/ Media / Archived News / Building a Church in Mechanicsburg
Building a New Church in Mechanicsburg
The Construction Process Timeline - latest to earliest

The Floors - 08/29/16

(14 images)

Installing Cross - 07/28/16

(3 images)

Drywall - 04/06/16

(13 images)

Interior Carpentry - 12/06/15

(19 images)

Sheathing - 11/18/15

(6 images)

Walls 2 - 10/12/15

(16 images)

The Foundation - 09/09/15

(12 images)

Excavation and Footers - 07/30/15

(54 images)

Dome Installation - 07/26/16

(9 images)

Interior Carpentry January 2016 - 01/02/16

(14 images)

Sheathing 2 - 11/22/15

(10 images)

Roof 2 - 11/16/15

(14 images)

Walls 2 - 10/12/15

(16 images)

Walls - 09/15/15

(17 images)

Excavation and Footers - 07/30/15

(54 images)

“Unless the Lord builds the house…”

 By Fr. Timothy Hojnicki

On Christmas Day, 2010, at the end of the Festal Divine Liturgy, I presented to the parish a large flat present wrapped with a fancy bow, and asked the kids of the parish to open it. To the surprise of many, the sign read “MORTGAGE PAID IN FULL.” The “5 Year Plan” actually was done in four years. On that festive morning, we celebrated the Great Feast of the Lord’s Nativity, which was made that much more joyful by also commemorating this significant milestone in the life of our parish. Ok great...but now what? In the year previous, we constituted a Vision Committee to begin to look down the road as to what we wanted to do. Buy a new building? Rent something bigger? Buy property? As we narrowed down the vision of the parish, all options were on the table. To say it was daunting would be an understatement. You figure, 70-some adults with their own ideas of what they wanted – that’s tough! We put together a survey online for our parishioners to fill out, which helped us narrow down ideas and see where was the focus of the community. We came up with some general ideas, but they were just that… general. We owned a space that seemed to be rapidly shrinking, and had nothing else but ideas and lots of prayer. Fast forward a few years. A friend of ours from the local Greek Orthodox Cathedral mentioned he had a business acquaintance who owned some land from which he might be willing to part. After a brief initial meeting, and then a lot of phone calls and stop/start appointments, and several months of negotiations, we were set to purchase 13.6 acres of farmland on the outskirts of Mechanicsburg. On the Ides of March, 2013, we finally signed the papers. Caesar might have had a bad experience with March 15, but for us, this was a good day. Ok, so we now knew we had some land and wanted to build a church… so how exactly do we do that? We established a Building Committee with several parishioners who had some experience in this field, and began the process of formulating a plan. We knew we were not financially ready to build the Agia Sophia replica just quite yet, but the overcrowded Sundays told us we needed a plan soon, as it we are bursting at the seems!. We developed a plan, a two (maybe three?) phase plan that we gradually could grow into – financially, physically, and God-willing, spiritually. Basically, “Phase I” will be a 7,800 sq. ft. hall, divided so that the east end will be a chapel (just about doubling the size of our chapel space now), and the western side will have a hall area, kitchen, and three classrooms. Our goal for this multi-phased is to use this space for the foreseeable future. Down the road, when we have a better financial base we will set out to build a proper and traditional Orthodox temple next door. The two buildings will connected by a concourse, making a complex where you don’t need to take off your jacket to go from one to the other. Once this plan was approved, we decided to bless the property and erect a cross on the site. On Sunday, October 13, 2013, we gathered on the new site and celebrated a Moliben of Thanksgiving and the blessing of the cross and the property itself. Fr. Alexander Atty, of blessed memory, and Fr. Stephen Vernak were both with us, along with about 100 faithful from the local parishes, for that beautiful day. Everyone was encouraged to bring a handful of soil from their own homes to put on the property, signifying that this was now a part of all of our lives. Soil from the Holy Land and St. Herman of Alaska’s grave, also were added to the pile as a reminder of both our heavenly Patrons, the Holy Apostles, and the patron of the Church in America, St. Herman of Alaska. Everyone then took a turn turning over a spade of dirt ceremoniously starting the project. Once the land was blessed, we now needed to obtain the financing of the loan to pay for this bold, yet doable plan. While we worked on financing, in the summer of 2014, we used internal church funds to have the property graded and prepared for the potential building. Retention and detention ponds were installed (which really did their jobs with our abundant summer rains!) and everything was ready for the next step. Finally the bank presented us with a favorable offer. In addition to the construction of the hall, Phase I includes the installation and consecration of a parish cemetery on the land adjacent to what will be eventually the temple. In October 2014, the parish gathered to make the final decision on whether to take on the $1.5 million loan. The presentation was given to His Grace, Bishop Mark, who enthusiastically blessed it. The parish received the presentation well, and unanimously agreed to go forward with the loan and the building project. In January of 2015, we signed the loan documents with the bank. At the time of this article, we are waiting for the building permits to be approved by the township and to receive the “green light” to start building the “Phase I” structure. It’s an exciting time, but really this part isn’t the exciting part by comparison. The best parts have been happening internally… What I mean by that is that in the midst of all of this, the Lord has sent numerous blessings. First and foremost there have been the people. Some have been converts who have found Orthodoxy through our parish, others are families that moved to the area. However they have come to us, we rejoice and welcome them into the parish family! Then there are also the physical blessings. Many donations for liturgical items have come – some even hand-made and built by parishioners! We have Royal and Deacon Doors, new choir stands and a tomb for Pascha, all built by talented parishioners. Our intention is that these gifts will be taken to the new building and used there as well. The best one, which pleasantly shocked all of us, was this past summer when I received a call from a dear family friend with an amazing offer: bells! These are the same bells that were brought to St. Michael's in Wilmington, DE for my wedding and ordination back in 2004 and 2005. The owner was looking to downsize, and wanted to return them to a church. Knowing my love of bells, he offered them to our mission – free of charge! After some work to find a place to hold them (as our current facility is not ideal), the bells were picked up the week before Christmas from Delaware. We used them (a lot) for that first weekend and then put the bells in storage until the new building is built and they can be properly secured. The faithful in Mechanicsburg thank God for this amazing gift that will be heard throughout Mechanicsburg! The three bells weigh 1900lbs, 950lbs, and 450lbs, respectively. As is our tradition we plan to name them. We decided Faith (950lbs.), Hope (450lbs.), and Love (the greatest of these…1900lbs.)! So there you have it! It has been a wild ride the last few years, getting to the point where we are ready to actually build. There has been a lot of hard work, faithful stewardship, and more meetings then I’d like to count. But, what is so amazing and so humbling is to see the hand of God in all of it. “Coincidences” and “lucky breaks” were none other than God’s providence at work in this project all along. Who would have thought that 10 years ago this idea of a Mission on the Western shore of the Susquehanna would blossom into a mature parish community ready to take the next step in its development? I am thankful to God for being the pastor of this Christ-centered and dedicated parish. We ask everyone to pray for us in this holy endeavor. We hope to have the building up within the year, and look forward to welcoming you all to it. Please visit our parish website at www.holyapostleschurch.org for updates. May God’s will be done in our midst! Glory to God for all things!

If you would like to make a donation towards our Building Fund, please forward them to Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission: 5006 E. Trindle Rd. Mechanicsburg, PA 17050


Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania | Contact