From the Tennesseean.com
Saturday, 06/10/06Cafe serves diners in ambiance of Eastern Orthodox Christianity
By RAY WADDLE
OpinionRarely have theology and lasagna been such allies.
One of Nashville's best kept gastro-spiritual secrets is a little cafe/bookshop near Vanderbilt. It offers the ambiance of Eastern Orthodox Christianity — calming ancient Russian hymns, walls of wooden icons — with a menu of sandwiches, hummus plates and espresso.
Alektor Cafe and Books, 1807 Grand Ave., is a ministry, not just a menu, tapping recent trends of interest in ancient liturgy and creeds.
The place is run by a soft-spoken Orthodox priest and his wife, who wanted to create a non-threatening entry point into Orthodoxy for people curious about the beauty and rigor of this ancient branch of the faith.
Their soft-sell approach has borne fruit. The Rev. Parthenios Turner and wife Marion Jessee Turner now lead a worshipping community of 50.
The St. John Chrysostom Greek Orthodox Mission meets at nearby Scarritt-Bennett Center's Laskey building (Sundays at 8:45 a.m. and 10 a.m.; Saturdays at 6 p.m.)
"People are looking for something authentic and rich," the priest says.
"In the Orthodox Church they find genuine continuity with the early church.
"Not just smells and bells — visual images, chanting, creeds, fasting. The experience spans the physical and spiritual."
The cafe retails icons, music and books of prayer and theology. "Father Parthenios" is a spiritual adviser but also one of the cooks.
"I try not to discuss theology while making sandwiches, or I'll make a mess of both."
Outside there's a painted sign of a rooster, "alektor" in Greek. In the New Testament, a rooster crowed after disciple Peter denied Jesus during Christ's ordeal of arrest and execution.
"The rooster symbolizes a double realization — that you've sinned, and that Jesus is the Son of God," says Marion Turner. "To me, it's a moment of grace."
The Turners met in California and came to Nashville (she's a native here) in the 1990s.
Alektor was located off Elliston Place before moving to Grand Avenue three years ago.
Store hours: Tues-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday noon-5 p.m.
Life is getting busy. Tomorrow (June 11) is Pentecost Sunday (Catholics and Protestants observed it last Sunday.)
The Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of America comes to Opryland Resort & Convention Center July 15-21, drawing thousands.
The priest has a weekly radio show of sacred hymns 6-8 a.m. Wednesdays at 91.1 WRVU.
A sign near the cash register quotes Alektor's presiding spirit, ancient St. John Chrysostom (347-407): "Do not fear the conflict, do not flee it; where there is no struggle, there is no virtue. Where faith and love are not tempted, it is not possible to be sure whether they are really present. They are proved and revealed in adversity." ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060610/NEWS06/606100366/1023/NEWS