Afterwards, all were invited to share in the festal banquet, which was served outdoors with tables beautifully set, adorned with blue tablecloths and flower arrangements on each table under white canopies overhead providing comfortable shade from the summer sun. The banquet was organized by Natalie Sabelnik and her family with the help of some other locals, Kira Poluektov and her sister-in-law, Elena Poluektov, Maria Litvinova-Lysenko, Michael Menko, Aliona Russie and the invaluable assistance from Mother Gabriela. Many of the guests responded favorably by bringing a variety of dishes to share in the potluck lunch. The food table was overflowing with an array of salads, main dishes, side dishes, appetizers, breads, desserts and fruit. Especially touching was also how many young adults attended the service and lunch. St. John's Russian Orthodox Youth group, coordinated by Olga Yakoubovsky (commemorating her Saint’s Day), also contributed much to the variety of food at the table. The youngest helper, 11-year old Anastasia Sarandinaki eagerly assisted in setting up, serving and cleaning up throughout the entire day.
Archbishop Kyrill thanked all who had helped organize the celebration, commenting on the unprecedented number of people (over 100) who came to share the feast together. He announced that the next service at the church would be held on Saturday, August 21 and invited all to come back for the service and the lunch. He also announced that Victoria Sabelnik, who helped with all aspects of the preparations, setup and cleanup, including all the floral decorations, would be the official coordinator of the luncheons (trapezas) from now on.
While the church has no sisterhood, no actual membership or dues, no permanent clergy, the entire celebration, including the abundance of pot luck food that was shared by the many attendees, locals and guests from neighboring parishes, the SF Bay Area, Sacramento and as far away as Bakersfield and Los Angeles. Much of the equipment and supplies for the Feast Day were sponsored and paid for by the Russian American Women’s League and the Congress of Russian Americans.
It seemed that the church had again survived trials during the past years, including the devastating effects of the pandemic, numerous disastrous floods and a surge of countless California wildfires and yet, has been miraculously strengthened, as services were again resurrected this year in May. One of the long-time residents of Russian River, Matushka Margarita Poluektov, whose husband, the late Rev. Alexey Poluektov was rector of the Our Lady of Kazan church in San Francisco (Feast Day commemorated November 4), commented how the Feast Day event this year “surpassed all her expectations”. She said, “it was like seeing some flowers or mushrooms spring up in a long-forgotten place”.