A graduate of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Bittle was assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity in the summer of 2004.
Fr. Joseph was raised in the United Methodist Church, but in his late teens, as he sought to deepen his understanding of “the church” and Christian discipleship, he initially entered the Roman Catholic Church.
While still Roman Catholic, Fr. Joseph completed his college studies within their seminary system, spending two of those years in New York City discerning a possible call to join the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a religious order founded by the well know EWTN personality, Fr. Benedict Greoschel. While in New York, now with a Byzantine Rite Catholic priest as a spiritual director, and regularly taking the opportunity to visit the bookstore of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and occasionally attending services in the seminary chapel, he came to know and love the Eastern Orthodox tradition, although initially only seeing it as an enhancement of his own Roman Catholic commitment.
Graduating from college in 1993, with many questions and uncomfortable with the idea of continuing studies for the Roman Catholic priesthood, he returned to his home town of Memphis, TN. While in Memphis, Fr. Joseph continued his personal theological studies and eventually found himself a regular visitor at St. John Orthodox Church. In 1996, on the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, he was received into Holy Orthodoxy by Fr. John Troy Mashburn.
After several years as a parishioner at St. John, with the blessing of Bishop BASIL Essey and the approval of Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba, Fr. Joseph began studies at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. In Spring 2003, he graduated from St. Vladimir’s, having completed his Master of Divinity thesis entitled From the Beginning: Gender and the Theology of the Body. While in his final year of seminary he met his beloved bride, Johanna, and they were married on November 1, 2003 at St. John Orthodox Church in Memphis. In January and February 2004, respectively, he was ordained to the Diaconate and the Priesthood by Bishop BASIL as Joseph Seraphim under the patronage of St. Joseph the Betrothed and St. Seraphim of Sarov.
In February 2015, Fr. Joseph was raised to the dignity of Archpriest, becoming “Very Reverend Father.”
Fr. Joseph and Kh. Johanna are blessed with six young children.