Father James (Langston)
Igumen (Abbot) of Ss Cosmas & Damian Orthodox Monastic Community
August 13, 1935 - January 30, 2020
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Brother Jim....Monk James....Father James....Jim.....Abbot...Igumen......
The man who answered to all these names passed peacefully from this life in Adventist Hospital Orlando on January 30, accompanied by many prayers of those whose lives he touched, in the community he had faithfully served for some 35 years, ministering to homeless AIDS-afflicted men and helping the poor.
The ministry began in 1985, when he and a small group of Lutheran Franciscan monks opened the doors to sick, ostracized, and dying AIDS-afflicted men. It was more hospice than residence, well known and supported over the early years in the Gay community, and the longest continually operating organization of its kind in the area. It is the present-day St Francis House of Hospitality, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit charity, operated by Orthodox Christian monastics, which provides homes in a residential setting for otherwise homeless men with AIDS.
In the time when fear reigned, there was pressure to require that HIV -positive persons carry a specific identifying card, he and a group of afflicted men went to Washington to speak out against that policy. It was also from this Orlando-based outreach that the first block of the AIDS quilt from Florida was delivered.
James Langston’s journey to the monastic life and work among men with HIV/ AIDS was, however, not a direct route. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, after high school he entered the SS Peter and Paul Monastery in Cumberland, Maryland, but after two years as a friar, left to serve in the US Air Force for four years as a cryptologic linguist, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He attended both the University of Alaska and Boston College, earning a BA in philosophy and an MA in psychology. He married, had two children (Kimberly Ann and Jason Edward), and was successful in business, starting as an usher at the Florida Theater in Jacksonville, and becoming manager after a couple of years, then managing movie theaters from Jacksonville to Orlando, eventually opening the General Cinema theaters in Altamonte and Fashion Square malls.
His business acumen, along with a keen social consciousness, led to serving as Outreach Coordinator of Second Harvest Food Bank for eight years. During that time he was a member of St Paul Lutheran Church in Orlando, where he was in 1987 ordained to the diaconate. Also during that period, in 1985 he initiated the ministry to HIV/AIDS-afflicted men that eventually became the St Francis House of Hospitality today. He found a spiritual home in the Orthodox Church in the 1990s and became an Orthodox monk and founder and executive director of St Francis House of Hospitality, Inc., an outreach of the monastic community. He found his “works” in this outreach to the poor and needy.
He and a small cadre of other dedicated workers that includes monks and religious brothers, work without salary, to continue to serve AIDS-afflicted homeless men, relying now on the generosity of others, individuals, churches and other volunteer non-profits, as well as a partial government grant. This is his legacy to the Orlando community.
He is survived by sisters Marsha Widdows and Judy Crook; brother-in-law, Ed Crook, of Jacksonville; nieces and nephews; Carl Bennett, cousin and childhood friend; and by the monastics of the Orthodox Community of Ss Cosmas & Damian, as well as lay people who staff the houses, donate to the outreach, offer support, all keeping the doors open for the needy, and those he happily and humbly served.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Francis House of Hospitality, 2221 N. Westmoreland Dr., Orlando, FL 32804, or on-line at www.saintfrancishouseorlando.org
Services will be held at the Orthodox Church of St Stephen, 1895 Lake Emma Road, Longwood.
Thursday evening, February 6: Viewing at 6:30pm
Funeral vigil at 7:00 pm
Friday morning, February 7: Divine Liturgy at 10 am
Interment at All Faiths Cemetery, Casselberry
With the Saints give rest to Thy servant, where sickness and sorrow are no more, neither sighing but life everlasting.