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St John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church, Sheppton, PA

Irish Melkite

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Not sure whether News is the appropriate forum for this, but it seemed to be the best choice available.

A member of the ByzCath forum spotted this piece in the local Hazleton PA newspaper and brought it to my attention, asking if I knew any more history of the church, beyond that in the article. I thought the subject might also be of interest to some here.

Sheppton Church Could See New Life

A shuttered church could get new life in Sheppton PA. A Russian Orthodox congregation in Mayfield PA bought a historic Russian Orthodox church in Sheppton that closed years ago. They plan to make it usable sometime in the future, possibly, for a Russian Orthodox parish. ... there’s been no services there in more than 20 years. Biros said he and his wife, Ann, purchased the church with the intention of perhaps building a house on the property, but once inside, something told him not to demolish the old church because it was so beautiful.
A posting from the Indiana List on this subject was copied to ByzCath back in 2005, when St John's (ROCOR) Cathedral in Mayfield PA was soliciting funds to assist it in restoring the Sheppton church. I'm not aware that there has been much, if any, publicity about it in the years since.

What background I know is that the church was an OCA parish under the patronage of St John the Baptist. Formed about 1891, it was actually constructed in 1894-95 (cornerstone date is 1895) and reportedly was the first (oldest) parish of what would eventually be the OCA's Diocese of Philadelphia & North East Pennsylvania.

Sometime between Sept 1895 and Sept 1896, a chapter or brotherhood of the Russian American Orthodox Mutual Aid Society (later, the Russian Orthodox Catholic Mutual Aid Society) was formed there. An early, if not it's first, pastor was a Father Miron Wolkay, of blessed memory.

A posting at OCANews suggests that the last priest assigned there was Father (now Archpriest) Joseph Martin, presently Rector of the OCA Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre. Although a listing of Father Martin's pastoral assignments at a 40th anniversary celebration of his ordination didn't include Sheppton, he could easily have served it from another parish, as all of those which he pastored are clustered at distances no more than a half-hour from Sheppton. The church was closed during the time that Metropolitan Herman was  bishop of the NEPA diocese - probably in the mid to late '80s.

A follow-up to the linked article is: here.

Back in 2005, in conjunction with its early efforts to raise funds for the renovation, St John's in Mayfield had some photos of the interior and exterior on its site but, in looking just now, I couldn't locate them. However, if you start here and click to the right, you can see some 25 or so photos of the temple, mainly of the interior, taken in 2007 or 2008.

Many years,

Neil
 

LBK

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Irish Melkite said:
However, if you start here and click to the right, you can see some 25 or so photos of the temple, mainly of the interior, taken in 2007 or 2008.
Umm, that link doesn't work.  :(
 

Irish Melkite

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Try again, LBK - I just hit it and it worked fine. It's to a Flickr page. First photo is 2 men in the church doorway.

Many years,

Neil
 

LBK

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Irish Melkite said:
Try again, LBK - I just hit it and it worked fine. It's to a Flickr page. First photo is 2 men in the church doorway.

Many years,

Neil
Weird. I tried several times before I posted, and got an error message. Now it's OK.  ???
 

Irish Melkite

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podkarpatska said:
From Hazleton, is Sheppton towards Frackville and St Clair or towards McAdoo?
Sheppton is roughly half-way between Hazleton and Frackville, I'd estimate. As the crow flies (but man can't travel by motorized means), I'd say that Sheppton and McAdoo are probably about parallel to one another.

Many years,

Neil
 
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