Excerpts of an article in the St. Elias Eastern Orthodox Church 25th Anniversary memorial booklet, 1991 By Father Deacon Samuel Beronja
Our parish began on October 15, 1966, when arrangements were made for our first Divine Liturgy to be held in the Chapel of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Our second home was the Trinity Lutheran Church, and our third home, the Odd Fellow Hall.
Encouraged by Archpriest Photius Donahue (then-pastor of St. Andrews Orthodox Church in E. Lansing, reposed 1983) to build a mission church, energetic and devoted parish leaders searched for a permanent home, and the present property on B Drive South was selected. On October 1, 1969 St. Elias Orthodox Catholic Church was incorporated in the State of Michigan by Joyce Beronja, resident agent.
There were many who helped to make this dream come true – those seeking the funding for the property, the ladies of St. Mary’s Sisterhood who were there with food for the workers, the men of St. Elias who were the electricians, the plumbers, the painters, the laborers, etc., who truly built St. Elias Church with “their own hands,” and all of the people who assisted financially. On September 13, 1970, the first Divine Liturgy was held at our beloved St. Elias Orthodox Church.
Archpriest Photius Donahue, founding pastor served 1966-1967. Hieromonk Gabriel Loynes, 1967-1969; Priest Denis Ericson, 1970; Archpriest John Ball, 1970-1973; Archpriest Michael St. Andrew, 1973-1990 Archpriest Basil Karpelenia, 1990-1991; Archpriest James Donnely, 1991-1993; Archpriest Michael St. Andrew, 1993-2001; Archpriest Roman Star, Administrative & Acting Pastor, 2002-2005. Subdeacon Samuel Beronja has faithfully served since 1976 and consequently as protodeacon since 1983 until the present day. On February 9, 2005 the Most Rev. Mercurius (Ivanov), Bishop of Zaraisk, appointed Archpriest Lawrence Bacik as pastor.
With the help of the present membership and people who attend St. Elias, we have maintained our parish, enlarged our parish hall, added a basement, added a very modern kitchen, and purchased additional property. Both our temple and its adjacent parish hall were enlarged in 1995. A new and exquisite iconostasis handcrafted by parishioners Chris Popovich and Piku Pazik completed this undertaking in October 1995 and also blessed the same month by the Most Rev. Paul (Ponomarev), Bishop of Zaraisk.
We rejoice that during the nearly forty years of our parish’s existence, God has showered abundant blessings upon our people. May our Lord bless and prosper our labors during the years that lie ahead as we strive for the preservation and continued growth of St. Elias Orthodox Church. Well done, thou good and faithful servants of the Lord!