Church is first of its kind in New Jersey

Hackettstown — The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America (OCCA) will make its presence known in New Jersey for the first time on Sunday, July 19, with Divine Liturgy to be celebrated by the Reverend Father William Barkhorn of Branchburg. Sunday services of the The Parish Community of St. Athanasius OCCA will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Panther Valley Ecumenical Church in Hackettstown.

The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America has its roots in the missionary work of Archbishop Timotheos, in the Midwest in the 1880s. Originally established by the Syriac Patriarch of Antioch, the OCCA has been a self-governing church since 1910, ordaining bishops and priests in what has come to be called “apostolic succession,” handing down the faith from the apostles and the first churches. The Web site describes the OCCA as “a practical, pastoral style with few frills or fads, few buildings and small budgets.

Barkhorn said, “It is important to understand the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and that the Holy Spirit lives in each one of us. My hope is to provide a way to nurture each person who participates in our church, to recognize that we all have divinity within us and are each called to express it in our unique way. I see myself as an ordinary person who’s answering the tap on the shoulder from God, and I see every other person the same way.”

The order of worship is similar to that of the Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches and communion is offered to all who wish to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ