Establishment of St. Sava Parish
History of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Seattle/Issaquah
December, 1986 – July, 2005
For many years the Serbian Orthodox faithful in Seattle, Washington, dreamed of having their own church, a parish priest, regular church services, and religious education for adults and children. On December 16, 1986, Bishop Sava of thrice-blessed memory (temporary Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Western Diocese and Bishop of Sumadija) and Father Nicholas Soraich (parish priest at Saint Simeon in Las Vegas and now Bishop of Alaska —OCA) traveled to Seattle and met with twenty-five (25) Serbian Orthodox believers in the home of Mike and Cathy Jankovich. The group discussed previous efforts to form a Serbian Orthodox Church. Father Soraich shared his successful experiences in building new Serbian Orthodox Churches in Billings, Montana and Las Vegas, Nevada.
At the end of the meeting, Bishop Sava and the Seattle faithful decided to establish the Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Seattle. Bishop Sava appointed an advisory Executive Board composed of Jeffrey Jaksich, Mike Jankovich, Janet Jukanovich, Donald Mamula, Mark Milodragovich, and Mirko Spasojevich. George Yankovich and Helena Shelley were subsequently added to the Executive Advisory Board.
On December 17, 1986, Bishop Sava named Father Soraich as Saint Sava’s Administrator and issued a written declaration stating: „In accordance with article 11 of the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada, the Serbian Orthodox Parish of Saint Sava in Seattle, Washington is FOUNDED AND CREATED as a component part of and bound to the Serbian Orthodox American Western Diocese.“
In a letter dated December 30, 1986, Father Soraich expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Seattle faithful and encouragement for the future:
„It was good to talk with you on the 16th. I feel good about the prospects in Seattle. With some time and patience it can turn into a very good parish. Let’s be patient but deliberate in our efforts.”
A total of six Saturday divine liturgies were held in 1987 at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle. Father Soraich traveled from Las Vegas, Nevada for each liturgy. The first liturgy of the new St. Sava congregation was held on January 24, 1987. The St. Sava choir from Vancouver, British Columbia sang the responses. Approximately sixty five parishioners attended the liturgy. A traditional lunch with tambura music followed liturgy.
On March 9, 1987, Saint Sava became a Washington non-profit corporation.
On April 25, 1987, approximately sixty parishioners attended a second liturgy at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Following services, a barbecued lamb lunch was served and a local tambura band entertained everyone in attendance. Additional Saturday liturgies were held on July 25, September 26, November 7, December 5, 1987, and January 30, 1988.
On February 27, 1988, Bishop Sava served the first hierarchical divine liturgy, assisted by Father Soraich. Following liturgy, Bishop Sava and Father Soraich encouraged the Seattle faithful to continue with their efforts to build the first Serbian Orthodox Church in the Pacific Northwest.
Father Soraich continued to serve the Seattle faithful during monthly Saturday divine liturgies during 1988 (August 27, September 24, October 29, and November 12) at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and the Saint Spiridon Orthodox Church in Seattle.
Following the November 12, 1988 liturgy, Father Soraich agreed to be relieved from his position as Temporary Administrator of Saint Sava.
On December 10, 1988, Saint Sava had a hierarchal liturgy at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church for Bishop Chrysostom, the newly enthroned Bishop of the Western American Diocese. Father Dennis Pavicevic, the parish priest at Saint Stevens Cathedral in Los Angeles, was the celebrant priest.
Following a Feast of the Nativity service on January 7, 1989, Father Pavicevic returned to Seattle for a special Savindan celebration. An extremely large group greeted Father Pavicevic for Divine Liturgy and the banquet. Father Pavicevic encouraged the faithful to continue to take the necessary steps to establish a church in Seattle.
Saint Sava continued to have monthly Saturday liturgies at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and the Saint Spiridon Cathedral from February 18 through June, 1989.
In June, 1989, Saint Sava received its first donation to build a Church. Two brothers, Lou and George Tomich, donated $5,000.00 in memory of their mother. Also in June, 1989, the Executive Board made arrangements to rent the Polish Hall at 1714 18th Avenue in Seattle for Sunday divine liturgies. Bishop Chrysostom promised to provide temporary priests from California for the services. The first Sunday liturgy in the Polish Hall was held on July 23, 1989, and was officiated by Father Petar Jovanovic from the Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in San Gabriel, California.
On August 11, 1989, Saint Sava purchased a communion cup, censor, cross, and Gospel for a generously reduced price from Father Dositei Obradovich, a retired priest with Northwest ties. During previous liturgies, it was necessary for visiting priests to transport all necessary altar items for divine liturgy. The new purchase was presented to the Saint Sava faithful at divine liturgy in the Polish Hall on August 13, 1989. The purchase of altar items by a small number of Saint Sava believers gave the group hope that they could ultimately accomplish their goal of building a Serbian Orthodox Church in Seattle. Father Obradovich also donated numerous icons, crosses and other religious items and gave the Saint Sava Executive Board a great deal of advice and encouragement during the early years of Saint Sava.
On September 17, 1989, Father Nikolai Dimitrijevic traveled from New York to Seattle to serve a divine liturgy. It was becoming increasingly difficult to arrange for visiting priests and, thus, on October 4, 1989, Bishop Chrysostom appointed Father Vasilije Cvijanovic as Administrator of Saint Sava in Seattle. Father Cvijanovic was then serving as assistant priest in Moraga, California. Father Cvijanovic served at divine liturgies on October 22, and November 19, 1989 in the Polish Hall and continued to serve until September, 1990.
On December 10, 1989, Bishop Chrysostom traveled to Seattle for a second time. Following liturgy, Bishop Chrysostom and the parishioners agreed that the time had come to have divine liturgies twice a month. Services were held at the Polish Hall on January 7, January 20, February 4, and February 18, 1990.
On February 14, 1990, Father Miladin Garich from the Assumption Serbian Orthodox Church in Sacramento advised the Saint Sava Executive Board that the Assumption Executive Board approved the donation to Saint Sava of the iconastis previously used in the Sacramento church. Steve Jaksich traveled to Sacramento by train in March, 1990, rented a U-Haul truck, and transported the iconastis back to Seattle where it was stored pending the purchase of church property. The Assumption Church also donated candle holders. The Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix Arizona also helped the cause when it donated two staffs and a cross to be placed in back of the altar table.
Saint Sava continued to have bi-monthly services at the Polish Hall through September, 1990. On every other Sunday at 8 a.m., a small group of parishioners would set up altar tables, candle tables, icons, and chairs to transform a dance hall into a place for Orthodox worship.
Following each service, the parishioners would have a potluck luncheon and transform the church back into a hall. It was quite a challenge. Father Vasilije Cvijanovic made numerous trips to Seattle during 1989 and 1990 and his continuous sacrifices were appreciated by the Saint Sava faithful. Other priests who assisted Saint Sava with liturgies include: Miroslav Dejanov, Peter Jovanovic, Miroslav Markovic, Milan Sturgis and Rade Wimbish,. The small group of Saint Sava believers paid for all expenses associated with the services including hall rental, religious items, air-fare and honorarium for visiting priests.
In the summer of 1990, the members of Saint Sava decided to retain a parish priest. In September, 1990, Father Mateja Matejic agreed to serve each Sunday on a temporary basis. Father Matejic’s first liturgy was on October 7, 1990, in the Polish Hall. Father Matejic brought to Seattle an abundance of experience in starting new parishes. Father Matejic was instrumental in building Serbian Orthodox churches in Monroe, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio.
In a relatively short period of time, Father Matejic demonstrated to the Seattle faithful that it was critical to take immediate steps to build or purchase a Church. In November, 1990, Father Matejic gave an inspiring sermon about the biblical tale involving Jesus and Simon Peter. Father Matejic explained that Jesus demanded that Simon Peter return to the lake to make another attempt at catching fish and to have faith. Father Matejic said that the time had come for the Seattle faithful to move away from the shore and to have faith that they could fulfill their dreams of building a Church. Father Matejic convinced the parishioners that they should begin a search for Church property.
On November 18, 1990, Bishop Chrysostom served a hierarchical divine liturgy at the Polish Hall. Following liturgy, Bishop Chrysostom announced that he would be appointing a new priest to serve Saint Sava beginning in December. Following services, a formal building fund was established and George Yankovich was appointed chairman of the building fund. Pledges were received from a number of parishioners.
On November 23, 1990, Bishop Chrysostom appointed the Reverend Hieromonk Father Lavrentije Janjic of Teslic, Yugoslavia, to serve as parish priest of Saint Sava.
On November 25, 1990, Saint Sava moved its services to the Garden Club at 2336 15th Avenue South. Father Mateja continued to serve until December 7, 1990, when Father Janjic officially took over the duties of parish priest.
Father Janjic continued the work begun by Father Matejic. For the very first time in its history, Saint Sava had their own parish priest to serve on Sundays, bless homes, and serve at Slavas, funerals, weddings, and baptisms. Father Janjic served Saint Sava at the Garden Club but continuously expressed his belief that the Serbian community in Seattle was capable of maintaining and supporting a Serbian Orthodox Church.
A building committee was appointed to find suitable properties for Saint Sava in the Seattle area. Unfortunately, the high cost of property in the Seattle area made the search extremely difficult. Members of the Executive Board spent hundreds of hours searching for church property without success.
On March 18, 1991, Saint Sava was advised by Father Dusan Koprovica of the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Butte, Montana, that Holy Trinity decided to loan its Plascenica to Saint Sava until Saint Sava could purchase its own. Holy Trinity also donated altar robes and candle holders to Saint Sava.
In August, 1991, members of the Executive Board located a two acre parcel of land in Issaquah, Washington. The property is located twenty miles east of downtown Seattle. There was a four-bedroom home located on the property and a building which had been utilized as a church and office. The church building consisted of two floors and approximately 5,600 square feet.
A parish picnic was scheduled at the Issaquah site for Sunday, September 22, 1991. A barbecued lamb lunch (prepared by Ljobomir Mladenovic) was served and the Saint Sava parishioners had an opportunity to view the property. There were numerous concerns because the building would need substantial renovation in order to serve as an Orthodox church. The sanctuary area had been converted into several offices. The downstairs hall was also in need of substantial improvements because it was divided into several small rooms and had a concrete floor.
A special Parish meeting was scheduled for October 6, 1991, to discuss the proposed purchase. Following a spirited discussion, the members of Saint Sava overwhelmingly voted to proceed with the purchase if the required down payment of $75,000.00 could be raised.
As of October 13, 1991, Saint Sava had raised nearly $60,000.00. The donations were received from our brothers and sisters across the United States and from many Seattle families. Unfortunately, the Parish needed an additional $15,000.00 to achieve its goal. Following divine liturgy on October 13, an anonymous member of Saint Sava promised to make up the shortfall and arrangements were made to move to Issaquah.
Closing documents for the Issaquah property were signed on November 19, 1991. Members of Saint Sava took immediate action to prepare the sanctuary area for services. A work crew painted the upstairs and removed several walls in the sanctuary area and erected the iconastis which was donated by the Assumption Serbian Orthodox Church in Sacramento, California.
The first divine liturgy in Saint Sava’s new home was on December 1, 1991. A bookstore was subsequently established where the faithful could purchase religious books, icons, crosses, music and Serbian cultural items. The bookstore has been extremely successful.
The Bylaws previously adopted by Saint Sava were approved by Bishop Chrysostom on March 27, 1992.
During 1992, numerous improvements were made to the sanctuary area. All of the improvements were made possible by donations from individual parishioners. The improvements included: a new altar platform, carpeting, paint, a remodeled nursery and Sunday School rooms. Steve and Debbie Jaksich also took charge of refinishing the iconastis and paid for the reframing of the icons on the iconastis. Parishioners also donated additional items to make the church complete including: an altar table and cloth, chairs, tables, vigil lamps, candle tables, gospel, icon stands, wedding crowns and icons. The pre-existing Circle of Serbian Sisters (K.S.S.) also donated a beautiful chandelier.
A one-year anniversary celebration was held in rememberance of the purchase of the property on November 15, 2002 with a divine liturgy, banquet and dance.
In late 1992 and early 1993, Saint Sava remodeled the downstairs hall area. The project was complicated by the fact that the hall was divided by a large supporting wall. In order to remove the wall, a special steel beam would need to be installed at a cost in excess of $5,000. The project also included covering the concrete floor with linoleum, the cost of which would also exceed $5,000. Two brothers from the Saint Sava parish, “Uncle” Lu and Demitre Petrovich, paid for the renovation of the hall.
The downstairs hall area was completed in 1993 with painting, floor trim, rest room renovation, electrical work, and the construction of a bar area by Steve Jaksich. The members also painted the exterior of the church with paint donated by a parishioner and had new gutters installed on the church and home. Two large crosses made and donated by a member of Saint Sava were also installed on the church roof.
The members of Saint Sava also donated their time and money to remodel the home. The renovation included new doors, paint, heater, shower and carpet.
Eleni Schumacher and family donated their time to maintain the grounds and landscaping as well as organized a tree planting program and numerous members donated money to plant trees.
The original purchase documents for the Issaquah property required Saint Sava to refinance the seller-financed loan within two years. Saint Sava had a difficult time procuring financing but on October 14, 1993, Saint Sava refinanced the loan with Issaquah Bank and prevailed.
During the early part of 1993, an aunt of a Eleni Schumacher, Dr. Mary Kamberoe, pledged $10,000 to purchase a new epitaphios, plascenica, and other altar items. Subsequently, many members from Saint Sava donated an additional $4,000 to the fund. A beautiful new epitaphios and plascenica was purchased and used during Holy Week of Pascha in 1994. Excess funds were used to purchase a new communion Chalice set and a new lawnmower. The remaining funds were donated to the Church’s general fund.
Saint Sava also received a large refrigerator in 1993, courtesy of the local Circle of Serbian Sisters (K.S.S.).
In February, 1994, Metropolitan Christopher appointed Father Dane Popovic from Houston, Texas, to replace Father Janjic. Father Popovic began his duties on March 15, 1994. Father Popovic and his family continued the work of the Church. Large numbers of worshippers attend Sunday services and the Sunday School program has experienced dramatic growth.
The members of Saint Sava also started construction of a new barbecue area. The project has been made possible because of donations from the American Serbian Heritage Association of Seattle in the sum of $5,500.00.
On November 12, 1994, the newly enthroned Bishop Jovan visited Seattle. Following a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy and lunch, the Saint Sava youth folklore group performed traditional songs and dances for Bishop Jovan.
At the February 26, 1995 Annual Meeting the membership also decided to begin raising funds to remodel the Church Hall kitchen. A committee including Debbie Jaksich and George Petrovich, among others, was appointed and donations were solicited. With the assistance of significant donations from our parishioners and substantial volunteer labor, we accomplished our goal and completed a remodel of the kitchen.
The Consecration of our Church was the most important event of our Church’s history and took place on July 21, 22, and 23, 1995. Our consecration committee, which included Mike Jankovich and Georgiana Gavrilovich, among others, and many other volunteer workers donated thousands of hours of volunteer labor to make our Consecration a special event. The Kumovi for our Consecration were Ljubomir Petrovich and George Yankovich. Our Bishop Jovan was the celebrant Bishop and Bishop Giorgije of Canada also assisted. Visiting priests included Father Miroslav Dejanov, Father Miladin Garic, Father Petar Jovanovich, Father Nicholas Soraich and Father Anthony Tomaras.
The S.S. Bishop Lastavica choir from Schererville, Indiana, was the guest choir and sung all responses at church services. Jedintsvo, a traditional tambura orchestra from Phoenix, Arizona, provided excellent musical entertainment.
The weekend’s festivities began on Friday with a Vesper’s service in which the relics were presented for placement in the altar table. Following the religious ceremony, a special dinner/dance at our Church was held which featured barbecued salmon and pasta. On Saturday, evening we had a second Vespers service which was followed by a formal banquet at Kennedy High School. Our brother, Mike Karlica, of Vancouver, British Columbia, served a delicious dinner of pork, chicken and beef. A special program was presented including speeches from our Bishop Jovan, Father Dane, Father Nicholas Soraich, and Robert Stone, the president of the Serbian National Federation. Our visiting choir also gave a concert and we saw our Sunday School dance group give an excellent performance. After the program and dinner, our guests danced and sang long into the evening.
On Sunday we witnessed a beautiful consecration service officiated by Bishop Jovan and Bishop Giorgije. During services Father Dane received the special honor of being elevated to the rank of Protojerea. Nikolai Jankovich and Steve Pribic were also blessed as „readers“. The Church Board, Church School Congregation and the Jankovich family were also presented with Gramatis from Bishop Jovan. We will never forget the closeness and brotherly love that we all experienced on this special day. Following the consecration service, we enjoyed a special barbecued lamb lunch organized by Mirko and Cheryl Spasojevic.
The planning for the Consecration began in January. Many parishioners expended considerable time and energy to plan and work at our Consecration weekend. The committees and chairpersons were: Ad Book – Georgiana Gavrilovich and Debbie Jaksich; Transportation and Lodging – Debbie Jaksich; Ticket Sales – Eleni Schumacher and Judy Petrovich; Set Up – Bob Schumacher and Pete Laketa; Cleanup – Sreten Nesic; Meals – Mike and Cathy Jankovich; Bar – George Yankovich, Anne Preston and Peter Antovich. Helen Penovich, Stella Milenkovich and Bosiljka Dalilchek also donated special t-shirts to sell during the weekend.
In September, 1995, we had a special cevapcici luncheon to raise funds for our suffering brothers and sisters in Bosnia and Krajna.
On November 25, 1995, we had a special Vespers service and dinner/dance to celebrate the four-year anniversary of purchase of Saint Sava Church property; nine-year anniversary of formation of Saint Sava; eight-year anniversary of arrival of Father Dane and Popadija Milica into the United States; and fifteen-year anniversary of ordination of Father Dane. Following a Vesper service, we had a cevapcici and mousaka dinner.
Through 1996 to 2001 the St. Sava parish continued to work at building a stronger Serbian community, both in the Northwest and abroad. Members of the congregation joined in protests in downtown Seattle against the war in Bosnia and the tragic bombings in Kosovo. The church rectory was converted into a rental home. Many parishioners continued to support their church with help in areas of maintenance and financial support. In August 1999, the church exterior was painted, and Bronko Cekarmis painted a new welcome sign for the church property. During this continued growth for St. Sava, stewardship tripled.
In the late nineties, the beginnings of the first official Building Committee was formed. Lead by Vojislav Kokeza, the committee began search for new land so that the Serbian community could begin work on creating a new church and hall that would benefit the Serbian Orthodox people in the Northwest for decades to come. By late 2002, the committee was reformed under the auspices of Anne Preston, and the faithful members of this new Building Committee have reaffirmed the need for new land and progress for our church
In August 2002, Father Ilija Balach was appointed by Bishop Jovan as the new priest of our church. Father Ilija served his first divine liturgy on September 8, 2002.
Our Church paid off its mortgage a year ahead of schedule and celebrated the event at its annual Serbian Days luncheon/dance on July 20, 2003. The mortgage was burned in the presence of over two-hundred happy parishioners by Father Ilija Balach, president Mary Jane Vujovic, past presidents Mike Jankovich, Vjera Melton, and Sreten Nesic, and members of the current Executive Board (Cathy Jankovich, Pete Lalic, Cedo Marusic, William Nickinovich, Judy Petrovich, Radoje Spasojevic and Dinka Vujovic). Special thanks were given to our former priest, Father Dane Popovic, for all of his work to make the paying off of our mortgage a reality.
The burning of our mortgage was a very important day for Saint Sava because many parishioners have labored long and hard and have overcome significant obstacles. We are extremely thankful for those that have given their time, money and labor over the last eighteen years. Even though we recognized that we have reached an important milestone in our history, we also recognized that the time has come to plan for the future and to acquire additional property so that we can build a traditional Serbian Orthodox Church to serve the needs of all Serbian Orthodox Christians in the state of Washington and other Orthodox Christians that currently attend our Church and others that will attend in the future.
Beginning in November 2003, the Executive Board, at the behest of Father Ilija Balach and Dan Cekarmis, realized the need for improvements to the church nave. Led by Dan Cekarmis, many members including Fr. Ilija Balach, Bronko Cekarmis, Radomir Jasika, Pete Laketa, Pete Lalich, Cedo Marusic, Gary Melton, Sreten Nesic, Drasko Raco, Jovo Raco, Milan Radic and Milan Vincic, began what would be a two month process of creating new steps to the altar and creating a choir alcove. Thanks to food and drink from Popadija Carole Balach, Pete Lalic and Rada Marusic, and the clean-up help from members of the Drina Folklore dance group, the men went about the work quickly and effortlessly. As a surprise bonus to the church, Dan and Bronko Cekarmis and Cedo Marusic painted the interior of the nave.
In February 2004 the congregation was called upon again to help repair the church property. In this instance, the church rental home was in need of work. Led once again by Dan Cekarmis, members Bronko Cekarmis, Dragoljub Grujic, Radomir Jasika, Vojislav Kokeza, Cedo Marusic, Gary Melton, Sreten Nesic, Drasko Raco, Jovo Raco, Milan Radic, Vladimir Radojevic, Mile Stevanovic, Milan Vincic and Nenad Vujic, repaired an exterior wall, replaced a deteriorated deck with a new deck, painted the interior, replaced the carpet and tiled the bathroom and kitchen. With thanks to Cedo Marusic, Gordana Cekarmis and Vjera Melton, the men were well fed and the home cleaned so that the project could be completed.
Since then, the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church has maintained a healthy spirit and strong community. Thanks in large part to Father Ilija and Popadija Carole Balach, the Sunday School and Bible Study programs have been successful. The church choir has been dedicated to bringing the best of themselves to Sunday divine liturgies, practicing weekly. A soccer team was created to represent our church, and they’ve already walked away with several victories. Most importantly, the Drina Folklore Group, headed by Aleksandra and Vesna Radojevic, have injected a new sense of culture into our church and our youth. The dance group has been requested at many historical events, including the 100th Anniversary of the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Butte, Montana. The group has been a regular at Slavic Fest held each year at the University of Washington, and are regularly asked to dances and celebrations in the Northwest.
May God grant us wisdom and the faith to continue His good works. May He bless us all.
Compiled by Mike Jankovich
Edits and additions by the 10th Anniversary of the Consecration Committee
Due to the long history of Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, some historical events and those involved may have been inadvertently left out. The 10th Anniversary of the Consecration Committee regrets any errors or lack of inclusions that may offend a deserving member of our congregation, past or present.
Celebration of Burning the Mortgage
Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Issaquah, Washington paid off the mortgage on its property and celebrated the event at its annual Serbian Day luncheon/dance on July 20, 2003. The mortgage was burned in the presence of over 200 happy parishioners by Father Ilija Balach, president Mary Jane Vujovic, past presidents Mike Jankovich, Vjera Melton, and Sreten Nesic, and members of the current Executive Board (Cathy Jankovich, Pete Lalic, Cedo Marusic, Judy Petrovich, Radoje Spasojevic and Dinka Vujovic). Past presidents Debbie Jaksich and Eleni Schumacher and Board member William Nickinovich were unable to attend. Father Ilija, Mike Jankovich, and Cedo Marusic addressed the enthusiastic crowd.
The burning of the mortgage was a significant day in the history of our Church, which was founded by the late Bishop Sava, Father Nicholas Soraich (currently Bishop Nikolai), and 25 Serbian Orthodox Christians in the home of a parishioner on December 16, 1986. Saint Sava celebrated its first divine liturgy on January 24, 1987 at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and continued to have Saturday divine liturgies at local Orthodox Churches on a monthly or bi-monthly basis through the summer of 1989.
In late 1989 Saint Sava Church began having Sunday services twice a month in local social halls. On those days at 8 a.m., parishioners would set up altar tables, candle tables, icons, and chairs to transform a dance hall into a place for Orthodox worship.
In the fall of 1990, the Very Reverend Mateja Matejic starting serving regularly on a temporary basis. Father Matejic brought to Seattle an abundance of experience in establishing new parishes. In a relatively short period of time, Father Matejic demonstrated to the Seattle faithful that it was critical to take immediate steps to build or purchase a church property. In November of 1990, Father Matejic gave an inspiring sermon based on the Gospel reading involving Jesus and St. Peter the Apostle. Father Matejic explained that Jesus demanded that St. Peter have faith and return to the lake to make another attempt at catching fish. Father Matejic said that the time had come for the Seattle faithful to move away from the shore and to have faith that they could fulfill their dreams of building a Church or purchasing an existing Church. After planting the seeds for our new Church, Father Matejic returned to his home in Ohio and was replaced by Father Lavrentije Janjic.
On November 19, 1991, Saint Sava closed the purchase of a two acre parcel of land in Issaquah, Washington. There was a four bedroom rectory located on the property and a 2-story building which had been utilized as a Church and office. We remodeled the upstairs as a place for Orthodox worship and remodeled the downstairs portion that we have utilized for our fellowship hall.
The terms of sale required a down payment in the amount of $75,000. As of October 13, 1991, Saint Sava Church had raised nearly $60,000. The donations were received from our brothers and sisters across the United States and from 38 Seattle families. Unfortunately, our Church needed an additional $15,000 to achieve its goal. Following liturgy on October 13, 1991, a member of Saint Sava promised to make up the shortfall and arrangements were made to move to Issaquah. We celebrated our first divine liturgy at our new Church on December 1, 1991.
In February, 1994, Father Dane Popovic became our priest and he worked diligently to convince our parishioners that the time had come to raise the funds necessary to pay off our mortgage.
Saint Sava Church is very appreciative of all of the hard work, sacrifice and prayers of the priests who have served our Church. The pioneers of this parish sacrificed much to make our parish a reality since a number of them were members of established parishes. Despite having all of the comforts of an established parish, many followed God’s calling to start a new Church with occasional services in rented halls. Over the years new parishioners, locally as well as from overseas, have joined our parish increasing our attendance and playing an important role in paying off our mortgage and planning for the future.
The burning of our mortgage was a very important day for Saint Sava because many parishioners have labored long and hard overcoming significant obstacles. We are extremely thankful for those who have given their time, money and labor over the last 17 years. Even though we recognize that we have reached an important milestone in our history, we also recognize that the time has come to plan for the future and acquire additional property so that we can build a traditional Serbian Orthodox Church to serve the needs of all Serbian Orthodox Christians in the state of Washington, along with other Orthodox Christians who currently attend our Church and will attend in the future.