Our Church was consecrated on the 22nd April 1956. The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Gregory (Borishkevich), the first bishop of Chicago-Detroit Diocese. It was consecrated in honor of St. Panteleimon – The Healer.
The Orthodox Christian community that formed the core of the parish had come by different paths from various parts of then the Soviet Union to the Twin Cities area. It was a very difficult time for them – many have fled the persecution of the Soviet atheistic system, many were taken to Nazi Germany as slave laborers or Prisoners of War and then fled to the USA after the Second World War. After coming here, they had to rebuild their lives and find a new place in a country few of them would ever imagine they would find themselves in just a few years prior.
Despite the challenges they faced they were all united by their Faith. They decided that they could not see their future outside of their devotion to Christ and the Orthodox Church.
So united in their Faith they started to lead Prayer Services in their homes. Different members of the community would host The Sunday Services. The community grew.
The first parochial school opened prior to the community even having their own church building. The first priest was Fr. Peter Pankratov who would perform Liturgy in parishioners’ homes. When the community began to grow and worship in private homes could not accommodate all the worshipers, they began to think about buying the church. Mr. Wasilewski, one of the founding members, found the current building and managed to negotiate an acceptable price, promised the owner that the building would remain a church, rather than an economic enterprise.
Once the building was purchased much work had to be done to prepare the grounds for Liturgy. With the dedication and effort of the parishioners the building was repaired, and services could take place. The parish continued to grow.
At various times, the St. Panteleimon Orthodox Church had grown to two hundred parishioners. The church school had up to forty students. A sisterhood was organized in the names of the holy martyrs Vera (Faith), Nadezhda (Hope), Lyubov (Love) and their mother Sophia. They would play an important part in the Parish maintaining the Church grounds, organizing charity bake sales, receptions, repairing vestments of the clergy, and preparing the Church for Holidays. And even though the generations have changed the sisterhood and school are present to this day and continue to perform their duties.
As the times changed, new members were coming to the Church. Soviet Union fell apart. Atheism stopped being part of the ideology in Russia. The Community changed, and many new faces started to appear. Now St. Panteleimon Orthodox Church unites Orthodox Christians of many different ethnic backgrounds – Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Georgian, Moldovan, Armenian, Serbian and many others. We are all united by our Orthodox faith and desire to see the Church grow. There are many kids in our parish and we want to see the Church stand for years to come, providing comfort and Spiritual sustenance to our kids and their families.
Recently we celebrated 60 years of our Parish. The wonderful celebration of this occasion took place at the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West St. Paul as our church could not hold all who came. As we look into the future, we see that our beloved old Church building can’t accommodate all the parishioners. With the Grace of God and the dedication of our Parish we will build our new Church to provide space for all of us. As we undertake this project, we are honored to follow in the footsteps of our founding members who, despite all the challenges they faced, could build, maintain and grow our Parish. It is our hope that our dedication and effort will match those who came before us.