Father Jacob Myers
ATLANTA, GA - Father Jacob Myers, the rector of St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Grant Park, Ga., died Wednesday evening at Emory Hospital following complications from pneumonia. He was 64.
Fr. Myers was born Philip Myers, the first child of Albert and Polly Myers of Springfield, Ill. After graduating from Springfield High School in 1966, he attended Northwestern University, where he received a B.S. in business administration in 1970. After college, he partnered with his father, a successful merchant, in marketing clothing to young people. He played an active role in the youth community of Springfield, promoting mutual respect between generations and serving as a producer for several charity concerts.
In 1971, Myers underwent a religious transformation that set the course for the rest of his life, joining a nondenominational Christian religious order that focused on serving the needs of the poorest and most neglected members of society. He became a pastor and for the next fifteen years traveled the country expanding the group's reach, while continuing to serve the needy.
He married Rebecca (née Nancy Louise Morton) in 1984 in San Francisco. Within a few years, their family had grown to include two daughters.
In 1986, Jacob, Rebecca, and their family, along with many fellow group members, were received into the Eastern Orthodox Church and planted roots in Atlanta. He was ordained as a priest and immediately began establishing what was then Blessed John Orthodox Church, the first church to be named for Saint John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco in the United States. In 2000, the entire church was received into the Orthodox Church in America, an independent branch of Orthodox Christianity.
Under Fr. Myers's leadership, the church, now known as St. John the Wonderworker, focused on instilling a deep experience of Orthodox Christianity, with a special emphasis on serving the needs of the poor, the disadvantaged, and the physically or mentally challenged. Fr. Myers created the Loaves and Fishes program, which, with the help of many volunteers and donations, provides hot food for the underprivileged twice daily, five days a week. Every year at Christmas, the program delivers gift and food boxes to hundreds of families and serves a full dinner on Christmas Day. The program distributes food, clothing, and emergency supplies to the needy year-round, utilizing donations from businesses and other churches and the services of volunteers from all over the city. Every year, without fail, Fr. Myers led his congregation in celebrations of the Nativity and Paschal liturgies, commencing late at night and lasting into the morning hours.
Fr. Myers also focused on outreach. He used his skills in photography and computers to create a copious website for the Church, featuring hundreds of links, sermons, spiritual recordings, photos, and parish news. The church also runs an Orthodox Christian school for the elementary, middle, and high school grades. Over the years, Fr. Myers assembled one of the largest collections of Orthodox icons and relics in the South.
Fr. Myers is remembered for his heartfelt devotion to the precepts of ancient Christianity, including treating each person, no matter what their background or situation, as a brother or sister in Christ. He made himself available to the needs of his parish and the wider community, serving Divine Liturgy three times per week and overseeing a regular schedule of services on other days. In addition, he believed in intense daily prayer and communion with the saints of the church, for whose intercession he encouraged his parishioners to pray as often as possible.
Though he most prized the virtues of humility, piety, and charity, in person, Fr. Myers was also known for his endearing sense of humor and for finding creative ways to encourage his parishioners to model Christian virtue in all their affairs.
Fr. Myers is survived by his wife Rebecca Myers; two daughters, Brigitta Nicole Myers and Gabrielle Elizabeth Myers; one grandson, Solomon Grey Morris Coker; a sister, Marilyn Silver of Springfield, Ill., a brother, Albert Myers of Covington, La., and several nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be at 3 p.m., Fri., Jan. 25, 2013, at St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church, 543 Oakland Ave. SE in Atlanta. A funeral service will follow at 7 p.m. On Sat., Jan. 26, there will be a memorial liturgy, commencing at 9 a.m. at St. John Church, followed by interment at Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta.
Floral arrangements in memory of Fr. Myers are welcome and should be sent to St. John Church. Those desiring to make charitable contributions are asked to consider a donation either to the Loaves and Fishes Program at St. John's Church, or to the church itself.
A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home in Decatur, Ga., is serving the family.