The Reverend James R. Parnell was appointed pastor of All Saints Orthodox Church on November 1, 2013. Father James was formerly attached to Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in New Britain, Connecticut while serving as a supply priest for the Diocese of New England.
A native Arkansan, Father James was born and raised in Little Rock in a devout Southern Baptist home. He joined the Army shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001 and began training as an Arabic linguist. He met his wife, Holly (also an Army Veteran), while studying at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Father James and Matushka Holly (Andres) were married in 2007 and have five children: Samuel (b. 2009), Ariane (b. 2011), Eleanor (b. 2013), Sean (b. 2015), and Ingrid (b. 2018).
Father James was stationed at Fort Campbell, KY and deployed twice to Iraq while Matushka Holly was stationed in Germany. After finding a small book of sayings by St. Isaac of Syria in a desert chapel in 2005, his studies began to point him towards Orthodox Christianity as the authentic Christian tradition: the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, as presented by Christ to the Apostles and through them to the early Church. While serving in Iraq in 2007 as an Arabic translator, Father James experienced a definite call to continue his service in the military, but in a different role: as a military chaplain. After a long and prayerful journey, Father James entered the Orthodox Church at the Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, along with his wife and son in 2010.
Later that year, Father James was blessed by Metropolitan JONAH to attend St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, New York. While at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Father James served on the Student Council for three years and served as President from 2011-2013. Father James was ordained to the Diaconate by Metropolitan JONAH on January 29, 2012 at Three Hierarchs Chapel in Yonkers, New York and to the Priesthood later that year by Archbishop NIKON on December 23, 2012 at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in New Britain, Connecticut. Father James graduated cum laude from St. Vladimir’s Seminary on May 18, 2013.
His MDiv Thesis was entitled “Growing from Dragon to Man: A Parish Resource for Reintegrating Orthodox Soldiers and Veterans Returning from War.”
In addition to his duties in the parish, Father James is a Chaplain (Major) in the Connecticut Army National Guard, assigned to the 1-102nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut and a Clinical Chaplain at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in Newington, CT focusing on the spiritual care of those suffering from Moral Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress, Substance Abuse, Acute/Chronic Pain, and Long-term Mental Illness.