Profiles of Missions in the Diocese of Toledo
The following mission profiles were compiled between 2008 and 2011. They are archived here in order of publication, most recent first.
St. Luke the Evangelist Mission began in 2002 under the guidance of Archpriest Elias Meena to provide an Orthodox Christian witness to the East side of the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. There are over two dozen Orthodox parishes in the region, but most of them are located either in central Cleveland or on the West side. The mission’s initial efforts under Fr. Meena included founding a community in the greater Solon area, the purchase of property for a permanent location, and the preparation of architectural plans for a church temple and hall.
Sadly, Fr. Meena’s untimely death in the summer of 2005 significantly curtailed the momentum of St. Luke’s. After Fr. Meena’s repose, the mission was served by two more priests on a part-time basis.
St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Peoria, Illinois began in 2005 under the guidance of Fr. Peter Gillquist, Mission Director of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois to spread the word of God’s truth through the teachings of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, with an invitation for all to become followers of the Orthodox Christian faith and members of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Mission.
In June 2005, His Grace Bishop Mark ordained Fr. Habib Ghantous into the priesthood during the Parish Life Conference hosted by St. George Orthodox Church, Cicero, Illinois where he was serving as a Deacon.
On July 16, 2005, His Grace, Bishop Mark came to Peoria, IL to bless the newly renovated building where we currently hold our worship services.
When a group of Orthodox Christians began meeting once a month in 1999 to celebrate the Divine Liturgy mostly in Arabic, little did they imagine they would grow into a dynamic, all-English-speaking mission comprised of people from all ethnic backgrounds. Located between two large universities, St. Catherine of Alexandria Mission in Ann Arbor, Michigan has become a spiritual home for students and faculty, young and old, “cradle” and “convert.” St. Catherine’s is dedicated to participatory worship, spiritual growth, education, evangelism, and service – but it is best defined by its members’ warmth and hospitality.
From humble beginnings in 1999, this mission grew with fits and starts. For much of its history, it did not have a resident priest and the times and places of worship varied from month-to-month, or even week-to-week. But a core group of dedicated Orthodox faithfully tended to the seedling of the Church that God had planted. Bp. MARK appointed Fr. Benjamin Johnson as its resident priest in 2008.
“Oh Lord, save thy people ….”
In July 2005, thirty three people made a life-changing pilgrimage from Wittenberg (birthplace of Lutheranism) to Antioch. We spent our first year at St. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, Michigan under the tutelage of Fr. Daniel Daly, aided by Fr. John Winfrey from St. George. Our priest, Fr. Gregory Hogg, was ordained to the holy priesthood in March, 2006 at St. James/Williamston (see picture at left) and a few months later we began services as Holy Cross Mission in Dorr, Michigan.
By the blessing of God and the prayers of his people, we purchased our first building in the summer of 2007. Several months’ hard work, guided by the wise counsel of Bishop MARK, has given us a home of our own in which to worship God, love each other, and serve our community. We want to be an active and living witness for Orthodoxy in a region of West Michigan that is presently not served by an Orthodox church: to bring the fullness of the faith to people who need to know the life-changing power of the cross of Christ.
Holy Cross is served by Fr. Gregory Hogg, who works as an Affiliate Professor in the Philosophy department of Grand Valley State University. In addition, Fr. Steven Van Bronkhorst is attached to our mission as a priest. Fr. Steven works with the Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority. Both Frs. Gregory and Steven are active in campus ministry, having founded chapters of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship on the campuses of Grand Valley State, Hope College in Holland, and Calvin College in Grand Rapids.
What do you get when you mix together one hundred people who live in a forty mile radius around the capitol city of Ohio, with a range of ages from newborns to those long retired, from almost every populated continent on the earth? You get St. Barnabas Mission in Columbus, Ohio. Many more people have come and gone with moves and job transfers in and out of a city that contains one of the largest universities in the country, major facilities of large financial institutions, major retail businesses, and large manufacturing enterprises.
It was because of the potential for growth of a new mission that five families began meeting in 1999 to begin the mission. Meeting in homes for a short while, the new group began renting the church of St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church and meeting on Sunday evenings. Fr. Gordon Walker, with a special love for Columbus, was appointed to shepherd the new mission. Divine Liturgies were held on Sunday evenings with visiting clergy and Fr. Gordon when he was able to get to Columbus from Tennessee. New families began to come and slow growth began to occur.
Saint Mary of Egypt Mission is located in Greenwood, Indiana, a city south of Indianapolis. The mission is supported by our offerings and the prayers and assistance of our sister church, St. George of Indianapolis and the guidance of their pastor, the V. Rev. Fr. Nabil Hanna. Our pastor is the V. Rev. Fr. Athanasius Wilson, formerly of All Saints Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana. We are presently worshiping in a rented facility at the Knights of Columbus in Greenwood.
The Saint Mary of Egypt mission began on April 22nd, 2007 with seven souls. Since the early nineteen-seventies, when Fr. Athanasius was a member of St. George, he had always dreamed of an Orthodox parish on the south side of Indianapolis. All of the area's five other parishes were on the north side of Indianapolis. After his retirement the Lord afforded Fr. Athanasius the opportunity, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Mark, to begin a mission there. There has never been an Orthodox parish in this area, and the opportunities for witness to the Holy Faith are unlimited.
The Cape Girardeau Orthodox Mission is a new eastern-rite mission of the North American Antiochian Archdiocese, under the direction of Bishop MARK in the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. The endeavor to establish a mission in southern Missouri began in the spring of 2008 when Father Steven Salaris of All Saint of North America began developing contacts.
The effort took a big step forward in June 2008 when Jim Mackoul (now Deacon) began traveling to Cape Girardeau to investigate the possibility. Contacts were made with several Orthodox Christians living in the surrounding area. It was easy to see that there was high level of interest among the faithful. We hit the ground running. By early July 2008 we offered daily Vespers on Wednesday evenings. By late July, we had found a location in which we could hold services and began scheduling Great Vespers, Orthros, and Divine Liturgy. The mission consists of American, Syrian, Greek, and Bulgarian Orthodox. Everyone is welcome, inquirers and non-Orthodox alike. We’re here to serve. With God’s help we’ve planted our little mission. By the grace of God, we’ll nurture it and make it grow. By spring of 2009, we hope to make the next step and move into a semi-permanent location near the downtown in Cape Girardeau, somewhere close to the university.
Holy Incarnation is a Western Rite mission serving metropolitan Detroit, Michigan under the leadership of Fr. John Fenton. Prior to the spring of 2008, Holy Incarnation had been leasing space from a local Episcopal church, but in February the mission concluded the purchase of a building to serve as its permanent home.
The new church building is an important step in the re-establishment of a Western Rite Orthodox parish in metropolitan Detroit. From 1975-2001, Incarnation Orthodox Church in Detroit served the liturgical needs of Western Rite Orthodox Christians in and around Detroit, and was the cornerstone of the Western Orthodoxy in the Midwest. Fr Fenton explained that Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church builds on the legacy of the former Incarnation parish. “We are the beneficiaries of years of sacrificial giving,” said Fr. Fenton, “because the funds held in trust after the closing of Incarnation have helped finance the new facility for Holy Incarnation.” Fr. Fenton stated the new building will further the permanent re-establishment of a Western Rite presence in Detroit.
Bowling Green, KY
Holy Apostles Mission is a mission of the Midwest Diocese of the North American Antiochian Archdiocese. The mission's congregation, which currently consists of Americans, Greeks, Serbians, Egyptians, and a growing compilation of other ethnicities, first began working toward a mission in the spring of 2008, with a small group of diverse and dedicated Orthodox Christians who long to see Holy Orthodoxy brought to southern Kentucky. Holy Apostles held its first Vespers service in April 2008, and celebrated its first Liturgy in June, the first Divine Liturgy ever to be held in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It received the name Holy Apostles in July 2008.
Iowa City, IA
Since our beginning in 2002, God has blessed our mission with “growth” in multiple senses of the word. From an initial handful, our group has grown to include a roster of about 100, with Sunday liturgy attendance averaging 50-60. A large percentage of us are children. Our members include “cradle” Orthodox and converts, representing many nationalities including Syrians, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Greeks, Lebanese, Georgians and Americans, all worshipping together in English. We usually have a group of catechumens and several inquirers. We are blessed to be truly pan-Orthodox!
Whether you live in Iowa City or elsewhere, we invite you to share in our life of prayer and worship and the building of this church. If you live far away, you can participate through your prayers and donations, both to our mission and to missions across the archdiocese. We benefit every time you pray for us and commemorate us in the liturgy. And of course, we would welcome you with open arms if you ever happen to pass through our community!
Maryland Heights, MO
In early 2003, Fr. Peter Gillquist and the Department of Missions and Evangelism were contacted by some of the faithful in St. Louis about the possibility of beginning an all-English Orthodox mission the greater St. Louis area. The project was soon underway and in October of 2003, a core group of people met with Fr. Michael Keiser (mission priest) who then recommended to the Archdiocese that a mission be planted. On November 22 and 23, after several weeks of Readers services, the mission’s first Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy with a priest (Fr. George Geevarghese from Louisville, KY) were celebrated in the basement-turned-chapel at the home of one of the mission’s core members. The mission had been launched!