St. Nicholas Parish History
Over 75 Years as a Family in Christ!
On Sunday, December 11, 1938, a dream was fulfilled by the founding fathers of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church of Warren, Ohio. The First Divine Liturgy was served by the Reverend Father Stephan Varzaly of Rankin, Pennsylvania. Through his intercession the congregation was served by temporary pastors until the Reverend Father Joseph Simko assumed duties; first as a Deacon, then in 1940, he was Ordained to the Holy Priesthood and became the first pastor of Saint Nicholas Church.
Father Simko and his band of faithful followers had a strenuous time; there’s been so much to do and so little to do it with. But through urgent prayers, sacrifice, hard work and God's bountiful blessings, hardships were overcome. In 1941 the Vine Street Church was purchased for $12,000.00 dollars. And within one year's time both interior and exterior of the Church and Parish Home had been renovated, involving a cash expenditure of over $3,000.00 dollars.
The founding fathers who gave so much of themselves in time, labor, and love were: Mr. & Mrs. John Butchko Sr., Mr. & Mrs. Michael Krupey, Mr. & Mrs. Vasil Kunichko, Mr. & Mrs. John Mickey, Sam Fuchilla, Andrew Sestzko, Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Polovka Sr., Mr. & Mrs. John Babey and Mr. & Mrs. Michael Matyas.
The Church was officially dedicated and blessed on Sunday, June 7, 1942 by the Most Reverend Bishop Orestes P. Chornock.
During the following years the Church progressed with great vitality. Many improvements were made. Icons were purchased, an Icon screen was made. Chalices, crosses and other religious articles were donated by parishioners in thanksgiving for God's abundant bless-ings. With the cooperation of pastor, parishioners and the enthusiasm and dedication of the Altar Society, Saint Nicholas Parish flourished. Funds for the building fund were raised from dances at the different homes of parishioners who had farms, the Kunichko's, the Serbin's and the Matyas'.
The music was provided by the young 13-year-old Andrew Krupey with his accordion. There were many "Predstavlenie" or "Church Plays" during this time. Funds were also raised by dinners and donations from the parishioners. The mortgage was paid off five years earlier than expected.
In 1946-1953 Saint Nicholas Church was again served by temporary pastors. Father Ivan Ladyzynski assumed duties in 1953. Under his pastorship, the Church and rectory were remodeled and the Church Hall basement was redecorated with pine paneling.
In 1960, under the guidance of their new pastor, the Reverend Father Nicholas Solak, a new Icon screen was blessed and dedicated. The new Icon screen and other Liturgical appointments were a labor of love for Father Solak, Michael Krupcy, Andrew Vekela and Peter Delida. The Church Choir became active at this time. With the aid of the musically-talented Father Nicholas Solak, beautiful choral music was published and learned.
In March of 1963 the pastorate was assumed by the Reverend Father Andrew Hutnyan. Under Father Hutnyan's guidance the spiritual growth of the parish was channeled into many parish organizations. Pastoral Society, Sunday school, Junior Youth Club and Altar Boy Club along with the Sunday Herald, the Church bulletin, all added to the stability of the parish.
In 1970 a building fund was initiated. In 1971 eleven acres of land were purchased with the hopes of building a new complex consisting of a Church, Social Hall, Parish Home and picnic grounds.
Construction on a beautiful colonial style Rectory was completed under the guidance of the new, pastor, the Reverend R. Michael Zak. Father Zak was assigned as pastor in 1975. The new Rectory was blessed by His Excellency, Bishop John R. Martin on Sunday, June 12, 1977. A Banquet was held at De Vieste Restaurant. Under Father Zak's guidance funds were raised to see the dream of a new complex a reality. But because of strict E.P.A. regulations, it was no longer feasible to build the new complex on the North Leavitt Road property. The Church Board began to seek out alternatives to aid their growing population. In May of 1985 a bid was placed on the Hoffman property located on North Road in Howland.
The Reverend Father Kenneth M. Bachofsky was assigned as the new pastor of St. Nicholas Church, by Bishop Nicholas, effective on Sunday, June 1, 1985 with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Great Feast of Pentecost. That November a special meeting was held in the basement of the Church on Vine Street. Because of the difficulty of constructing a new Church property on the North Leavitt Road Property, a proposal was made to purchase a 8.2 acre parcel of land located on North Road in Howland at the cost of $180,000.00 dollars. Ballots were sent out to all parishioners in good standing for a vote.
The parishioners voted to purchase the old Hoffman property on North Road and it was paid for in cash, derived from funds from the Church Building Fund.
On Sunday, June 26, 1986 the faithful gathered at the Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church on North Road and a solemn procession was held from there to the proposed construction site on North Road. His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, assisted by Father Ken and deanery and area clergy broke ground for the Half a Million Dollar Complex. Over 200 people attended the Ground Breaking Banquet at Divieste Banquet Center on North River Road for this auspicious occasion. At that dinner a pledge of $30,000.00 dollars was made by Bobby and Dee Delida for the construction of the new church.
A Building Committee was established and plans for the new complex consisting of a 200 seating capacity Church, a Fellowship Hall that would seat 300 people, a modern kitchen, men and women’s rooms, a pastor’s office, processional walk and an Hors d’oeuvres Patio. The complex was designed by Mosure & Associates of Youngstown, Ohio with the architect being Edward Jakubick.
A special sub committee was formed by the Church Building Committee consisting of Father Ken, Ray Speicher, Andy Lazor and Sue Sekerak to investigate the loan needed to pay for the additional funds. They went to downtown Warren and meet with all of the vice-presidents of the banks to discuss a mortgage. Although all of the banks in Warren agreed to give the Church a mortgage, the committee did not like the interests and closing costs incorporated in their proposals. Father Ken then contacted a Trustee of the Diocese, Mr. Frank Finui, President of Jenners Bank and Trust in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania. The committee liked the package that Mr. Finui put together and agreed to have our mortgage through this bank.
A special parish meeting was held in the spring of 1987. Father Ken gave a full report on the building. The financial committee members of the building project gave a full report on the expenses. At the meeting Ann Kurpey made a motion to accept the proposal, seconded by Jean Lahutsky. The motion passed unanimously.
After the final plans were drawn and approved by the committee, bids were sent out to seven construction companies in our area. After careful consideration, a contract was signed with Evan’s Construction Company to build the new Church complex. Bob Evans was the owner and Mike Wester was the construction site manager. At the signing of the contract, the cost of construction was $495,000.00 dollars. Construction started the first week of June in 1987. At the completion of the construction the final price was $525,000.00 dollars. This left the parish with a mortgage of $340,000.00 dollars with a monthly payment of $3,000.00.
The Cornerstone for the new Church was laid and blessed by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, at a special service conducted on September 25, 1987. A celebratory reception was held in the Vine Street Church Hall, which was filled to capacity.
The construction was completed in mid-December of 1987. The first service that was served in the new Church was the Christmas Eve Compline and Vigil. The next day, with faculties received from Bishop Nicholas, Father Ken read a prayer and solemnly blessed the sanctuary of the new Church. The festal Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of the Lord was then served at 10:00 a.m. Words cannot express the overwhelming joy that all the worshippers felt that day. A long awaited dream has now become a reality! Thanks be unto Almighty God for all things!
In conjunction with our parish’s celebration of our Golden Anniversary of Founding, the new Church was solemnly blessed and consecrated. The Service for the Consecration of a New Church was celebrated by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, on Saturday, June 25, 1988. During the service the Holy Relics of St. Euphemia was carried in solemn procession around the exterior of the Church three times. After offering the prayer for the opening of the doors, the relics were solemnly placed and sealed in the Altar Table. After the Altar was consecrated and vested, the bishop then proceeded to anoint, with Holy Chrism, the walls of the Sanctuary and the Nave of the Church.
After the conclusion of the Consecration Service the bishop then offered the prayer for the Blessing of the Fellowship Hall. The walls of the rest of the complex were blessed with the Sanctified Water by the Bishop. After that service everyone gathered together in the Fellowship Hall for a grand Hors d’oeuvre Reception with a Champaign Toast.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas with Father Ken, Diocesan, Deanery and local Orthodox Clergy as concelebrants. The liturgical responses were rendered by the St. Michael’s Church Choir from Binghamton, New York, under the direction of Mr. Edward Sedor. A Panachyda was offered for the repose of the souls of the departed founders of St. Nicholas, followed by the Archpastoral Blessing and Festive Anointing. The Grand Anniversary Banquet was then held at Cesta’s Golden Gate Restaurant in Warren, Ohio at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon.
In the spring of 1988 Marchione Studios of Canton, Ohio designed and installed the stained glass windows in the Nave of the Church. They depict the Parables of the Lord. They also made and installed the window in the Sanctuary “More Spacious than the Heavens” as well as painted the Icon of St. Nicholas on the exterior, above the front doors of the Church.
At the Annual Parish Meeting in January of 1991, a report on the mortgage was given to the congregation. A part of the report included the amount being paid on principle vs interest. In order to save on the mortgage interest, a motion was made and passed to solicit no interest loans from parishioners to pay off the mortgage to Jennerstown Bank and to pay parishioners directory using a monthly lottery. A total of 12 people came forward with interest free loans totaling $200,000.00 dollars. The mortgage was paid off to the bank and was kept in house.
In 1991 the North Leavitt Road and Vine Street Properties were sold. It was decided to relocate the Rectory on the North Road property. Plans for a new rectory was made and approved by the Building Committee. A motion was made, second and passed for the construction of a new rectory by the congregation in the fall of 1991. Edward Jakubik of Jakubik and Association in Cortland, Ohio was contracted to design the rectory. And after several bids, a contract with Frank Schmidt of Schmidt Construction Company of Canfield, Ohio was signed to build the new rectory. The total cost of the new construction was $115,000.00 dollars.
The Service for the Breaking of Ground for a New Home was conducted on Sunday, July 14, 1992. Construction began shortly after the service and was completed in November of that year. Father Ken and his family were able to move into the new rectory for the Thanksgiving Holidays. The new rectory was solemnly blessed on Sunday, June 26, 1992 by our Diocesan Hierarch, Metropolitan Nicholas.
At the Annual Parish Meeting in 1995 a decision was made to construct a Bell Tower that would house the bell from the old Church as well as the old Cornerstone. Andy and Betty Jane Krupey came forward and offered to help with the design and to donate the construction of the bell tower. After some thought it was decided to construct an edifice that would serve as an area to sit and meditate instead of just a simple structure. Plans drawn by Edward Jakubik were approved at a special parish meeting, and the decision to go ahead with the construction of the tower was made. A local Amish Construction Company was contracted to build the tower. It was finished later that year at the cost of $26,000.00 dollars. It was blessed and dedicated by Metropolitan Nicholas in July of 1995. It was donated in loving memory of +Michael & +Ann Krupey and all deceased members of St. Nicholas and officially known as The Memorial Bell Tower. It is used for all Memorial Services and Funerals of the faithful of our parish.
The Mortgage on the Church Complex was paid off in 1996. In the spring of that year it was decided to replace the Icons on the Iconscreen in conjunction with the Burning of the Mortgage on the Church Complex. Iconographer, Dennis Bell, was contracted to paint the new Icons. They were completed and solemnly consecrated by Metropolitan Nicholas. At that banquet the mortgage was symbolically burned by the Building Committee assisted by the Metropolitan.
Because of the expansion of the parish membership and the need for more space for classrooms, at the Annual Parish Meeting, in January of 1997, it was decided to design additional room on the Fellowship Hall to meeting the needs of the parish. Once again, Edward Jakubik was asked to draw up plans for an extension that would include: four extra classrooms, a library, food preparation room, an office and extra hall space. A contract was signed with Hively Construction Company in Canfield, Ohio for $125,000.00 dollars for the new construction. The construction was completed and Metropolitan Nicholas blessed and dedicated the new addition in the fall of 1997.
On May 6, 2001 Metropolitan Nicholas was invited, once again, to our parish, for the burning of the 2nd mortgage on the extension of the Fellowship Hall. This was made possible because of the donations of many generous donors. During Great Lent of 2001, Dennis Bell was contracted to paint the new Icon Murals for the Sanctuary of our Church. They were consecrated by Metropolitan Nicholas at the May 6th celebration.
At the Annual Parish Meeting in February 2008 it was decided to complete the Iconography of the Church with murals on the Nave walls. The miracles of the Lord would be depicted on the north and south walls and the miracles of St. Nicholas would be depicted on the west wall of the Church. Dennis Bell completed these murals in September of 2008. On Saturday, October 4, 2008 Metropolitan consecrated the murals at our Church.
In 2010, the parish had put together a website for the church which chronicles our history, stories, pictures, group functions, among many other activities. The website is, of course, this one www.stnicholaswarren.org
The final Icons were painted by Dennis Bell and completed in May of 2011 depicting additional miracles, the toweling on the bottom of the walls in the Nave of the Church. All of the Icons and liturgical appointments of the parish were the gracious donations of parishioners for the various intentions they requested. No funds were ever used from either the Building Fund or the treasury of our Church to purchase any of the liturgical items.
With this the brief history of our parish comes to a close with the celebration of this 75th Anniversary November 3, 2013. Today we pray that our Lord bless those precious founders of this parish and reward them for their hard work, dedication and sacrifices. May their Memory be Eternal!
We pray that the Lord bless our fellowship with Him today and our future, as a family-in-Christ, with continued spiritual and material growth in the years ahead! To our Lord and Saviour we offer glory, thanksgiving and worship forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen!Christ is Among Us! He Is and Forever Shall Be!
Pastors Who Have Served Our Parish
Reverend Joseph Simko ..........................1940 - 1946
Reverend Frank Masaros ........................1946 - 1949
Reverend George Yankevich..................1949 - 1953
Reverend Ivan Ladyzynski ......................1953 - 1954
Reverend Joseph Stefanko ....................1954 - 1954 (2 months)
Reverend Nicholas Solak ........................1954 - 1963
Reverend Andrew Hutnyan ....................1963 - 1975
Reverend R. Michael Zak ........................1975 - 1985
Very Reverend Kenneth M. Bachofsky .....1985 - Present