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Religious order moves in

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Captain's Cove Resort sold for $600,000

By Mallory Bilger

Several months ago, if you went to Captain’s Cove Resort on Taylorsville Lake, you might have found a party or a wedding reception underway.

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Today, if you visit the recently sold secluded getaway at 144 Captain’s Cove Drive off Highway 44, you most likely will find Father Seraphim Thomas Hicks — who prefers to be identified as Seraphim — praying in the building that was once known as the reception hall. That hall is being transformed into a chapel and the land is now home to St. Simeon Skete — a prayer-centered destination that promises clergy members and other deeply spiritual people an opportunity to get closer to God through a disciplined prayer life.

“It’s not a spiritual vacation,” said Hicks, noting that participants would be required to start their days at 3:30 a.m. and a portion of the day not spent in prayer would include manual labor. “It’s a very hard life because it is very demanding.”

Captain Cove’s previous owners, Denny and Joan Markwell, of Lawrenceburg, sold the 10-acre resort this month to Nazareth House Apostolate, a Louisville-based humanitarian organization adhering to a Christian faith that describes itself as pre-denominational. Seraphim is the head of that organization and said his faith is best described as orthodox anglican, which pays homage to the earliest biblical church of the first through seventh centuries, before Christian denominations such as Catholic and Protestant were created. The organization identifies itself with the national group known as the Anglican Province of Christ the King. Seraphim also is currently the rector at Grace Chapel in Louisville, which also aligns itself with the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

“I felt it was important to find a place that embodied those first seven centuries,” Seraphim said.

St. Simeon Skete is a development that will soon include small cottages, also known as hermitages, which will house the establishment’s visitors. Seraphim and his wife, Vicki, currently live in the building formerly known as the chalet. Plans are also underway to renovate the chalet and create cells within it. Plans include taking out the pool and making the area more “ordinary” to reflect the idea that God’s extraordinary power is found in everyday surroundings.

“It’s much too fancy,” Seraphim said of Captain’s Cove. “It’s beautiful but it’s much more than we need.”

Vicki said St. Simeon Skete would start out with three hermitages and would expand as needed. The chapel renovation is estimated to be completed in the next month or two.

Vicki said her husband searched for a place to locate St. Simeon Skete for 45 years. Although many locations were considered, she said Captain’s Cove was the perfect secluded location and the price of $600,000 was right. Funding for St. Simeon Skete was provided by the Anglican Province of Christ the King. According to the property transfer between the Markwells and Nazareth House Apostolate, the land was paid for in cash. When asked how the establishment is funded, Seraphim replied, “We beg. Everything we do, we beg,” noting that he has taken a vow of poverty.

He added that his goal is to one day make St. Simeon Skete completely self-sustaining, growing its own food and harnessing solar energy.

The Markwells said they were comfortable selling their property to Seraphim and Vicki, noting that the establishment appears it will be quiet and respective of the community. Joan said she and her husband sold Captain’s Cove not because it was losing money, but because upkeep had become cumbersome. She added that she and Denny wanted to make the resort a trailhead for the state park’s horse trails — meaning riders could access the trails from Captain’s Cove — but that endeavor became too much work for the couple.

“It just became such a backlog of having to deal with different government entities and trying to get the trail system expanded that I think we reached past frustration in dealing with it,” Joan said. “We realized it was going to be several years before everybody could get their heads together to do something simple.”

And the Markwells admitted that Captain’s Cove became more work than they estimated it would be, noting that potential visitors still called almost daily asking to rent the chalet.

“We just decided that maybe it wasn’t for us,” she said.

Denny said he he recognized the community probably had lots of questions about St. Simeon Skete.

“There’s probably been rumors that they are all kinds of weird things, but they are not. They are super-nice people. (Captain’s Cove) was meant for this,” Denny said.

Seraphim said he recognized that community members might be uncomfortable with the idea of a religious community in Spencer County, but encouraged people with questions to visit or call. He said St. Simeon Skete would probably not promote lots of community-based events or public involvement, noting that those staying there will be focused on prayer.

“You will know we are here if the community gets better,” he said.

Eventually he said the chapel will also be open to the public for Sunday morning services but said St. Simeon Skete is not intended for vacationers or anyone looking for recreation.

Seraphim said one gentleman, whose name was not released, has already committed to coming to the facility. Vicki said she expects at least one hermitage to be built in the next month. The couple also said they plan in the future to invite community members to St. Simeon Skete to learn more about the organization.

For more information about Nazareth House Apostolate or the beliefs of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, visit the following web sites: http://www.anglicanpck.org and http://www.nazarethhouseap.org.