A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAINT NICHOLAS ORTHODOX
Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church was
established on 13 January 1935 under the spiritual leadership of Rev. George Perhac. In May
of that year, a lot on the corner of 15th and Johnson Sts. in Gary, IN, was purchased for
the location of the newly organized church. Construction was begun in October of 1936. In
July of 1937, a parish home was purchased at 1439 West 15th Ave. June of 1942 saw the
completion of the church. The parish was visited by Bishop ORESTES. Services were held for
consecration of the church. Two years later, in December of 1944, the mortgage on the
property was burned.
After 25 years of service, Bishop
ORESTES presided over a jubilee celebration. This was also the beginning of a new era for
the congregation. The parish was growing and a new home was needed. November of 1963 brought
a decision to purchase a 5 acre parcel on 47th and Pierce Streets in the
beautiful Glen Park section of Gary. This land was to be the location of the new church and
rectory. The parish home was completed in 1966. The construction of the new parish center
began in 1972. During the year it took for construction, the faithful met at their temporary
location, the Linton-McColly Funeral Chapel. 22 October 1973 was an historic day in the life
of the parish. On this day, the first Divine Liturgy was held in the new parish center.
Bishop JOHN came for the blessing and dedication of the new center on 3 June 1973. On 15
September 1985, the parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Guest celebrant at the Divine
Services of the celebration was Bishop NICHOLAS.
In February of 1990, the decision to
move again arose. With the majority of the congregation now living outside of the city of
Gary, it was a choice of logic. A search committee was established to try to find a new home
for the parish. In May of 1993, a decision was made to sell the parish center and rectory.
In October of 1992, the parish home was moved to 2582 Newton St. in Lake Station, IN.
This was now a new beginning for the
parish. In April of 1994, a possible location was found. A church building in Hobart was for
sale. The following month, after a special congregational meeting, a resolution was passed
to purchase the former Sunnyside Baptist Church at 954 State St. in Hobart. Negotiations
began and the building was officially purchased on 1 October 1995. Thanksgiving Day weekend
of 1995, the faithful gathered to work on moving the parish from its old home to its new
one. The move was completed in one day. On Sunday 27 November 1994, the first Diving Liturgy
was held in the current church. On 24 September, His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS came to bless
the new house of Worship and to celebrate, along with the faithful of St. Nicholas Orthodox
Church, 60 years of service to JESUS CHRIST and the Orthodox Faith.
Reprinted from 60th
Anniversary And Blessing of the New Church 1935-1995 booklet.
The move that the parish accomplished
in 1960s and early 1970s was not so much a result of parish growth, but rather an exodus
from the part of the city that was becoming increasingly unfriendly (cars were routinely
stolen from the church parking lot during the services, people would walk in to the church
and demand cash, and so on).
The second place of worship is quite
correctly described in the booklet as a “parish center”, not church. Indeed, it was a parish
hall where the Divine Services were celebrated.
Saint Nicholas Church is a work in progress. Having left
Gary out of the concern for the parishioners' safety, we
have settled in Hobart. As a result of moving into an old
Protestant church, we had to retrofit a minimum of Orthodox
features. The goal of the parish is to, hopefully, bring our
current worship space closer to a more traditional
expression of Orthodox Theology.