MOUNT CARMEL — The cupolas atop St. Michael’s Orthodox Church, at Willow Street and the Avenue, are getting a fresh coat of paint in recognition of the church’s 110th anniversary.
The domes have been painted silver numerous times since 1951, when major modifications were made to the tops of the domes. In 1994, the domes were repainted for the first time since they were modified in 1951, prior to the parish’s Golden Anniversary in 1958. In 2006, prior to the 100th anniversary in 2008, the domes were painted again along with the entire exterior of the church.
Work to the church over the years has been extensive. In July 1988 the entire church was refurbished. The following year, Rudolph N. Rohn Liturgical Designers wrote 44 icons in soft Byzantine style. An icon of Saints Peter and Paul was also dedicated in honor of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Centralia, which was forced to close in 1985 because of a mine fire.
The current work is being done by Rick Laske construction.
According to the church’s website, http://www.stmichaelsorthodoxchurch.org, on Oct. 1, 2012, St. Michael’s amended its articles of incorporation and has since been known as St. Michael’s Orthodox Church.
The church’s long history dates back to 1906, when a group of Russian-speaking immigrants living in the area identified the need for a place to worship. A brotherhood dedicated to St. Michael was organized and filed articles of incorporation on Aug. 21, 1907, as the Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox of St. Michael Archistrategos Aid Society of Mount Carmel.
With the blessing of the hierarchs, construction of St. Michael’s Church began as part of the Russian Greek Orthodox Church of North America. The deed for the land on which the church and rectory were constructed was purchased from George W. Bedall and recorded on Nov. 18, 1907. On April 23, 1908, the church was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation as the Russian Greek Orthodox Church of St. Michael of Mount Carmel. The construction of the church was completed in 1908.
The church purchased land on Merriam Mountain from the Reading Coal and Iron Co. This location has served as St. Michael’s Cemetery since 1909.
Later in it’s history, the parish constructed a rectory for the pastor adjacent to the church. In 1922, the church interior was remodeled with icons on the ceilings and walls by the iconographer V. Rozedelski. The icons were restored by George McFee prior to the 50th anniversary celebration in 1958.
Under the guidance of Rev. Andrew Dedick, who served as pastor from 1938 to 1967, and Matushka Anna, the church property received many renovations, including modifications of the domes to place three stainless steel crosses, and the addition of vestments, vessels and new icons.
Rev. Claude Vinyard became pastor of St. Michael’s in 1967 and remained with the parish until 1979. During the 1980’s St. Michael’s had several pastors. In 1988 Rev. Michael Evans became pastor and served until October 2013. Rev. Ignatius Hunter has served the church since July 2017.
Although the size of the congregation has decreased over the years from 300 to 50 members, the church continues to strive toward increased involvement in the community.
Humanitarian efforts have included assisting victims of the Union National Bank fire, providing iconostasis icons to Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Church after a devastating fire, assisting local food banks and supporting charitable organizations.