Who We Are…
Nestled among the redwoods in the midst of the Santa Cruz Mountains, in a little town called Felton, is a large, beautiful, and sturdy redwood building that is the spiritual home of a sizable community of Orthodox Christian believers. Adjacent to the church parish school. In the church complex, and in the homes and lives of the parishioners, the kingdom of heaven is experienced on earth.
St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church has about 400 members, most of whom attend regularly. While the membership includes ethnicities ranging from Palestinian to Greek to Romanian, the majority of the parishioners are American converts to Orthodoxy. In fact, the church began in the 1970s as a small house church of former evangelicals in search of the True Church. This house church, under the leadership of Fr. John Hardenbrook and a group of elders, grew and combined with other groups of seekers, and their search led them eventually to be received into the Orthodox Church in 1987.
Since that time the parish has continued to grow and has undergone many transitions, some of them quite painful. But through every challenge the parish has grown stronger and more united.
Many visitors to St. Lawrence have remarked that the parish is unique in their experience of Orthodox churches in America. (That this uniqueness is perceived as a good thing is confirmed by the number of these visitors who have later become parishioners!) There are a number of factors that contribute to the church's character. Here are just a few:
From its origins as a house church, the parish has been composed of people who are wholeheartedly committed to serving the Lord and His Church. This commitment, expressed in sacrificial giving of time, money, and resources, makes everything else mentioned here possible.
Also from its origins, St. Lawrence Church has been committed to the ideal of community. We take literally our Lord's injunction to love one another and live this out in very practical ways, so that the parish is like a large extended family. Members try to live near one another and interact socially on a regular basis. When anyone is in need, brothers and sisters are always available to help. From birth to marriage to death and through all the daily struggles in between, St. Lawrence parishioners bear one another's burdens and share in one another's joys.