So as I posted earlier, I was on vacation the end of June and early July in New Mexico and West Texas. At some point we stopped in the historic little town of Fort Davis, Texas, on our way down to Big Bend National Park. We spent a wonderful night at our usual stay, the Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park.
Wherever I travel I always make a review of the phone book and local newspaper to see what kinds of churches, particularly Orthodox, are found in the area. Since I’d been to the Big Bend area many times, I didn’t even pay it that much mind since I thought I knew what was to be found out here. In the way of Orthodoxy that means flat nothing between San Angelo and El Paso. So you can imagine my total, utter shock when I opened the Jeff Davis County Mountain Register and saw the name Saint Jonah the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in the church listings on page 3.
To give you an idea how unlikely it is that anyone in the OCA Missions Office ever thought about Big Bend as an area of future church planting, some statistics please. Fort Davis and Valentine are the only two towns to be found in the whole 2265 square miles of Jeff Davis County, with a total population of 2207. Thirty miles from Fort Davis is Brewster County and the location of St. Jonah Orthodox Mission in Alpine, Texas. Only 8866 people reside in Brewster County’s 6193 square miles, most in the town of Alpine (population 5786). And yet, in two counties where the average population density is less than 1 person per square mile, an Orthodox mission has been planted and a part-time priest assigned. Glory be to God!