Yesterday morning I decided to do something out of the ordinary, the ordinary being that Sunday mornings I usually attend liturgy at St. Peter the Apostle Orthodox Church here in Fresno Ca. I packed up my camera and went downtown thinking to shoot the city hall (and did just that) and then went a block or so east over to one Fresno's landmark churches: St Johns Cathedral. The church is listed in Fresno's Historical Registry
and is over 100 years old.
I arrived during one of the later morning services and it could tell immediately that the church was well attended because the nearest parking spot was two blocks away on the corner of Mariposa and T street. I grabbed my camera, and not wanting to carry my bag, just took a wide-angle lens. There was a rather large crowd gathered on the church steps and it didnt take me long to figure out that the service was packed and it was "standing room only" all the way out through the narthex and onto the steps.
I really wanted to see the crowd inside so I proceeded to tap folks on the shoulder and ask permission to move forward and did so until I got into the center of the narthex. Then I set my camera and carefully placed it on top of my head and took this shot.
The people in the narthex and on the steps were fully participating in the service: reciting the creed, antiphonal responses, etc. No one seemed disturbed by the fact that they were having to stand or were outside. I didn't hear a single complaint from the crowd. Well, I wasn't entirely pleased with the shots I was getting off the top of my head so I tapped some more shoulders and weaseled my way forward until I got inside. The people were actually very gracious. They saw that I had a camera and were happy to let me through (I think). So finally I made to the back of the church.
You cant see them in these pictures but up in the front on the right side there was a band. Once the band starts playing and the people get to singing, its get pretty lively! We all know that many churches attract large numbers of people and hence have to have multiple services on Sunday mornings, but at St. John's Cathedral they have SIX consecutive services on Sunday with the first service starting at 7:00 a.m and the last one starting at 1:15 p.m.! I don't really know a lot about Fresno church life, other than my own, but my guess is that there arent many churches out there with that kind of schedule.
From what I could tell the majority of the attendees were Hispanic. I love the Hispanic people and find them unpretentious and easy to be around. Fresno's population is 40% Hispanic and for the most part they are hard working, family oriented, God-fearing people. For years the Hispanic population has been the backbone of the Central Valley's agricultural life. The wealth of many in Fresno has been built by the sweat of Hispanic workers. If it wasn't for their willingness to harvest the abundance of the fruits of our fields, they would likely rot rot before others could be found to do the job.
When the service ended the parishioner departed and to my surprise -- ANOTHER group of people began to enter the church.
While this second group of people began filling the church I went in and was able to get this shot from the west side of the sanctuary:
I was amazed how fast the church began to fill and I wanted to get some more shots only I was tired of the wide angle lens so I walked 2 blocks back to my vehicle to switch lenses. I put on the 18-200 vr - wished later that I put on the 85 1.4 instead - and headed back to the church. By the time I got there the church was full and when I say full I mean it was standing room only AGAIN! The the priest was entering so I asked him for a blessing to take pictures in the church, which he gave me, and that's when I lamented my choice of lenses. Anyway, here is a shot of the priest who gave me the blessing
Well, by now I was getting tired and had to leave. The priest began preaching and he had a thundering loud voice. I just dont recall anything like it from the former service. I mean this priest was PREACHING! I was amazed. I could STILL HEAR HIM when I got to my vehicle a FULL TWO BLOCKS AWAY!
GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!
© Randy "Lazarus" McAtee
Owner/Broker Lazarus Realty