Published: Saturday, October 13, 2007
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST ORTHODOX CHURCH \ Through the years
St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church, 301 Struthers-Liberty Road, Campbell, is marking its 90th anniversary.
1910s: Immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Carpathian Mountains, who came to the Mahoning Valley to work in the steel industry, formed a fraternal benefit association known as St. George's Society. One of the society's goals was to establish a place of worship. It did so by forming the St. John's Congregation of East Youngstown and was granted a charter by Ohio on April 20, 1917. The membership bought three lots on the corner of Gordon Avenue and 14th Street. A parish house was built and the Rev. Theodore Kulchinsky was assigned as pastor. The first Divine Liturgy was March 3, 1918, in the basement of the parish house. A new hall served as a temporary church.
1920s: The Rev. Isadore Salko was pastor and a Russian School was organized. The parish built classrooms for the education of the youth. East Youngstown became Campbell in 1926. The church organized the Ladies Altar Society, choir and the Campbell "R" Club, Chapter 27 of the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs. The Rev. Michael Kostyk, pastor, began using English in worship. Young women of the parish organized the Mother's Club. The Russian School evolved into a Sunday school program.
1940s: A building fund was established. On Jan. 16, 1947, the Rev. Nicholas Vansuch, a son of the parish was ordained a priest.
1950s: A new cemetery chapel was dedicated by Archpriest Joseph Stephanko. The practice of honoring Orthodox graduates by celebrating a Divine Liturgy as a baccalaureate service was instituted. A five-acre tract of land on the corner of Struthers-Liberty Road and Tenney was bought as the site for the new church. In 1959, ground was broken for a new church estimated at $180,000. The Rev. John Voytilla, a son of the parish, was ordained.
1960s: The new church was completed and was consecrated. The iconostasis was built by parishioner John Novak and designed by Father N. Vansuch. The icons were written by Andrew Bicenko. The cemetery chapel was renovated and cemetery grounds redone. In 1967, the Rev. Eugene Vansuch, the third parish son to enter the priesthood, served his first Divine Liturgy in his home parish.
1970s: The icons behind the altar, iconography on the wall and the arch over the iconostasis were all written by the Rev. Philip Koufas. The Rev. Dimitri Voytilla, a fourth son of the parish, was ordained. The Rev. John Psinka was pastor from 1969 until his death in 1996. Major projects such as enclosing the front entrance, installing stained-glass windows, updating the kitchen and getting a computer system for office and chairs for people with disabilities were accomplished.
1990s: The Rev. John Steffaro became pastor. He began an adult education program and Bible study group. John Zelina, Harrison Krenitsky and Dr. Donald Tamulonis were ordained subdeacons. Nicholas Vansuch and Greg Cross were tonsured readers and Mary Boldish, Matthew Vansuch and Sarah Vansuch were blessed to read.
2000s: Extensive renovation of the church sanctuary was completed. New icons were written. Dr. David Gemmel, Dr. Donald Tamulonis and Gary Thompson study to become deacons.