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A History of the Church

Celebrating 25 Years
 
Over twenty five years ago, approximately 17 Antiochian Orthodox Christian families residing in Edmonton, Alberta had a dream to establish a church that would allow them to observe their faith, and to establish a spiritual foundation for their children, and for generations to follow. While other Orthodox churches were in existence in the city, none conducted prayers, in whole or in part, in Arabic - the native tongue of these few families. Most members of the group were bilingual, however, many of the elder members were not fluent in English, thereby making it difficult to totally comprehend pastor sermons and prayers offered in English by other Orthodox churches. Hence, the road began to the set and implement goals that would make their dream a reality.

After only a few years of small scale fundraising, in September of 1978, the group established a Mission under the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. St. Philip Mission was the first step towards the establishment of a church. It clearly demonstrated the practical and the legal intentions to work towards the founding of a church, including the assignment of a full time pastor. From this point forward, much faith, dedication and hard work went into the realization of their dream.

Through tireless fundraising by means of bake sales, raffles, charity dinners, and member donations, after only a couple of years, the status of the organization was elevated to that of Church. While an actual building did not yet exist, members took the opportunity to practice their faith by renting halls and church basements to conduct the Divine Liturgy every Sunday, and observe other Orthodox feasts and celebrations. In addition, organizations, including: the Antiochian Women; Church Choir; Teen SOYO; and, Church School were established to enhance and build upon the spiritual foundation of the Church. These years were also marked by members donating their time and services, and by leveraging their contacts for the donation of building materials and services, all of which led to the commencement of the construction of the Church building in 1980. The building was completed in June 1981, and on the 14th day of that month and year, St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church was officially consecrated by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Philip. It was the first Church in the Antiochian Christian Archdiocese of North America to be established in Western Canada.

Today, the Church building, itself, with a few renovations and improvements, survives in the City of Edmonton at 15804-98 Avenue. Since its inception, St. Philip has grown to include many families. Today the community consists of approximately 70 families, and over 170 individuals. Also, the organizations within the Church have grown and remain strong in the vital role that they play. Clearly, the Church serves as the spiritual foundation of the community; it caters to its bilingual population in both English and Arabic and to the new generation of youth in predominantly English; and, it also helps to preserve many cherished ethnic traditions. It is through cooperation, hard work, sacrifice, and a commitment to God that St. Philip Church is a dream come true, a reality celebrating 25 years. And, it is these qualities, and the will of God, that will carry the Church forward for many more years to come. 
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