It has been nine years since our community in St. Petersburg , Fl. has lost their most precious part of their spiritual and social life – their Church.
My husband and I were new to the community when we moved there in 1992, but my mother-in-law lived St. Petersburg for many years. She was actively involved in the parish life and was devoted to that Church.
When she was killed by a drunk driver, my husband has retired and we moved to St. Petersburg , because there was a Russian Orthodox Church of St. Andrew.
It was given that name because a couple who owned a home in St. Petersburg , N. & L. Beck-Mamedow, had lost their son Andrew during the war. They were sponsors to a priest, Father Michael Smirnoff, and his wife. After they arrived to the U.S. , Beck-Mamedows employed Fr. Michael as a gardener. He started a Chapel from their garage, but later he moved to Cleveland and started to build a Church there. When he retired, he came to St. Petersburg and served as the Rector of the St. Andrew parish. One time, after finishing a Liturgy, he had a heart attack and died before an ambulance arrived. This story was told to me by his sister-in-law, who still lives here.
Because of the parish, this community was steadily growing. Eventually they could afford to support a priest (mostly retired). In time, they bought a property and built a real church. Subsequently, they bought a small two bedroom house for the priest and a parking lot.
The parish property was large enough to build a Church Hall and this was done. At the hall, sisterhood members served coffee and pastry that the sisters baked and collected whatever the people would donate. The sisters also visited the sick and shared their meals with them.
When my husband and I moved to St. Petersburg in 1992, I was asked to head the sisterhood. I agreed to do that for one year, but it lasted nine. It was hard work, but we had a great group of wonderful ladies that made it easier. We made good money by arranging parties for Holidays, serving Sunday lunches, and running bake sales that included Kuliches (baked by Galina Kastorsky) every Easter. We also supplied Kuliches gratis to the sick in nursing homes and hospitals. The parish membership grew, so we could afford to enlarge the hall and the church.
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia has their By-Laws, and one of them is that all parish properties belong to the Synod.
In 1993 we were informed that the Synod is replacing our parish Rector, Fr. Vladimir, with a younger priest from the Russian Federation . The Church Parish Council (“CPC”) petitioned the Synod not to replace our priest. They replied that the assignment was firm and no changes would be made.
Some parishioners were not happy, but a lot of us thought that it will be nice to have young people with kids in our parish. (Read more by clicking the title link)