When someone says the word church, the most common image is of the building in which the members gather to worship. However, not all communities, especially those starting out, are able to purchase and maintain a building and land on which to hold their services. Others may have a building but may not have a priest to serve them. Still others may have neither a priest nor a building, but are nevertheless comprised of serious people meeting together working towards this goal. All of these assemblies—whether comprised of three people or twenty—are equally valuable in the site of God; as Christ taught in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
In order to classify the type of community though, words such as parish, mission, and mission station are often used. While not universally-agreed upon terms, a parish is usually considered to be a community with a building, a full-time priest, and a certain number of families. A mission is a community that either has a full-time priest or a building, and a mission station is a place with neither priest nor building but a dedicated group of people working toward that goal.
St. Mark’s Mission has had Fr Anastasios as a priest since June 2008, and is currently meeting in a Chapel until enough people are members of the Church and moving to permanent facilities becomes a feasible option. In many ways, however, this is a great blessing, because it allows the new members to become fully integrated into the community and promotes close relations amongst one another, while working towards a common goal: the building of the physical Church building.