The History of
St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church
Beckley, West Virginia
Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church of Beckley, WV came about in response to the needs of many individuals who came to Beckley to become part of the economy that was built around the local coal mines. Organized in 1943, with the late Metropolitan Antony Bashir of blessed memory presiding at the first meeting, the church grew quickly. A year later a lot for the church was purchased at the present site on South Heber Street. Despite the shortages generated by World War II, then still raging, the community began to build a church, first with the lower portion, which now serves as the Church Hall. After the War ended, the post-war boom led to economic improvement and by 1957 the second story, the church proper, was completed. The church was dedicated by Metropolitan Anthony on June 23 of the same year. In 1965 the current rectory was purchased.
In October of 1967, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, who succeeded the late Metropolitan Antony in 1966, consecrated the church, placing into the Holy Table the relics of St. Sebastian the Martyr. Two years later the mortgage was burned, and in 1970 the church hall was remodeled.
During the intervening years the decline of the coal industry around the nation took its toll on Beckley as well. The resulting economic short-fall was felt by every one, including the parish. Many young people left West Virginia after completing their education. In some cases whole families chose to move out of state rather than see their businesses dissolve in front of them. As a result the community slowly decreased in size. Since 1993 the community has begun to recover. St. Nicholas Church, the only Orthodox Church in Beckley, has opened its arms to all who wish to embrace the faith of the apostles, who were “first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26 ).
Several pastors served the spiritual needs of the community in the intervening years. Chief among them were the founding pastor Fr. Michael Hubak, Archimandrite Basil Kazan, and the late Very Reverend Economos Zacharia Nasr who was appointed pastor in 1970. He was followed by Frs. Thomas Galloway, Vladimir Demschuk, Paul Nemr, Archimandrite Denis Lajoie, and Reverend Michael Tassos. On September 1, 2002 the Reverend Father Samuel Haddad was assigned as the current pastor.
Some Important Dates:
October 23, 1943 - The frist meeting with Metropolitan Anthony Bashir presiding
February 1944 - Lot purchased on Heber Street for $8500.
1948 - Church hall was completed (basement) at a cost of $37,500. Permanent priest being assigned by the Archdiocese.
1956 - Under the spiritual guidance of Father Michael Hoback, construction of the new church commenced.
March 1957 - Church completed at the cost of approximately $50,000.
June 23, 1957 - New church consecrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony Bashir.
Early 1965 - Meeting room and office were donated by a parishioner and dedicated by His Eminence Anthony Bashir.
September 1965 - Brick house on 105 Lilly Street was purchased as a parish house at a cost of $21,000.
October 8, 1967 - His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba blessed the 12 beautiful, newly installed stained glass windows. At this time the holy Altar table containing the Holy Relics of Saint Sebastian, an early martyr of the Church, was consecrated.
August 31, 1969 - Final mortgage was burned in the church. This was the first time that the church was free of debt since 1956.
Spring, 1970 - The interior of the church was completely remodeled at a cost of $7,000.
Summer, 2006 - Newly completed addition is dedicated by His Grace Bishop THOMAS.
Priests Who Have Served St. Nicholas Church
(Starting with the most recent)
· Fr. Samuel Haddad
· Fr. Michael Tassos
· Fr. Michael Clancy
· Fr. Dennis Lajoie
· Fr. Paul Nimmer
· Fr. Vladimir Demchuck
· Fr. Tom Galloway
· Fr. Zacharia Nasr
· Fr. Basil Sedaka
· Fr. John Corey
· Fr. Constantine Massoud
· Fr. Massabni
· Fr. Elias
· Fr. Athanasius Emert
· Fr. Basil Kazan
· Fr. John Sakab
· Fr. John Newcomb
· Fr. Michael Hobeck
· Fr. John Khourey
· Fr. Mahfooth
· Fr. Habib