SS. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church
210 Hill Ave | Endicott, New York
Phone: 607-759-1833

A Century of Serving God and Community:

The History of Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Endicott, New York

The Beginning

SS Peter and Paul Orthodox Church was founded informally in 1912 with the first temple built in 1914 and incorporated under the laws of New York State on April 15, 1921. The original name of the church was “Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church.”

The original purpose of the parish was simply to establish and propagate the Russian Orthodox Faith in Endicott, New York. Since April 14, 1970, however, the local parish and the national church, known as the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), have extensively revised and expanded their charters. On that day, His Holiness, Alexei I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox Church throughout the world, issued a Tomos (or decree) granting autocephaly to what was then known as “The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America” or more simply “The Metropolia”. Implied in the Tomos of Autocephaly was the hope that the newly formed Orthodox Church in America would one day be successful in uniting all the Orthodox faithful on this continent and establishing a local Autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox Church on an equal footing with all other Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. But explicit in the granting of autocephaly was the recognition that in the 50 years of its de facto independence, the Metropolia grew into a well-organized Metropolitan district with a stable and truly “sobornyi” (conciliar) form of government, eight dioceses, two seminaries, a network of church schools, a planned missionary vocation with a third of her bishops, some 80% of her membership and not less than 65% of her clergy Americans by birth and language.

In keeping with its establishment as the first native or American Orthodox Church, the OCA cast off its ethnocentric cloak of the past and has become instead a mission church in which everyone, while remaining faithful to their own ecclesiastic and ethnic roots, can in unity with all others work for growth and welfare of the Orthodox Christian Faith in America.

The Mother Church

Being the first Orthodox Church in the Triple Cities, SS. Peter and Paul was destined to serve as the “mother” church for other ethnic groups in the area. Our parish was instrumental in providing the seed in 1920 for its nearby namesake, SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church (in union with the See of Rome) on Watson Boulevard. The parish is currently pastored by Fr. Peter Tomas.

In the mid-1930s, St. Mary's American Carpatho-Russian Greelc Catholic Church (now St. Mary's Orthodox Catholic Church) on Jenkins Street became an offshoot of the Watson Boulevard church. The members of St. Mary's joined an independent Orthodox diocese with Bishop Orestes (Chornock) as its head, and the entire group is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey. The families that remained with the Watson Boulevard church chose to become affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, and several families of Carpatho-Russian extraction left our parish at that time to join St. Mary's, which is currently pastored by the V. Rev. Michael Kleban.

In 1970, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) of Page Avenue in West Endicott was formed by a group of families from our parish. This group consisted of people who wished to continue observing the Julian (old) calendar and to maintain close ties with ROCOR. St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church is currently pastored by the V. Rev. Stephanos Shagoury.

For a time before the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation was built on Arthur Avenue, our parish ministered to the Greek community in the area. This service extended even to the parish reserving a portion of its cemetery on Newell Road for the interment of their deceased loved ones. In recent years, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation sold its property on Arthur Avenue and built a new temple and complex on O'Hara Drive in Vestal. This Greek Orthodox community is pastored by the V. Rev. Michael Bahlatzis.

After a year of preparation by the clergy of our parish, and at the request of His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York, the Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission was established in August 2010 in Lansing, NY, a few miles north of Ithaca, housed in an old Roman Catholic church. Initially, the V. Rev. Timmothy Holowatch was assigned to serve and to guide the parish. Our parish provided financial, logistical and personnel assistance through the first year of operations until 2011 when the Rev. James Worthington was assigned as permanent pastor. Fr. James set up a full schedule  of divine services. Through generous contributions of our parish, organizations and parishioners, the entire interior of the church was properly and beautifully appointed, and on November 14, 2013, His Grace, Bishop Michael (Dahulich) led the faithful of the mission parish in dedicating and blessing the new iconostasis. Today, the parish is thriving with new members and is creating a strategy for a future building.

Early History: The Pirko, Leontovich, Borisoff, Vahol, Halkovich and Levdar Pastorates

The records going back to the very beginning of our parish are few. According to the minutes of parish council meetings, the first written record is of a meeting called on Wednesday evening June 2, 1920. The primary purpose was to install a new slate of officers; the second purpose was to prepare for a meeting to be held that Friday with representatives of the parishioners who had split off and formed another parish, also named SS. Peter and Paul, on Green Street (now located on Watson Boulevard).

According to the minutes of that Friday meeting, the dissident group was preparing to sue our parish. They were asking the remaining parishioners to give them two lots directly across the street from our parish, one-half of the cemetery on Newell Road, and two thousand dollars.

During the next 25 years until the end of World War II, the minutes (not all years are accounted for) were recorded in Russian with much of the writing difficult to decipher. Those which are legible, simply record the slate of officers elected to office for the coming year. Therefore, in order to present as complete and accurate history as possible, reliance on oral reports from people who lived during some portion of the early years, program booklets published through the years, newspaper reports, and second- and sometimes third-hand stories handed down from the founders through family members, was necessary.

The parish was founded informally in 1912 by fourteen families and approximately 100 bachelors; the original founders consisted of an amalgam of those who are now called Carpatho-Russian (primarily from the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Carpathian Mountains of what later became Czechoslovakia and then western Ukraine) and those who considered themselves Russians (primarily from Ukraine, Galicia, Byelorussia and Russia proper).

During the first two years, Sunday morning church services were held in the home of Michael Hopko Sr. of 101 Squires Avenue. At the time, the Rev. Solianka was a visiting priest who conducted the services. Mr. Hopko’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Ann Hopko, was a member of the parish and her son, the Rt. Rev. Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, is Michael Hopko Sr.’s grandson.

With the formal organization of the parish in 1914 came the first temple erected on one of the five lots donated by the late George F. Johnson. A sixth lot, the one on which the rectory now stands, is believed to have been donated to the parish by John Robble Sr., whose home adjoined the parish's property. Mr. Robble Sr. was a good friend of Mr. Johnson and served for many years as superintendent of the Endicott Johnson Sole Leather Tannery in Endicott.

The first temple was a simple rectangular structure, with a square cupola mounted over the front and a smaller one at the back. The familiar onion-shaped domes and bell tower were added later along with other aesthetic improvements. At the same time, the three bells still in use to this day were purchased by Mr. Robble with funds provided by St. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, financial benefactor and treasurer for the Russian Orthodox Church wherever it existed in the world at that time. The first wooden temple with its modifications in the 1920s served our parish until it was demolished in 1960 when the present brick temple was built.

A program booklet printed in 1952 states that the first parish committee consisted of Augustine Lewis as president, John Robble Sr. as treasurer, and Michael Hopko Sr. as secretary. It is likely, however, that this committee was probably installed after the dissident group had left because reliable sources claimed that Michael Butchko was the first president and remained in that office for several years. He was followed in office by Charles Planchak. Both Butchko and Planchak were part of the group that left to form the Watson Boulevard church.

Rectory records indicate that the first baby baptized and Chrismated in the new temple in 1914 was Mrs. George Spisak, the former Anne Miller and mother of parishioner Mary Tellep.

An article in a local newspaper in 1947 appears to have been well researched and gives fairly exact dates of tenure for all the priests serving our parish to date. The article states that Archbishop Alexander (Nemolovsky), primate of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church (Metropolia) in America, consecrated the new temple. The archbishop appointed Hieromonk Dionysius Pirko to celebrate the first Divine Liturgy and to serve as the first pastor. But within a few months, the Rev. Constantine Leontovich replaced Hieromonk Dionysius and remained only until the end of 1914, when he was himself succeeded by the Rev. Nicholas Borisoff. Fr. Borisoff's first pastorate in the parish ended in January 1917, when he was replaced by the Rev. Gregory Varhol; but in July 1917, the Rev. Peter Halkovich arrived and served as pastor until May 1919. Fr. Halkovich was replaced by the Rev. Basil Levdar for a few months and then was replaced by returning Fr. Borisoff who served until April 1920.


It was in 1919 that the unfortunate break between the two factions in the parish occurred. Based on information from several sources, the major disagreement centered on the matter of closer ties to the Church in Russia. At that time, Russia was under communist domination and the Church in Russia was itself in a state of turmoil. The Carpatho-Russians, who made up the majority of parishioners and had brought with them from the old country a strong dislike of Russian authority, were against any closer ties to Russia. A minor but nevertheless important point was the way in which the Carpatho-Russians were treated by those who considered themselves “High” Russians. The Carpatho-Russians were considered “Low” Russians and were often referred to in such pejorative terms as “unhorski” or “hungari”. But because the parish had been established by the Russian Orthodox Church, the only recourse left to the Carpatho-Russians to show their dissent was to leave and form another parish.

Regardless of why the split occurred or who was more at fault, the fact remains that it was a traumatic time for the young parish. The meeting on June 4, 1920, cited earlier, could easily have ended in open hostility were it not for the wise counsel of Mr. James F. Sullivan, a lawyer who was asked to be present. Mr. Sullivan advised both sides to come to an agreement then and there. Otherwise, he said, lawyers for the two factions would step in and with the help of the courts would make binding decisions that neither side might care for. To the credit of both groups, they did come to an agreement that night. The dissident group received what it wanted and the remaining parishioners were finally able to proceed with their parish life. But the pain of that split remained, for a lifetime in some instances, as evidenced by the fact that over the years it was next to impossible to get any of the founders to talk openly about what had really happened or to even acknowledge that the dissident group had ever existed.

The George F. Johnson Link

On a lighter note, there is an anecdote relayed to us about this earlier period before the schism. It seems that George F. Johnson was given to visiting the various churches particularly around Easter or Christmas. He would come in for about ten minutes and then take his leave after depositing a sizeable check in the offering. Of course, there was ample time to prepare for Mr. Johnson's visit because earlier in the week his office would alert the church of his intended visit. Whoever was president of the parish council would deem it an honor to be at the door to greet the Endicott-Johnson president. One parish council president in particular would attach a wide red ribbon diagonally across his chest in the manner of an ambassador and greet Mr. Johnson in this fashion.

Schism Again and the Migdal and Razakazoff Pastorates

In 1919 the link between the Church in Russia and her diocese in North America was broken by revolutionary events in Russia. Deprived of the guidance and help from its Mother Church in Russia, the American Diocese proclaimed its “temporary self-government,” acting in compliance with the decisions of the All-Russian Sobor (Council) of 1917-18 and the decree of Patriarch Tikhon about those dioceses temporarily cut off from central church authority. In 1924 in Detroit, the Diocese elected as its head Metropolitan Platon who before the revolution in Russia, had served in America as Diocesan Bishop. The American Diocese established itself under the name of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America, popularly known as “The Metropolia.” This separation of the American Diocese from its Mother Church continued until 1970 when His Holiness, Alexei I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, issued the Tomos [decree] of Autocephaly to its American Diocese. 

The aforementioned 1947 newspaper article further noted that the V. Rev. Theodore Migdal replaced the Rev. Borisoff in April 1920 and stayed until October 1921. It was during Fr. Migdal's pastorate that the remodeling of the original church building began. It was completed by his successor, the V. Rev. Paul Razalcazoff who remained until August 1924. It was at this time that the characteristic onion domes were added along with the bell tower and the front porch of the church. The church remained the same until 1960 when it was razed after the present temple was erected. Funds for the remodeling were raised chiefly through voluntary contributions, among the most generous of which were those from George F. Johnson, his son George W. Johnson, and Chester B. Lord, philanthropist and banker.

The Chepeleff and Klopotovsky Pastorates: 1924-1945

Succeeding Fr. Razakazoff was the V. Rev. Theodore Chepeleff whose pastorate was the first of substantial length for the young parish, lasting until August 1941. An active and dedicated pastor, Fr. Chepeleff reorganized the choir, helped form the young men of the parish into the Hussars Male Chorus (one of the finest Russian male choruses to come out of this area), established what was to become the Ladies Altar Society, and supported the formation of the local chapter of the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs (FROC), Chapter 43. Fr. Chepeleff also encouraged the parish to perform an annual Yolka (Christmas pageant), which usually took place at the Sons of Italy Hall on Odell Avenue.

By far the most popular ethnic-preserving activity, the Yolka is a program of readings and skits, all in Russian, presented by children of the parish who were required to attend Russian school two or three evenings a week at the church. Shortly after Christmas, each child would be given a poem or prose reading or a part in a skit to learn in Russian and be prepared to recite or perform it at the Yolka, which is what the program is called (Yolka in Russian means Christmas tree). And on occasion the adults would participate in the program by putting on a one- or two-act play in Russian. On the evening of the Yolka performance, the entire parish would turn out with everyone still in a happy, festive mood from the recent Christmas holidays. For their performances, the children were rewarded with Christmas candy, kolachki, and a gift, which were all presented by “St. Nicholas” who somehow escaped ever having to explain why he still managed to show up so late in January. It was simply taken for granted by the children that it was Santa's duty to “hang around” and appear at the Yolka.

In October 1941 just before the U.S. entered World War II, the V. Rev. Elias Klopotovsky was appointed by Metropolitan Theophilus to replace Fr. Chepeleff. During Fr. Klopotovsky's pastorate, the parish was able to retire its debt.

The Soroka Pastorate 1945-1951

In July 1945 just before the war ended, the Rev. Leonard Soroka, a graduate of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, succeeded the Rev. Klopotovsky. Fr. Soroka had just been ordained on June 24 in Yonkers and the Endicott parish was his first assignment. Fr. Soroka's sister and brother-in-law, Sylva and Joseph Elinitsky were members of the parish, as still are his niece and her family, Sylvia and Frank Urban.

In 1946, married parishioners were required to pay monthly dues of $1.50; working bachelors, $1.00; farmers, $1.00, and working single women, fifty cents. This was changed in 1949 and everyone was obligated to pay $1.50 monthly. In 1993, the system of monthly dues was discarded in favor of a stewardship program using the envelope system.

In 1947, pews were installed in the church for the first time. Until then the church had followed the custom of the Orthodox churches in Russia by having no pews and only one or two benches on the side for use by anyone in need.

The Parish Cemetery

The parish cemetery, adjoined by those of SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church and St. Mary's Orthodox Catholic Church, is bound by Newell Street and Taft Avenue. Cemetery plots in earlier days were maintained by individual family members. It was necessary to organize a work crew from time to time to mow and to maintain the portions of the cemetery not listed in individual names. Each spring there was a general cleanup to prepare for the services at the cemetery after Pascha. In recent years, cemetery blessings have been scheduled in the afternoon on Pentecost by which time the ground had a chance to dry out and harden from the previous winter's snow.

A new cemetery cross, eight feet high and five feet at its widest with the upper base four feet square and the lower base six feet square and cut of Black African granite in Barre, VT, was blessed October 28, 1989 by His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius and dedicated in honor of the millennium of the baptism of Kievan Rus'. In 2012 two granite benches in memory of Subdeacon Philip A.Tatusko (1922-2011) were installed on the small plaza surrounding the cross.

The parish also owned about 20 lots on upper Squires Avenue. At an earlier time this land had served as a picnic ground for the parish, but it had not been used as such for many years. Instead the parish rented Mr. Marko's Picnic Grove, which was located at what is now the northeast corner of Utica Street and N. McKinley Avenue. It was more convenient with ample parking and a wooden dance platform. Many pleasant Saturdays and Sundays were spent by our parishioners dancing, eating, and just enjoying each other's company at these church picnics. The lots in Squires Avenue were sold some time in the early 1970s.

The Kuharsky Pastorate 1952-1967

In 1951 the Rev. Leonard Soroka was succeeded by the V. Rev. George Solcoloff. In May 1951 just before Pascha, the V. Rev. Andrew Skripnilc Kuharsky arrived from his parish, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, in St. Clair, PA. succeeding Fr. Sokoloff. His prime purpose in coming to Endicott, he later confessed, was to help the parish build a new temple. Until his retirement in 1967, Fr. Kuharsky continued to promote the ethnic culture both within the parish and among his friends at the Endicott Kiwanis. His involvement with the Kiwanis allowed the community at large to get a bit more insight into the beauty and joy of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The V. Rev. Daniel Donlick recalls that in 1954 the parish celebrated its fortieth anniversary in the Pizur Woods up the hill from the church with an outdoor Hierarchical Divine Liturgy presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Leonty.

With the encouragement from Fr. Kuharsky, a building fund committee was elected in 1954 at a special meeting. In a 1955 meeting it was suggested that the present property be sold and a new temple be erected on a new site. Feelings, however, among a number of members were so strong against such a move, especially among the older members who lived nearby; the decision was then made to build the new temple next to the old one and then raze the old temple. Later the building fund committee was dissolved and a building committee was formed. Membership of the newly formed building committee, most the same as the dissolved building fund committee, included Bill Chura and Al Lewis as co-chairmen, John Cibulsky as secretary, Alexis Russin as attorney, Leo Fotorny, Milce Cibulsky Sr., Fr. Kuharsky, Sam Politylo, Steven Fensen, Charles Carson, Michael Boras, John Boras, John Panko, Al Koval, George Tatusko, John Warski Jr., Walter Warski and Al Kositsky.

Construction of the new temple commenced right after Pascha 1959 and was completed in the spring of 1960. Fr. Kuharsky performed a “small blessing” of the new temple and celebrated the first service in it during Holy Week, April 1960, and a few weeks later the first baptism, that of Daniel E. Dranchak (1960-2010).

The fiberglass domes were an experiment indulged in by the building committee and the Nikula Construction Company in an attempt to reduce the massive weight otherwise required in the conventional construction of onion-shaped domes. Originally a greenish shade, the domes were recovered in 1974 with a blue fiberglass paint and again in 1982 with the present shade of royal blue. The gold fiberglass crosses were replaced by three anodized aluminum crosses designed by Subdeacon Philip Tatusko and constructed in Florida. Reaching over seven feet in height, the center cross rested atop a scimitar, symbol of the victory over shamanist and Muslim Tatars who once overran and completely dominated Old Russia.

The new temple was consecrated on August 13, 1961 by His Grace, Iriney, Archbishop of Boston and New England. The choir of our sister parish from Binghamton, Dormition of the Virgin Mary, sang the responses to the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

On August 30, 1964 our parish celebrated its 50th anniversary with the blessing of the new stained glass windows and the elevation of Fr. Kuharsky to the rank of archpriest and the presentation to him of a mitre. Again it fell to Archbishop Iriney of Boston and New England to preside over the celebrations because Metropolitan Leonty was too ill to attend. A banquet was held that afternoon in the church hall with an outdoor tent erected next to the church to serve as an auxiliary banquet area so that the overflow crowd could be accommodated. In 1967, Fr. Kuharsky retired with the designation of Pastor Emeritus.

The Sudick Pastorate 1967-1990

The V. Rev Yaroslav G. Sudick arrived in Endicott right after Pascha 1967 from St. Vladimir Church, Lopez, PA. By February 1968, Fr. Sudick was able to move his family from temporary quarters that he and Matushka Valerie and daughter Lydia had occupied since their arrival in Endicott, into the new brick rectory built on the site of the old one.

Fr. Sudick had already been actively engaged with the outside community as a teacher of high school Russian language in Lopez. But before he could do likewise with the community in Endicott, there were changes that had to be initiated within this tightly knit parish. The winds of change had already started to blow within “The Metropolia” and Fr. Sudick knew that changes within this small parish had to come, although they would not be easy.

The first major task was to explain why “The Metropolia” felt the need for a calendar change from the old Julian calendar to the new Gregorian calendar. As expected, the change was not easy, but eventually a majority of the parishioners voted to make the change. Primarily, the change meant that Christmas would henceforth be celebrated on December 25 instead of January 7, and all other immoveable or fixed-feast holy days would be also be affected. The change would not affect the Paschal (Easter) cycle; Pascha would be celebrated according to the Julian calendar along with most other Orthodox Churches.

With the advent of autocephaly in 1970, the need for changes and growth both within the local parish and the OCA accelerated. The essential missionary character of the church was emphasized and in the following years, Fr. Sudick greatly increased his participation, and indirectly that of the parish, in the life of the community at large. Fr. Sudick was a social studies teacher at the Union-Endicott High School and also served on the board of SUNY Binghamton as chairman of the Local Board of Trustees. He was also a board and faculty member of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA. He also served as boardmember on both the Four County Library Systems and the George F. Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott.

Along with his wife, Matushka Valerie, who had been serving as choir director since 1974, Fr. Sudick introduced more English into the previously all Slavonic Church services. For several years thereafter, the services were in a mixture of English and Church Slavonic and only on occasion all in Slavonic.

In 1985 our parish helped launch a radio program called “The Orthodox Christian Program” which aired every Sunday between November 1985 and March 1997. Development of the program required great effort and expertise in the area of radio programming by Bill Dranchak, retired editor on the communications staff at IBM Endicott; David Dranchak, a former music major and an electrical engineer; and Carl Wall, a manager at WENE Radio, who was instrumental in providing the time slot for the program and oversaw the program in the WENE studio. The Dranchaks were responsible for producing the program. This production effort included researching and writing the material, creating a manuscript on the company's computer, recording the various program segments, and then putting all the parts together to create the master tape for the weekly broadcast. In addition, Bill Dranchak acted as host on the program.

The parish council authorized the expenditure of $3,000 for the purchase of equipment with which to produce the tapes. The sermons were often recorded at the church. The tapes of all programs were preserved by Bill Dranchak who donated the collection to the recently established Fr. John Meyendorff Memorial Library in the parish.

With the memorial funds, Fr. Sudick effected a total transformation of an otherwise ordinary temple interior into a glittering Byzantine jewel. In a Special Parish Assembly on July 27, 1975, a project with funding of $61,000 was approved. The project initially included murals in and above the Altar to be executed by Rolf Rohn of Pittsburgh, but this part of the project was never realized. The mosaic icons on the iconostasis, blessed and dedicated on May 11, 1980 along with a new altar (Holy Table), were crafted by the Castaman family of Pietrasanta, Lucca, Italy, masters of Florentine mosaics for over 1,500 years. The icons themselves are copied after the 14th and15th century iconographic style of St. Andrei Rublev. Wood carvings were executed by the Rabanser family of Austria following the style of Dionysius; the Rabansers have been wood carvers for over six centuries. Fr. Sudick and the Rudolph N. Rohn Co. of Pittsburgh, PA designed the iconostasis in consultation with parishioner Alexander A. Lewis. William Tellep Sr., president of the parish council, served as liaison between the parish and the Rohn Co. and supervised the construction of the entire project.

Ideas for various portions of the iconostasis were borrowed from three Russian cathedrals: the double porch (pillars) from the Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow, the three semicircles above the Royal (Beautiful) Doors, symbolic of the Holy Trinity, from the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Odessa, and the Royal Doors from the Holy Annunciation Cathedral in Yaroslavl.

Eclectic as the redecorating style may have appeared, under the guidance of Fr. Sudick the result has been not only a unified appearance but also the preservation of much of the beauty and style of the Russian and Byzantine cultures. With the large [1973] and small gold chandeliers imported from Greece along with a gold plated baptismal font [donated by the Ladies Altar Society in 1972], processional fans, vigil lights, new chandeliers for the choir along with matching wall lighting sconces for the nave, and many other imported handcrafted artifacts, the glistening interior of the temple reflects the splendor characteristic of Byzantine ecclesiastical style. A Byzantine style complementary vigil light chandelier was installed over the royal doors in 1973. Red carpeting, made possible by a generous donation from the Ladies Altar Society in 1976, was installed in 1980 along with the new iconostasis and mosaic icons in the style of St. Andrei Rublev. The temple is certainly one the most resplendent examples of Orthodox art not only in New York but perhaps on the entire East Coast. During Fr. Sudick's pastorate, pews were added in 1971 at the cost of $3,698 and a new and improved alarm system was installed in 1990 to provide better security.

The Yuschak Pastorate 1990-1992

The years during V. Rev. Nicholas Yuschak's term as rector of the parish were short, but fruitful. During Fr. Yuschak's pastorate, attempts were made to foster increased intra-Orthodox relations, cooperation and fellowship. To that end, Fr. Yuschak often visited other Orthodox parishes while they were sponsoring special events, such as concerts, dinners and fundraising efforts. One effort to foster cooperation was for Fr. Yuschak to assist the pastor of St. Mary's Orthodox Catholic Church on Jenkins Street, Endicott, with Holy Communion during their old calendar celebration of the Nativity of our Lord on January 7, while St. Mary's rector would reciprocate in assisting our parish on our December 25 celebration; this particular cooperation survived well into the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. It was during this pastorate that Mark A. Bohush was first appointed ad interim choir director, a position which in time became permanent.

The Karlgut Pastorate 1992-present

The V. Rev. Alexey Y. Karlgut was assigned by Archbishop Peter to the Endicott parish in 1992 having come from Holy Transfiguration Church in Pearl River, NY. At the outset of his pastorate, Fr. Alexey opined in his Vision 2000 printed in the 1993 Annual Report: “Last year we took some time to analyze our life as a community, family in Christ, and we came to a conclusion, that simply to continue to exist, from year to year, is not God's will.” Fr. Alexey then outlined six goals: divine worship, religious education, stewardship, Christian fellowship, evangelization and Christian charity. In the 31 years and counting of Karlgut's pastorate, he has initiated Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy for the major feasts of the church, Soul Saturdays, the full spectrum of liturgical services throughout Holy Week, as well as additional services for the Great Fast such as the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, the Akathist and Presanctified Liturgies, reintroduced Matins for Sundays before the Divine Liturgy, and slowly added outreach programs, both educational and charitable. Fr. Alexey, instantly recognizable by his Stentorian voice, has worn additional hats for many years: as faculty member of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, PA, as member of the Central Administration of the OCA and of the Diocesan Administration, as Dean of the New York State Deanery covering all of upstate New York, and since 2010 as director of and instructor in the Diaconate Formation Program formed at the request of His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York.

In 2009 an underground addition of the entire length of the church and an elevator with vestibule were added, enabling the parish to host more than one event simultaneously, holding Sunday School classes without interference from anything or anybody in the social hall. Further, Fr. Alexey sought to bring professional talent to the parish choir by recruiting as choir director Professor Gleb Ivanov, classical pianist and graduate of the Moscow Conservatory of Music and Maria Guryleva, a Religious Educator, as assistant choir director, professional singer and voice coach for the youth programs; she is also an expert in Russian, Ulcrainian and Church Slavonic, with intimate knowledge of culture, language and history of our church. And yet further, in order to provide for all these programs and improvements, Fr. Alexey has worked to add more clergy to the parish. Presently Fr. Alexey is assisted by the V. Rev. Timmothy Holowatch and the Rev. John D. Bohush, both sons of the parish. Fr. John performed yeoman's work by providing divine services for St. George Orthodox Church in Buffalo for nearly a two year period after his ordination on July 19, 2011 to the Holy Priesthood. For limited periods of time, Fr. Timmothy Holowatch has presided as priest-in-charge over St. Innocent Orthodox Mission in Oneonta and Holy Apostles Mission in Lansing. And still further, other men have been ordained for service in the altar, to wit: Rev. Dn. Mark A. Bohush, who is presently assisting at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Syracuse and who had served in the Herkimer parish for the first year after his ordination to the Holy Diaconate, Rev. Dn. Simeon Peet currently assigned to Endicott, Subdn. Monk Stavros (Lever), Subdn. Michael E. Pylypciw [ordained December 3, 2011], Subdn. Ilya Arnopolskiy transferred from Brooklyn, NY, and Reader Andrew M. Bohush [blessed to wear the orarion May 22, 2010].

The Renovation and Extension Projects

In the late 1990s the unpaved lot on the corner, the former site of the previous temple, was paved over to form a parking lot, a task supervised by John Sweden. Also in the late 1990s, the complete refurbishment of the parish kitchen was spearheaded by Ann Kolota. In 1998 the domes of the temple were refurbished, a project supervised by Subdeacon Philip Tatusko. In 2001 all the exterior doors of the temple were replaced as authorized by Special Parish Assembly of October 15, 2000.

By early 2003 it was becoming very obvious to anyone who scoured the interior walls of the church, that action was needed to correct the deteriorating plaster throughout the church interior, not only the apse, but also the walls and ceilings of the nave, dome, narthex, choir loft and stairwells. Under the leadership of Fr. Alexey Karlgut and Parish Council President Subdeacon Mark A. Bohush, Daniel J. Gorey Jr. was tasked with the responsibility of identifying the areas needing repair, finding a contractor able and willing to undertake the restoration, and presenting a coherent proposal to the parish. At a Special Parish Assembly on March 14, 2004, Dan Gorey presented a proposal made by Hughes Painting and Restoration of Archbald, PA for extensive work throughout the church building including installation of insulation (N.B. the church building has brick on cinderblock and plaster, but no insulation), sealing, plastering, and painting. The Special Assembly approved the proposal of the project for $23,000; in the end the total costs came to $21,719. The work was completed, as projected, just in time for the 90th Anniversary celebration of the parish's founding.

By 2006 it was becoming very apparent of the need to undertake a building project that would allow for separate classrooms for the Sunday School instead of draped off areas within the parish social hall, and for an elevator that would reach the social hall, church proper and the choir loft. Both elements of the project would serve two segments of our growing parish family: children and seniors. At a Special Parish Assembly held June 3, 2007, the parish unanimously approved a proposed fundraiser, 2008 Labor Day Extravaganza, conceived and spearheaded by Joseph Darling, to begin funding the project; an anonymous parishioner kicked off the fundraising by donating $ 100,000.

In consultation with architect V. Rev. Alexis Vinogradov, a preliminary architectural proposal was made October 11, 2007 that would create an additional 1,300 feet of space, underground and excavated to the right of the Church, dedicated for four classrooms, with one room fitted out to serve also as a parish library, meeting room with conference table and a large room to house the walk-in freezer and kitchen equipment and supplies. The inclusion of an elevator on the right side would eventually require the creation of space at all three levels. The addition of the above ground structure was constructed with identical brick and stone features to match the existing church building; it is indistinguishable from the 1960 structure. Also included in the extension plans was the construction on the south side of a wheelchair ramp, a project proposed in 1999, but was vetoed in a Special Parish Assembly of May 9, 1999, when costs exceeded original anticipated expense, but now required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 for all new public structures and modifications.

The annual parish assembly in January 2008 approved the extension project not to exceed $330,000 and the project was completed by January 2009 with the final costs after minor tweaking of $307,385. Keystone Associates was the project architect and Eagle Construction was the contractor. Supervising the project was Dan Gorey Jr. who spent nearly every day at the construction site ready to answer any questions that arose over the construction. Richard Sura was very much involved in seeing that the contractor fulfilled the building specifications during construction. To finish the classrooms and the freezer room (now relocated at the back of the underground construction) and to rebuild the old social hall, another $49,800 was needed.

The completed extension was blessed by then Archimandrite Michael Dahulich, bishop-elect for the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, in the spring of 2010. The extension has enabled the parish to organize, conduct and host as many as three events simultaneously. Regional conferences, wedding and baptism receptions, seminars, diocesan assemblies, ordination receptions, birthday parties, weekly AA meetings, St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Endicott campus) Diaconal Formation Program, CHOW Food Pantry, and a voting station are held in our expanded premises.


Beginning in January 2009, the parish sponsored Divine Liturgies at two local nursing home facilities, United Methodist Hilltop Home in Johnson City and Good Shepherd Village at Endwell. Three of the Divine Liturgies were led by our chief shepherd, Bishop Michael. This particular outreach simultaneously offered the students in the Diaconal Formation Program to participate and to witness this type of outreach. Both facilities were very forthcoming in publicizing the Divine Liturgies and making us feel welcome. For the first two years a small choir consisting of Helen and Edward Pasternak, Peter H. Bridge and choir director Gregory Sagan, formed a consistent nucleus for singing the responses; beginning in 2011 students of the Diaconal Formation Program with some parishioners provided a choir.

Each year more than 200 visitations/communion calls were made by SS. Peter and Paul priests and deacons. These ministrations were to shut-ins at home and nursing homes as well as to parishioners in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Besides bringing Holy Communion, weekly bulletins, parish calendars, copies of Jacob's Well, red poinsettia plants, Easter lilies and holy water were delivered to parishioners.

For seven years covering 2006-2012, SS. Peter and Paul Film Festival comprising six films shown once a month from May through October was held at the home of Deacon Simeon (Terry) Peet. For the first six years, only commercially issued films intended for a large commercial market, with moral, religious and ethical messages, were shown. The 2012 film festival featured only films made specifically for a Christian audience with a Christian message; the seed for such a genre of films was planted by Deborah Darling who had viewed Second chance, which ultimately led to the discovery of the other five films for 2012. Snacks and beverages are voluntarily provided by attendees and a discussion of the film is held at the end.

Attendance was between 20 to 30 persons. No film festival was held in 2013 because the venue was no longer available; the eighth annual film festival took place in 2015 in the parish social hall.

In addition to other regular adult education classes, catechetical courses, discussion groups and scripture classes (spurred by the request of a parishioner) were held weekly beginning in mid-June on Thursday mornings at 10:00 a.m. Instruction given by Deacon Simeon began with the Gospel of Matthew and continued at the beginning of October with the Gospel of Luke. More than 25 different individuals have attended, including three from our sister parish, Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Binghamton, but attendance averages between eight and 13 people. The Gospel of Luke was studied during the Weeks of Luke, a one class overview of the Gospel of Mark was taught, followed by a twelve week instruction on the history, meaning and development of the Divine Liturgy. In September 2013, the study of the Gospel of John was undertaken.

For many years in the 1980s through the early first decade of the twenty-first century, Clement Lukovich chaired the committee on adult education and arranged for lectures and courses on scripture, church history and teaching. Attendance at these events fluctuated between 20 and 40 people.

The parish, under the leadership of the V. Rev. Timmothy Holowatch, formed in January 2009 its own food pantry within the Broome County Council of Churches’ Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) Program. The former coat closet was converted into the pantry and several parishioners volunteered to maintain the food pantry three days each week for a total of approximately 6 to 7 hours weekly. After nearly five years of operation,  the food pantry was closed in October 2013 because of declining referrals from CHOW and volunteers. Through the generosity of our parishioners, the Orthodox Catholic Basketball League, and the Broome County Council of Churches, over $350,000 of food was distributed to local needy.

Diocesan Diaconal Formation Program

The Diocesan Diaconal Formation Program was inaugurated on September 11, 2010. As the program's twelve enrolled students progressed diligently and rapidly through a second semester, it became apparent that God's blessings were upon the endeavor. Reflecting upon the formulation and inauguration of this program in our diocese, Bishop +Michael states: “What is essential about this Diocesan Diaconate Program, established by Saint Tikhon's Seminary, is personal formation. A deacon or a priest, for that matter, cannot be formed personally, spiritually, or even liturgically from only textbooks or on-line coursework. Formation in the tradition of our spiritual fathers, the saints, can only be done in person.”

Revitalization of the diaconate in terms of diaconia (service) and martyria (witness) is the chief goal and raison d'étre for His Grace in establishing the program. The diaconate as we see it today in this country is a far cry from its traditional expression throughout the history of the church.

Presently the diaconate, except for small instances in this country, has been reduced to liturgical service and no more. The traditional role of deacons serving those in need has virtually disappeared and it is Bishop +Michael's intention to restore the fullness of the diaconate to its historical service and witness, both in and beyond the altar. Of course, there is emphasis on liturgical practice and serving. “Liturgical practicum is so important in diaconal formation,” said Bishop +Michael, “men need to know, by experience, the divine services before they can love them ... and to be a good deacon means you have to love the Liturgy, you have to love Vespers and Matins or Vigil. You can't love something you don't know ... and, again, you can't learn to love from a textbook or on-line.” So too, the formation of men to be truly functioning deacons of the Church implies a ministry of service and witness beyond serving at liturgical services. As His Grace puts it, “The need for personal formation in ordained ministry is articulated for us beatifuIIy by St. Gregory the Theologian: ’A man himself must be cleansed, before cleansing others; himself be knowledgeable, that he may teach others; become light, and then give light; draw near to God, and so bring others near; be hallowed, in order to be able to make them holy; be possessed of leadership in order to read others by the hand; possess wisdom in order to give advice.’ (Oration 2, 71). His words form the inspiration for this program.”

Of the three major orders of clergy -- diaconate/deacons, presbyterate/priests, episcopate/bishops -- the diaconate was established first. In the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Chapter 6) we read that seven men were selected to assist with the charitable work of the Christian community. Ideally, every parish should have at least one deacon. It is the restoration of this particular aspect of the diaconate that Bishop +Michael wishes to effect.

This program, an adjunct off-campus extension of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, is headquartered at the campus of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Endicott NY. The program's placement in Endicott reflects its central geographic location for New York State and the presence of an extensive parish library for its students required for accreditation.

Graduates of the program from our parish are Dn. Mark Bohush, Dn. Simeon Peet and Subdn. Michael E. Pylypciw. Parishioners Subdn. Ilya Arnopolskiy and Monk Subdn. Stavros [Lever] also participated in the program.

Serving Clergy from SS. Peter and Paul Church

In recent years the number of clergy serving the parish has grown to include the following as of September 2023:

V. Rev. Alexey Y. Karlgut, rector

Rev. Timmothy Holowatch, assistant

Rev. Dn. Mark Bohush

(assisting at SS. Peter & Paul, Syracuse, NY)

Dn Stephan Karlgut

Subdn. Monk Stavros (Lever)

Subdn. Michael E. Pylypciw

Subdn. Ilya Arnopolskiy

Subdn. Andrew Bohush

Subdn. Luke Pylypciw

Matushka Tatiana Khalimov, choir director

The Context: How We Fit In

In this country we owe our presence to waves of immigration from the ancient Patriarchates and Local Churches that began at the end of the 19th century. Our parish is a microcosm of that immigration and our organization here reflects the fact that the Eastern Church is administratively decentralized, governed from centers old and new by ancient canons adapted ad hoc to modern conditions. This has advantages and disadvantages. So in service to the Gospel Message we must be self-critical and cultivate the Truth, while discerning mere human traditions and surmounting ethnic difficulties. We must all face the challenge of the modern world and of our second century.

It is a historical fact which no one can deny that the Christian East has remained aloof from the great controversies and changes which have occurred in the West as a result of papal centralization, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. The Orthodox Christian East went on developing and living according to the great patristic tradition: the theology, sacramental doctrine, biblical-world piety and spirituality of the Fathers, and above all their sacramental conception of the Church.  She deliberately refused to identify herself with any particular systematization of philosophical thought and divine Revelation such as (quasi-Aristotelian) Scholasticism. And the constitution of the Church in the East was never thought of solely in terms of laws by which a law-dominated institution was governed.

As a matter of fact, the Orthodox Church never provided herself with a codification of canon law. The canons issued by the early Church councils were regarded merely as expressions of the Church's nature under certain concrete circumstances, a sort of “jurisprudence of the Holy Spirit”, as it were. They were never transformed into a kind of juridical supergovernment, never looked upon as a means by which to exercise an effective control over all members of the Church, centrally or from above. We merely wish to point out that the West has gone much further in these two directions than the East.

Similarly the Gospel Message itself: the Orthodox Christian East never considered the Gospel as a system of legal prescriptions which men could adopt overnight. We must accept “life according to the Gospel”, as St. Basil the Great puts it, as a commitment and common ground. It means ongoing struggles against sin and evil. Love of God and neighbor resists reduction to a system of legal “obligations.”

The Orthodox Christian Church summons all Christians to return to the faith of the Apostles and Fathers which she is conscious of having preserved in its fullness. Her claims are as exclusive and categorical as those of Rome. Our ecumenical task, if we can speak that way, is to urge the Western Church on the one hand fraternally to return to our common sources, and Protestant groups on the other to be more receptive to the idea of Tradition as a source of Revelation.

Our Active Life and Welcome

We open our doors and hearts to all who want to share a commitment to God in dynamic Orthodox Christian Faith through worship, fellowship, stewardship, and spiritual growth. Throughout each year we have a very active liturgical life where clergy and laity join together in praising and worshiping Christ, experiencing the life of God's Kingdom here and now. We celebrate a complete Great Lent, Paschal, Nativity, and Theophany cycles; major and minor feasts, baptisms, Chrismations, weddings, anniversary and healing prayer services, blessing of houses, Soul Saturdays, funerals, panikhidas (memorial services), blessing of the cemetery and of the graves. Responses to all services are beautifully sung by our choir and congregation.

Active organizations and ministries in the parish are: Sunday School, Choir, Adult Study Group, Film Festival arid Discussion Forum, The Ladies Altar Society, RBO, Senior and Junior R Clubs, ministry to shut-ins and sick, outreach and Charity Committee, Social life and Sports Committee, and Fundraising Committee. Altar boys ranging from 6 to 18 years of age assist the pastors with all the services. A Parish Council of some seventeen members is elected yearly to assist in administration and maintenance of all church property. Our parish has an active educational program for children, teens, and adults as well as excellent opportunities for fellowship and socialization.

We have a yearly parish picnic, R Club Picnic, Sunday School baseball outings and picnic, parish golf tournament, Jr. R Club Bowling tournament, bus trips sponsored by the parish, parish basketball teams of Girls, JV Boys, and Adults, Fun and Games Night, as well as many other activities throughout the year. Christ commanded as to "love one another as He has loved us first". We strive to live this commandment in our daily lives as a parish family and welcome you to join us.

Our Sojourn Continues

Our parish is organically the same congregation born at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on Pentecost. Our parish carries on an uninterrupted, continuous Tradition going back to the apostolic origins of the Christian faith. Our parish professes “the faith once delivered to the saints", having added nothing, subtracted nothing, and distorted nothing. Our parish is one small but vibrant part of the larger Orthodox Catholic Church of the East, that is engaging the Southern Tier and welcomes seekers. Our parish in the Name of the Lord Jesus bids you welcome to “come and see.”

The Mission of The Orthodox Church in America, the local autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

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Ss. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church is part of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, which is presided over by The Most Reverend MICHAEL, Archbishop of New York and the Diocese of New York & New Jersey. Our mission is bringing the joy of Christ's resurrection to those who have never heard the Good News, and to strengthen and encourage the faithful who reside within Endicott and the local area. 

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The Holy Scripture is a collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired by God to do so. It is the primary witness to the Orthodox Christian faith, within Holy Tradition and often described as its highest point. It was written by the prophets and apostles in human language, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and collected, edited, and canonized by the Church.

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Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man's effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit.

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