By John Kruchok
It’s time to make your plans to attend the 92nd National Convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America, to be held this summer, July 20- 23, 2018 at the Union Station Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri. This year’s event will again be held in conjunction with the All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America.
Since it’s been 32 years since the last national convention was held in St. Louis, there are many reasons to return. MetroLink Red Line service (light rail) provides regular service directly from Lambert International Airport to downtown St. Louis, ending in southern Illinois. A “Union Station” stop a few blocks from the hotel is an option for those who can walk and travel lightly!
The same MetroLink, one stop later, will bring you across the street from the new Busch Stadium and spectacular “Ballpark Village” entertainment and dining complex which also includes the multi-floor St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Hall of Fame. A few short stops later will get you closer to the Gateway Arch (must see) and Laclede’s Landing. Of course, there are “classic” St. Louis tourist attractions which have been upgraded over the years and these include the Budweiser Brewery experience (several tours, 1 complimentary) and biergarten, the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Zoo, which is free and considered to be one of the top Zoo’s in America with over 18,000 animals from 700 species on 90 acres in Forest Park, once home to the 1904 World’s Fair.
Other nearby attractions include Six Flags St. Louis and the Missouri Botanical Garden, on 79 acres, oldest in America and the City Museum, which is an outstanding family experience. St. Louis loves its sports teams as evidenced by the sell-out crowds for hockey at the nearby Scottrade Center and Cardinals baseball at Busch Stadium. While the Cardinals will not be home during the FOCA/AAC period, you can get a ballpark tour (which includes the press box, luxury clubs, field and dugout) at 9:30a, 11a, 12:30p and 2p. Tickets can be bought in advance on the Cardinals official website or from the tour ticket window at Gate 3. Stop by the stadium to see the many beautiful statues including Stan Musial which surround the ballpark.
Travel to St. Louis can be achieved via air, Amtrak train or by auto (parking is $10 per day at the hotel). American, Southwest, Delta, United and Frontier Airlines provide frequent and in many cases, direct service from major metropolitan areas. You can rent a car from the airport, take a taxi or shuttle, or try out the Metrolink. Amtrak no longer serves historic Union Station (site of the hotel) but from new platforms at Gateway Station, a quarter mile away.
Service from Chicago can be reasonable with fares as low as $27 each way (advance purchase) for the five hour plus trip. The Union Station Hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, includes an outdoor pool and a fitness center. St. Louis Union Station, a national historic landmark built in the late 1890’s was once the world’s largest and busiest train station.
The special convention/AAC room rate is $134 (plus tax). Please make sure to mention/ reference “Orthodox Church in America” when making reservations online or by calling (314) 231-1234. The deadline is Friday, June 29, 2018.
The convention will follow the Friday-Monday pattern as far as events, plenary sessions, liturgical services and activities. Friday morning will feature a golf tournament with FOCA and AAC council attendees and guests able to participate, Friday evening will feature a St. Louis-themed open house. Saturday will feature plenary sessions, Vespers, and a Saturday evening dinner event held “under the stars” at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium.
Sunday is highlighted by the hierarchical Divine Liturgy and the grand banquet and dance. Monday concludes with the final plenary session. On Saturday a trolley tour of St. Louis including the Gateway Arch is planned and other tours are presently being considered. Once again, a great opportunity exists for youth to participate in a fun-filled program, coordinated this year with the OCA’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus ministry in partnership with the FOCA.
Please consider supporting the commemorative book, being prepared by the FOCA, co-sponsored with the Orthodox Church in America. Several options ranging in price from $150 for a full page to $20.00 for a one-line patron listing. Ads should be submitted to PDF or word files to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Checks payable to the OCA should be mailed to Donna Tesar, 5068 West 6th Street, Brooklyn Heights, OH 44131. The deadline is June 1, 2018. It’s time for all Orthodox Christian faithful to say “Meet me in St. Louis” as the FOCA convention and the 19th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America come together in faith and fellowship this July.