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The Seeds of Orthodoxy are Planted in North America (1794 )

The Orthodox Church in America has its roots in the Russian Orthodox Church, which was first planted in Alaska in 1794 by Saint Herman and Saint Juvenal. The church blossomed in Alaska under the leadership of Saint Innocent, who labored there from 1824 to 1868. In 1867, Alaska was sold to the United States, but the Orthodox Church continued to thrive in Alaska.

In the late 19th century, Orthodox immigrants from Eastern Europe began to arrive in the United States in large numbers. These immigrants slowly began to build Orthodox parishes in many major cities, including New York, Chicago, and Detroit, one of which was Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral, the mother church of our parish (Holy Transfiguration).

One of the most important figures in the early history of the Orthodox Church in America was Saint Alexis Toth, who led a large group of Uniate Christians (Eastern Rite Catholic) from Minnesota into the Orthodox Church in 1891 and continued to lead in Wilkes-Barr Pennsylvania for the remainder of his life. In 1895, Saint John Kochurov arrived in the United States and began working to build the first Russian Orthodox Church from scratch (instead of repurposing an existing building) in North America, which is the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago. He was a contemporary of another well-known missionary saint, Saint Tikhon (who later became Patriarch of Moscow).

In 1907, the year Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral began in Detroit, Saint Tikhon was appointed as the Bishop, and later Archbishop, of the Aleutians and North America. During his tenure in the United States, he founded many parishes, introduced administrative reforms, and aimed to adapt Orthodoxy to American conditions by permitting the use of English in services and granting a greater role to the laity.  He is a much loved saint in both America and Russia today. In 1917, Saint Tikhon returned to Russia and participated in the All-Russian Church Council, which restored the Patriarchate, absent since the time of Peter the Great. He was elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and died in 1925, considered a martyr for Christ.

Both Holy Transfiguration and Ss Peter and Paul still are part of The Orthodox Church in America which continues to grow and flourish. In 1970, it was granted autocephaly, or independence, from the Russian Orthodox Church. Today, the Orthodox Church in America is a vibrant and growing church with over 700 parishes, 20 monasteries, 14 Bishops in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  Our bishop is Archbishop Daniel of Chicago and the Midwest and our primate is Metropolitan Tikhon (Mollard)

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Detroit - the “Mother Church” of Orthodoxy in Michigan (1907 - present)

“During the summer of 1907, several families in the southwestern area of Detroit came together in hope of establishing an Orthodox Church in their neighborhood. They had originally emigrated from an area of Eastern Europe known as Galicia, the home of the Carpatho-Rusyn people. After contacting St. Theodosius Cathedral in Cleveland, OH, the first liturgy was celebrated and Ss. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, under the Russian Metropolia was organized in November 1907, becoming the first Orthodox congregation in the state of Michigan.

For the first year the congregation met in a rented facility and moved to its present site acquired in 1908. Shortly afterward, a wooden church was built on the property and in 1912 the first parish school building was built behind the church. In 1916, a committee was formed to formulate plans for a new church. Due to many challenges, the new church was finally constructed some 33 years later. Designed by architects Howard Simons and Frank Herman, groundbreaking occurred on April 14, 1948, with the cornerstone laid on July 11, 1948 and the dedication on November 24, 1949. Nicholas Zadorojny, a well known iconographer during the post World-War II era was contracted to paint the interior of the new church building. He spent the next several years painting the iconography on the walls of the church.

The parish thrived in southwest Detroit throughout the decades. A full liturgical life as well as social life anchored the immigrant community. So many children attended the church that a large school building was erected in 1964. The parish choir reached over 50 voices, often directed by professional choir directors from Europe and the U.S. In the year 2000, in recognition that Sts. Peter & Paul parish is the oldest Orthodox church in the State of Michigan, being regarded as the “mother church” among the Orthodox communities in the state, and in light that the faithful members 'accepted with joy the new opportunities and challenges of urban ministry', his Grace, Bishop +JOB (of blessed memory)  elevated the parish to the dignity of cathedral status.”

(the above excerpt is from source:

Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Southfield (1971-1988)

"In November 1971, Father Nicholas Fedetz, upon leaving Ss Peter and Paul, decided to start  an OCA church in Southfield Michigan. Fr Fedtez met with the pastor and several council members of North Congregational Church which was located at 10-½ Mile and Lahser Roads. The congregation, pastor and council members, displaying true Christian fellowship, allowed our new parish family to use their chapel area for our church services. The name we selected for our new church was Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church (HROC). Since we were unable to actively contact members of other parishes to attend HROC, our membership grew slowly. In fact, many of our members did not belong or attend any other church for a number of years. When Fr Fedetz met with personnel of North Congregational Church, he told them we needed a place of worship for a 'couple of years'. We stayed at this location for ten years.

During our stay at North Congregational, we sponsored a few fundraising activities with the hope of someday owning our own church. In 1980, we finally purchased property on West Nine Mile Road, Farmington Hills, with the hope and dream of constructing a church facility. We contacted an architect to begin drawing plans. At that time, a few of our council members attended a meeting of the Farmington Hills zoning committee. We presented out desire to construct a church on the property. The following month we received a letter from the zoning board outlining the steps we would have to take in order to construct our church, ...but could not afford these alterations, [therefore] we had to put our building plans on hold. Shortly thereafter, one of our council members was sharing these setbacks with a co-worker who asked why HROC did not pursue purchasing an already existing church. He stated he knew of a church facility that was for sale on West Seven Mile, Livonia... HROC was asked to visit the property and make an offer. The property consisted of a church, classrooms, furniture, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, and five acres of ground. The property house which was in need of much repair. After a visit to this location, the HROC council [made an offer] for the package which was accepted by Pilgrim Church and we purchased the property on a land contract. This was one of our happiest experiences... 

We spent six years as HROC at our current location. We began to lose parishioners and financially things began to pile up. Several Orthodox Churches were asked if they wanted to take over HROC to keep an Orthodox Church in the western suburbs. Father Michael (Matsko) and the church council of Ss Peter and Paul visited HROC and looked over the property. Shortly thereafter, in 1986, Ss Peter and Paul took over the property and started a Chapel there. In 1988, His Grace Bishop Boris (Geeza) blessed the members of the chapel to begin a new church on the Seven Mile property and Father Michael (Matsko) became the full-time priest. The church membership voted to name this church Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church (HTOC)."

(the above excerpt is from source: On Behalf of All and For All Consecration Weekend booklet from May 21-23, 2004)

Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church - Livonia (1988 - present)

[As mentioned in 1988], the church membership voted to name this church Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church (HTOC). Slowly, but surely, membership increased. HTOC purchased an additional two acres of land which adjoined the current property. The house on the property became the rectory of Father Michael (Matsko) and his family until a new home was constructed on the original property. The consecration of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church (HTOC) on May 22, 2004 proved not to be a culmination, but a new beginning of God’s blessings on His faithful servants.

In 2011, Father Michael (Matsko) retired and Father John Wehling served as priest for the next few years.  In September 2014, Archpriest Father Michael (Butler) began his service  at HTOC and currently serves as priest.  In recent years HTOC has undertaken large iconography projects in the nave, in addition to other stewardship efforts to maintain and improve the parish building and grounds.  HTOC continues to maintain a loving relationship with its mother parish, Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral, which currently functions as an inner-city mission parish. 

May God grant HTOC and Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral many, many years!

(portions of the above excerpt are from source: On Behalf of All and For All Consecration Weekend booklet from May 21-23, 2004)


36075 W. Seven Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48152


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