Saint Peter and Paul Eastern Orthodox Church is a parish of The Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America (OCA). This Church is the successor of the North American mission of the Church of Russia and traces its beginnings to the first missionaries sent to Alaska in 1794. The OCA received its "autocephaly" or independence in 1970.
On Christmas Day, January 1949, Russian Eastern Orthodox Church services were held in Phoenix, AZ for the first time--served by Fr. Nicholas Hubiak from New Jersey. On November 25, 1951, the Saint Peter and Paul Russian Eastern Orthodox Greek Catholic Church was formed with the appointment of Archimandrite Peter Zaychenko, formerly of Chicago, IL, by Archbishop John of San Francisco and the Western United States.
Archimandrite Peter purchased residential property at 1614 E Monte Vista Rd, where services were held and it later became the Church. The parish totaled about twelve families at the time. On November 12, 1955 Archimandrite Peter Zaychenko fell asleep in the Lord and willed the residential property to the parish. In 1956 the parish built an addition onto the original house to accommodate up to 80 worshippers. Adjoining property was purchased in 1961 for a future church building and in March 1967, with the blessing of Archbishop John, the parish received its building permit.
On May 12, 1968, a new beautiful Byzantine-style Russian Eastern Orthodox Church was
dedicated by the Most Rev Archbishop John of San Francisco and the Western United States. He was assisted by Fr. Dimitri Gisetti, Dean; V Rev John Karateew, pastor; as well as other Orthodox clergy. The new church can now accommodate more than a threefold expansion in worshippers and is an outstanding example of what a dedicated and united parish group can accomplish when interested in serving God and promoting the Orthodox Faith.
The focus has always been on people. Specifically on people's salvation, based on hearing the Word of God preached and defined in the context of a true and loving Christian community.
In order to provide a clear witness to Christ and His Gospel to all, it was decided to evolve from solely Church Slavonic / Russian and to use English exclusively in the worship services. For the most part, the transition has been made and today we find ourselves again ministering to many of the new Russian speaking people seeking out an Orthodox Church for worship.
On November 9-10, 2001, the parish observed its 50th anniversary.
Typically one will find approximately 100 adults and children gathered together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on a given Sunday. Our worshippers represent a cross section of people of various ages, occupations, and ethnic backgrounds, living throughout the greater metropolitan Phoenix area. The character of our community reflects our effort in placing special emphasis on personal participation in the life of the Church, spiritual growth, and commitment to Christ and His teachings.
Continuing education and discussions among our members are priorities within our parish. Immediately following communion on Sunday's Divine Liturgy, children ranging in age from pre-school through young adult attend Church School classes (September - May). Adult Education (Orthodox Faith Studies) classes are also offered. In addition, other educational programs on various subjects are scheduled and announced periodically.
Parishioners and visitors are invited to share fellowship over coffee and bagels in our social hall following Divine Liturgy every Sunday. Periodically, lunches, dinners, and fellowship gatherings are scheduled in various locations, sometimes in connection with open discussions on various topics with pastoral guidance, i.e. Orthodox Faith Study.
Indeed, the true church is built with "living stones". Believers who by their Baptism and Chrismation have entered into the life of the Church and who are united in a common confession of faith and the Body and Blood of Christ themselves become the "Body of Christ". The fields are, as the Scriptures tell us, ripe for harvest; but the laborers are few. May God bless our efforts toward the building of His Church in love and truth.
We invite you with open arms to worship and share fellowship with us anytime.