Saint Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church began its formation in 1984 as a mission in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, dedicated to providing a “pan-Orthodox” parish of the Antiochian Archdiocese, preaching the Gospel in English while respecting and embracing a variety of cultures. The mission was led by the V. Rev. Fr. John Kahle of blessed memory, beginning with forty-five founding members.
In January of 1987, by the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, St. Paul’s was officially granted the status of a mission of the Archdiocese, with the parish constitution blessed in 1989. Services were held in a small church building on S. 4th Street in downtown Emmaus, just south of the Emmaus Triangle, and in January of 1992 the parish celebrated its fifth anniversary, with events presided over by His Grace, Bishop ANTOUN.
In time, it became clear that the small building housing the mission was no longer sufficient to the parish’s needs, so in July of 1992 a search began for new property. In 1996, purchase of the property at 156 E. Main Street was completed, with renovations beginning immediately. In March of 1997, shortly before Pascha (Easter), the new building officially opened. Services have been held there since that time. On September 28, 1997, with the dedication of the new property, Fr. John was elevated to the rank of archpriest, and Theodore J. Mikovich was ordained to the holy diaconate.
In May of 1999, Fr. John retired as the pastor of the parish. Dcn. Theodore was ordained to the holy priesthood on May 12 and appointed to serve as Fr. John’s successor as pastor. In 2003, another member of St. Paul’s, Thomas Underwood, was ordained to the diaconate to serve in the parish.
With the formation of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic in December of 2004, the episcopal leadership of the parish was taken up by His Grace, Bishop THOMAS.
On October 15, 2005, St. Paul’s was officially consecrated by Bishop THOMAS, and into the holy altar were placed the relics of the Apostle Paul, St. Joseph the Betrothed, St. Anna (the mother of the Virgin Mary), St. John Cassian and St. Theodore the General. By December of 2007, the mortgage on the parish property was paid off, and a mortgage burning celebration was held. On April 6, 2008, Fr. John reposed in peace and departed this life.
In July of 2009, Fr. Theodore retired from active ministry, being elevated to the rank of archpriest that same year, and was succeeded by the Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick.
During Fr. Andrew’s administration, in addition to both numerical and financial growth in the parish, the parish’s ministries have been expanded and enhanced in a number of ways: the introduction of daily worship services, holding regular adult education classes, broadening of outreach and charitable engagement with the Emmaus community and beyond, energetic use of the Internet and social media for communication, increase in education and use of the art of Byzantine chant in worship, the institution of by-laws and a full budget for the parish council, greater participation in Archdiocesan and pan-Orthodox activities, the initiation of a highly successful stewardship program, considerable expansion and organization of the parish library, and the formation of local chapters of both Teen SOYO and the Fellowship of St. John the Divine.
Fr. Andrew’s pastoral work in the parish also has reached beyond the parish and is available in Ancient Faith Radio podcasts Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and Roads from Emmaus, as well as in the popular Conciliar Press book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, published in 2011 and already in its second printing.
In 2012, St. Paul’s celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary since its founding by the Archdiocese in 1987, with festivities presided over by His Grace, Bishop THOMAS. 2013 saw the hosting of the Eastern Dioceses Parish Life Conference by the parish, bringing together some fifty churches in one place to pray, learn and work together.