For the most part, the Slavic immigrants who came to settle in East Akron, Ohio were from the region of Galicia and Uhor-Russia. They brought with them the customs and religion of the “old country,” where both Orthodox Christian and Uniat (Byzantine Catholic) faiths were practiced, with many people unaware of any significant difference between the two faiths.
In East Akron, the Galician immigrants formed a parish on Ackley Street, but eventually differences of opinion about the status of the parish—Orthodox or Uniat—led to the courts for judgment. In 1917, the parish was ruled to be under Uniat jurisdiction, and the Orthodox Christians found themselves without a parish.
This small, but zealous group of Orthodox Christians decided to form an Orthodox parish. The nucleus of this group was members of the St. Nicholas Russian Brotherhood, which was organized in Akron in 1914. At a parish meeting on March 4, 1917, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was chosen as the patron saint and heavenly protector of the parish. Services were held in parishioners’ homes while plans were being finalized for the construction of a church.
Through much saving and sacrifice, this small group constructed a church on Robert Street. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the new parish in the fall of 1917. It was the center of activity for the Russian Orthodox community.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the parish continued to expand rapidly and thoughts turned toward constructing a new church to meet the demands of this growing community. In 1946, property was purchased on the corner of Sylvan and Pardee Avenues, ground was broken in 1950, and in May 1952 the new church was consecrated and the first services held.
In November 1963, a new iconostas (icon screen) was completed—the same iconostas that stands in our church today.
By 1964, the parish began to see the need for continued progress, and decided to think seriously about constructing a recreation and school building. Because adequate property could not be found in the city, and because many parishioners were moving into the Akron suburbs, the parish purchased the Mogadore property in 1974 for the new parish complex.
The rectory was completed in 1977 and the social hall in 1979. Ground was broken for the new church in April 1983 and the first Divine Liturgy was held in the new building on January 29, 1984. The new church was consecrated on May 6, 1984.
Much has changed since 1917. A mere handful of Russian immigrants has grown into a thriving community of all ethnic backgrounds dedicated to Christ. What has remained unchanged is our dedication to Orthodoxy and to the mission of our founding fathers and the Apostles over two millennia ago—to spread the Word of God and to bring the world to Orthodoxy.