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Uncut Mountain Press Conference 2022

By Anastasia Heers

The UMP 2022 Conference Group Photo

 

On the second weekend of October, from the 6th to the 9th of the month, the inaugural Uncut Mountain Press conference took place at the Antiochian Village, Pennsylvania. More than 250 people were in attendance and nearly thirty were clergy, with broad pan-Orthodox representation. His Grace, bishop Luke of Syracuse, was the honorary chairman and a speaker at the conference, which was dedicated to the ethos of the Orthodox Church.

UMP Clergy Conference Participants

From all around the country the most qualified and traditional of speakers graced this event: Bishop Luke, Fr. Dimitri Carrellas, Fr. Josiah Trenham, Fr. Joseph Copeland, Hieromonk Felipe Balingit, Fr. Zachariah Lynch, Constantine Zalalas, G.M. Davis, Robert Spencer and the host of the conference, Fr. Peter Heers. Each spoke about the Orthodox ethos from a different perspective and some through the life of a saint. Several of the speakers had first-hand experiences with holy ones of our day. At the conference all the titles newly released by Uncut Mountain Press were available. It was a special joy to have one of the authors, G.M. Davis, there to present his work, Antichrist: the Fulfilment of Globalisation. (As Fr. Zechariah Lynch remarked regarding the spirit of Antichrist, “Keep the outward rite: change the heart.”) Important books such as On the Dogma of the Church by St. Hilarion Troitsky and Apodeictic Treatises on the Procession of the Holy Spirit by St. Gregory Palamas were also presented.


What distinguished this conference from others, however, was the intense schedule of services around which it revolved. In the early mornings, orthros and liturgy were served before the crack of dawn, and in the evening vespers was done and compline at the end of the day. The climax of it all was the nearly 7-hour-long vigil that took place in honour of the Apostle and Evangelist John, beginning at 8pm on Saturday night and finishing at 2:30am on Sunday morning. Seven priests served the liturgy with a deacon, while the Byzantine chanting was almost exclusively in English and by candlelight. Many shared that they felt overwhelming grace during this Athonite-style vigil, and many tears of joy were shed on that wooden floor. “I haven’t wept that much since Mt. Athos,” Fr. Paul G. revealed. Darius V. said in a post on Gab that the vigil, “[as] someone remarked, felt ‘like Pascha.’ The Divine Grace was powerful and felt by many.” Others also said that it was “like Pascha.” “I’ve never experienced anything like that vigil in my life. It was life- changing,” says Mitchell.

Clergy Listening to Key Speakers

“First morning home after the UMP retreat and I still feel like I’m floating… When I say it was out of this world, I mean it literally,” says Silvia Leontaritis, known online as Orthodox Mom. When it was over many of those who had attended said they were homesick for the life they lived during those three days. “Thank you so much for organizing and putting together the conference this past weekend! I can't say enough good things about the conference. I still feel the grace of it in my bones and in my heart,” says Nicholas D. “It was all joy and blessedness together. A small taste of the Heavenly Kingdom,” wrote George W. From Timothy H. we hear, “Tears of joy, weak knees from the 6.5-hour vigil, and a full heart from meeting many fathers, brothers and sisters and hearing grace-filled teaching.”

Orthodox.medicine says about the retreat: “We are blessed to have courageous clergy standing up for the faith.” In earnest, at this conference the faith was confessed and the dogma and ethos were preached without any fear. Topics such as ecumenism, the baptism of converts and covidism were addressed and clarified for the faithful. “This is how you have union with the Roman Catholics and Protestants: you baptize them,” said Bishop Luke. Quoting Fr. George Metallinos, Fr. Felipe said: “All heresy has a moral heresy within.” “We must believe in Christ as the Church,” said Fr. Peter.

“This is how you have union with the Roman Catholics and Protestants: you baptize them,” Bishop Luke of Syracuse. Left to Right: Fr. Deacon Joseph Sirko., Fr Peter Heers, Bishop Luke of Syracuse, Subdeacon Nektarios Harrison, Fr Josiah Trenham

Another important topic discussed by the speakers was that of catechism and becoming formed in the faith. On the issue of catechism, Fr. Josiah Trenham stated, “Catechism is for all Orthodox Christians for the entirety of their lives.” On the acquisition of piety Fr. Felipe remarked, “Piety is not something we learn by ourselves. It is something given to us.” “Our Faith is not about information: our Faith is about transformation,” said Fr. Joseph Copeland.

Hieromonk Felipe (Balingit) Speaking with Vladyka Luke

From another attendee of the conference we hear: “I cannot even begin to describe this experience! It was beyond anything and everything that I expected. It was a life-changing event that will always follow me in my life. We were not just told what the Orthodox ethos is. We were shown what it is and we were made to experience it. I have been to many conferences, many talks and many vigils in my life but never have I experienced such a complete and total immersion into the true ethos of the Church as in this.” Truly, what we experienced was more than just attending another one of the usual conferences. We experienced a way of life. We participated in the mysteries of the Church and attended the grace-filled services, which are the center of our life in the Church. As Fr. Joseph Copeland beautifully put it, “The Orthodox Christian does not live in the world and go to church: he lives in the Church and goes out to the world.” In this conference we lived for a short time what our whole life in the church should be like: attending the services, partaking of Christ’s most precious body and blood, and hearing the word of God, stated with exactitude. Glory to God for giving us this blessing!



















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15 Comments


I wish I could have been there. Unforeseen events made it impossible for me to attend. Maybe in the future.

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Paisios
Paisios
Oct 31, 2022

Hello will Any video of the vigil be uploaded? I would like to hear and see the vigil.

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Unknown member
Oct 30, 2022

I have one question. Is this an event that an Orthodox layperson such as myself can attend next year?

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Unknown member
Oct 30, 2022
Replying to

Thank you for your fast response, Maria. Blessings to you and yours. ☦️

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Yelena
Yelena
Oct 29, 2022

A wonderful and important event, I would love to have something like that in Serbia

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Jen Jenny
Jen Jenny
Oct 29, 2022

I wish i was there too, unfortunately i had no one to go with coming from canada. God bless and thank you

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