Saint Sophia Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
225 Rose Drive, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Administration
Fr Jeremiah Phillips
Priest
frjeremiahphillips@gmail.com
Reverend Jeremiah Phillips
Rev. Fr Jeremiah Phillips, Proistamenos (Pastor)

Fr Jeremiah was born and raised in Southern California. He was raised in the Evangelical/Non-denominational stream of Protestantism. After graduating high school, he entered California Baptist University for his undergraduate studies, earning a BA in Graphic Design and Digital Media upon graduating in 2009. During his time at CBU, he desired to get more serious and engaged in his faith. Apart of this process was to work towards gaining a greater understanding of his Protestant theology. This led to him to attending a more theologically serious Southern Baptist church, with some Reformed theological leanings. To add another layer to this time, in the spring semester of his junior year, he took a class on the rise of Islam and its interaction with Christianity entitled "The Cross and the Crescent." This class just happened to be taught by the local Orthodox priest. It was through this class, as well as conversations with friends inquiring about the Orthodox Church, that he began to learn, for the first time, a little about the Orthodox Church. After the semester ended and with his interest piqued, Fr Jeremiah scheduled regular coffee meetings during the summer with his Orthodox priest-professor to inquire about Orthodoxy, but it wasn't until mid-August- eight months since first learning about the Orthodox Church- that he actually attended an Orthodox Christian service. But, once he finally did, he knew there was something real and substantial there that he would never find in the Protestant world he was raised in. Two months later he was enrolled as a catechumen, and was baptized into the Orthodox Church the next year on Holy Saturday 2009- two weeks before he would graduate from CBU.

After graduating, he had a difficult time figuring out what direction he wanted to go in life. Eventually, he began working at a local bank, working there for four and a half years before leaving for seminary. In 2012, he began courting his wife, Presbytera Katherine, and they were married in March 2013. Following their marriage, Father and Presbytera, in consultation with their spiritual father, began to earnestly discern if Father should work towards attending seminary and ordination to the Holy Priesthood. This process led the young family to uproot their lives and move to New York to attend St Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2015. While at seminary, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on December 11, 2016 and, almost a year later, on November 26, 2017, to the Holy Priesthood. After three years of study, he earned his Master of Divinity, graduating from St Vladimir Seminary in 2018. Later that summer, he was given his first assignment as Assistant Priest at St George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, KS. Despite knowing his time would be limited in Wichita, it still came as a shock when he was assigned two years later as Pastor of St Sophia Orthodox Church in Dripping Springs, TX. And so, in August 2020, the Phillips family once again uprooted themselves- hopefully for the last time- to the Hill Country of Central Texas, where he is praying for a long and fruitful ministry at St Sophia.

Father Jeremiah and Presbytera have been blessed with five children thus far in their marriage.

Bishop BASIL
His Grace, Bishop BASIL of Wichita & Mid-America

Bishop Basil was born in Monessen, PA on November 26, 1948, the only son and eldest of three children of William and Genevieve Essey (ﻋـﻴـﺴـﻰ). He was baptized on April 17, 1949 at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Monessen and raised at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Monessen.

His Grace received his primary and secondary education in the public schools of Monessen, and in 1970 he received his B.A. in Psychology from California State University of Pennsylvania in California, PA. He entered St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY in 1970, from which he received his M.Div. in 1973 and, in 2010, was awarded a D.D. honoris causa.

From 1973 until 1975 Bishop Basil served as pastoral assistant at St. George Church in Detroit, MI and from 1975 until 1986 he served as the first director of the Archdiocese’s Department of Youth Affairs with offices at the main chancery of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in Englewood, NJ. While working in that capacity, he served as instructor of Contemporary Byzantine Chant at St. Vladimir’s Seminary from 1980 until 1986; in 2010 the Seminary's Board of Trustees established the Bishop Basil Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music, a concentrated course of study in Byzantine chant. During 1986 and 1987 he resided at the St. John of Damascus Patriarchal Institute of Theology at the Balamand Monastery of the Dormition in the al-Koura region of north Lebanon where he studied, taught and did research and translations for The Liturgikon: The Book of Divine Services for the Priest and Deacon which was published by the Archdiocese’s Antakya Press in 1989 (reprinted in 1994 and 2010).

Bishop Basil was tonsured a reader by the late Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) at St Michael Church in Monessen on October 27, 1964, and ordained to the subdiaconate and diaconate by Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) at St Ignatius of Antioch Church at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA on September 30, 1979. On January 27, 1980 he was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Philip at St Anthony Church in Bergenfield, NJ and on October 9, 1988 was elevated to the dignity of archimandrite by Metropolitan Philip at St George Church in Wichita, KS.

From July 1, 1987 until his consecration to the episcopacy in 1992, he served as priest at St. George Church in Wichita, KS. During his pastorate the new church temple was erected, consecrated and elevated to the status of Cathedral on April 21, 1991. He received monastic tonsure to the Lesser Schema at the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knight by Maldon, Essex, England, during the night between January 19 and 20, 2003 by the monastery’s abbot, Archimandrite Kyrill. His Grace was nominated for bishop (Auxiliary to Metropolitan Philip) by the General Assembly of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on July 26, 1991, and was elected to the episcopacy (with the titular see of Enfeh al-Koura in north Lebanon) by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East on November 14, 1991. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on May 31, 1992 at St George Cathedral in Wichita, KS by Metropolitan Philip of the Archdiocese of North America, Metropolitan Elias (Audi) of the Archdiocese of Beirut, Bishop Antoun (Khouri) titular bishop of Seleucia and auxiliary of the Archdiocese of North America, and the late Archbishop Michael (Shaheen) of Toledo, OH, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of North America. From 1992 until 1995 he resided at the Los Angeles Chancery, and in September 1995 he took up residence at the Wichita Chancery. By a decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate dated October 9, 2003, His Grace became a diocesan bishop and, since his enthronement on December 15, 2004, bears the title of Bishop of Wichita and the Diocese of Mid-America.

Bishop Basil co-chaired the Joint OCA-Antiochian Canonization Commission which led to the glorification of Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn on May 29, 2000. His Grace oversaw the publication of the book containing St. Raphael’s Vita, Akolouthia and Akathist (Antakya Press 2000), arranged the hymnography for St. Raphael to Byzantine melodies, and directed the Clergy Brotherhood Choir which recorded an audio CD of the hymns for the feast of St. Raphael (Antakya Press 2001). In November 2002 His Grace headed the delegation from the Archdiocese of North America which met in Geneva, Switzerland with the delegation from the Patriarchate of Antioch to reach agreement on the basic principles of Self-Rule for the Archdiocese of North America. In May 2010 he was elected Secretary of the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.

His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Basil, now resides at the Chancery of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. The Diocesan Cathedral of St. George is located at 7515 East 13th Street at Broadmoor, Wichita, KS  67206-1223.

Metropolitan JOSEPH
His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH

His Eminence, the Most Reverend Joseph, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, was born in Damascus, Syria, on November 2, 1950, the fifth of six children born to Georgi and Mathilda al-Zehlaoui. Throughout his life, he has been a loyal son of Antioch, a devoted spiritual father in North America, and a leader on the global stage.

His Eminence oversees almost 300 parishes and missions in the United States and Canada from the archdiocesan headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey. Six auxiliary bishops aid him in his administration of the eight dioceses that comprise the Archdiocese of North America.

Metropolitan Joseph completed his undergraduate studies at the Lebanese University in Beirut and earned his Master of Theology (M.Th.) Degree with special studies in music and languages from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. In 1995, His Eminence came to the Archdiocese to serve as an auxiliary bishop based in Los Angeles, California. On July 3, 2014, the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch and all the East, under the presidency of His Beatitude, Patriarch John X, elected His Eminence as the Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America.

His Eminence is a member of the Holy Synod of Antioch, the mother church of the Antiochian Archdiocese. He leads the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees as its chairman. His Eminence is the vice chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States of America. He meets regularly with the executive committee as he furthers the cause of unity and cooperation among the various Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, especially in response to critical issues of the day like the Coronavirus. His Eminence also participates in CAMECT (Christian Arab and Middle Eastern Churches Together), a body that ensures the welfare of Middle Eastern Christians domestically and abroad.

Metropolitan Joseph meets with governmental leaders in New York, Washington, D.C. and around the world to provide his unique perspective and expertise on various issues concerning the Orthodox Church in the U.S. and Canada, the mother church, and the peoples of the Middle East. This includes sessions with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

During his tenure in the holy episcopacy, Metropolitan Joseph has led pilgrimages and participated in official delegations internationally, fostering goodwill in Jesus Christ between his archdiocese and Orthodox Churches around the world. In pilgrimages, Metropolitan Joseph took scores of clergy and laity – including young adults – to holy sites in Lebanon, Syria, Russia, Greece and Serbia to discover their spiritual roots. In his tenure as Metropolitan Archbishop, His Eminence took part in official, irenic meetings with Their Beatitudes Patriarch Ignatius IV and Patriarch John X of Antioch, as well as with Their Holinesses Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Patriarch Irinej of Serbia.

Education in the Orthodox Christian life is of utmost importance to His Eminence. To that end, upon his election as Metropolitan in 2014, he established The Antiochian Orthodox Institute in La Verne, California, having merged into it the well-established Antiochian House of Studies, combing resources and talents to make one strong educational entity. In its commitment to higher learning in Applied Orthodox Theology and Christian Theology in the Eastern Tradition, the Institute trains future generations of clergy and lay leaders. His Eminence serves as chairman of its board of trustees.

Metropolitan Joseph is fluent in English, Arabic and Greek and is conversant in other European languages. His patron saint is St. Joseph of Arimathaea, whom the Orthodox Church commemorates on the third Sunday of Pascha.

​Metropolitan Joseph completed his basic schooling at the St. John of Damascus and al-Assiyeh schools in Damascus and then at Our Lady of Balamand Monastery and Seminary in Koura, Lebanon.  He completed his undergraduate studies at the Lebanese University in Beirut and then earned his Master of Theology (M.Th.) Degree with special studies in music and languages from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. He was awarded honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania in 2010, and from St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in Tuckahoe, New York in 2015.

With the blessing of His Beatitude, Patriarch Elias IV of Antioch, His Eminence, Metropolitan Panteleimon (Rodopoulos) of Thessaloniki, Greece ordained him to the diaconate on December 4, 1976. His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch – Metropolitan Joseph's spiritual father since his days as a student and seminarian at Balamand – ordained him a priest on December 10, 1980 in Damascus, Syria.  The Priest Joseph served as dean of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Damascus ("Al-Mariamieh") and as overseer of Holy Cross Church and other parishes in the surrounding area.  He served as superintendent of al-Assiyeh Three Hierarchs secondary school in Damascus from 1980-83.  He then went abroad to pastor the Antiochian Orthodox Church in London, England, from 1983-84 and the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cyprus from 1986-91. In between these assignments, he ministered in Damascus.

Metropolitan Joseph was elected and consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy on June 30, 1991 at the Cathedral of the Dormition in Damascus with the title of "Bishop of Katana." He served as the assistant to Patriarch Ignatius and secretary of the Holy Synod. In 1995, Patriarch Ignatius blessed then-Bishop Joseph to serve in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. His predecessor, His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip (Saliba), assigned then-Bishop Joseph to the Diocese of Los Angeles and West, which he continues to shepherd directly, in addition to his duties as Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese.

On December 11, 2011, at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos at Balamand, Patriarch Ignatius elevated Bishop Joseph to the rank of Archbishop in honor of his many years of service as a hierarch in both our Archdiocese and our Patriarchate. On July 3, 2014, the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch, under the presidency of Patriarch John X, elected His Eminence as the Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America.

Metropolitan Joseph's achievements in apostolic ministry over the course of more than 25 years in North America bear witness to his spiritual, ethical, and personal leadership qualifications. His Eminence has maintained a personal culture of contact with all his clergy. Many of the clergy and laity testify that His Eminence always remembers and acts on any important issue placed before him. This unique combination of traits, sobriety and blameless familiarity form the bedrock for his personal effectiveness with all.

With his own spiritual, ascetical, and intellectual formation in his life in Christ, His Eminence has established enriching and meaningful annual Clergy Seminars in the West. He has deepened the spiritual and educational experience of both clergy and laity at the annual Parish Life Conferences and Archdiocesan Conventions. To that end, he has hosted a multitude of Orthodox leaders, monastics, authors and theologians. This has promoted a strong sense of clergy brotherhood and inter-parochial exchanges, admired by Orthodox jurisdictions everywhere. His Eminence has labored intensely to deepen the spiritual life of his clergy by encouraging frequent confession, personal prayer, continual education, and a heightened sense of the fullness of our Orthodox Christian tradition of interior and ascetical transfiguration in Christ.

Metropolitan Joseph has taken care in establishing a strong, clear, and straightforward liturgical guidance for all his parishes to ensure proper worship of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, and veneration of the Holy Virgin Mary and His Saints. Metropolitan Joseph pioneered the use of the internet in publishing the entire texts of all the Sunday, Lenten and Festal services of the Church throughout the year.  His love for the divine services inspires him to improve the liturgical praxis of the clergy, chanters, choir and laity through constant interactions and special teachings. In addition, His Eminence constantly promotes the spiritual climate of the Archdiocese with simple, personal actions as the "Thought for the Day" which appears on Antiochian.org.​