity is an ancient faith in the modern world, with 2,000 years of unchanged Christian tradition. The Orthodox Church across the globe consists of 14 independent, self-governing Churches, all of whom share the same faith, history, and tradition – the Greek Orthodox Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Church (which is Middle-Eastern), and the Russian Orthodox Church as examples. Saint John’s is a part of the youngest Church in the Orthodox Communion, the Orthodox Church in America.
As you approach the church during the tour, you’ll hear a soloist singing traditional carols in the courtyard or the sanctuary. Written information about the iconography and about the church’s feeding ministry is provided at stations in the sanctuary. Feel free to approach the church volunteers with any questions you have during your visit.