History of Holy Trinity
The seeds of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church were first planted on August 16, 1916. Under the guidance of Rev Constantine Buketoff, Holy Trinity began to be organized as a worshipping community of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Faith. A two-story building was purchased at 226 Valley St and was converted to a house of worship and rectory for its first pastor, Rev Joseph Kurila.
Although many changes followed in the years ahead, one constant remained; a vision for a permanent church in which to glorify God. During the pastorate of Very Rev Prokopy Radiuk, the Holy Trinity Community purchased a parcel of land in November 1948 on the corner of Valley St and Mansfield Ave. This is the site, 414 Valley St, of the current church. Ten years later, the church was ready to be consecrated.
On September 7, 1958, the final Divine Liturgy was held at 226 Valley St. At the completion of the Liturgy, many sacred items such as the Gospel, Icons, and Crosses were carried in a solemn procession, led by Archpriest Ilja Adamov, to the new Church. Six days later, on September 13, 1958, Holy Trinity as it is known today was consecrated by His Eminence, Metropolitan LEONTY. Fr Ilja remains the priest most easily identified with Holy Trinity. He served the parish as rector on two separate occasions: 1956-1971 and 1973-1981. The Fr Ilja Adamov Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in his memory in 2002.
The very beginnings of Holy Trinity can be traced back to the beginning of Orthodox Christianity in North America. A group of eight monks from the Valaam Monastery in Finland arrived in Kodiak, AK in September 1794. Among that group of eight men was a monk, Fr Herman, later canonized as the first Saint by the Orthodox Church in America (August 1970). In the early 1900s, as more first-generation Orthodox Christians began to leave their home countries and migrated to America, Orthodox churches became closely linked to churches in mother lands. To this day, Orthodox Christians are more easily--and at times, unfairly--identified by their cultural heritage, rather than their apostolic roots, and the church which wrote the New Testament.
A relationship with the Orthodox Christian students at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT has been a wonderful blessing to the Holy Trinity community over the past several years. This has allowed the students to remain connected to the Orthodox Faith during their college years while providing the parish with a resource for church school teachers, choir directors, Epistle readers and signers. Questions regarding the OCF can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
However, in 1970, with the vision and need for a more unified Orthodox Church in America increasingly apparent, the "Russian Church" in the United States received its autocephaly (independence) and became an independent and self-governing American Orthodox Church. It has been known as the Orthodox Church in America for over three decades. These churches are filled with Orthodox Christians of all diverse backgrounds and converts to the Orthodox faith. Worship services are served and sung exclusively in English. It has been the embracing of the English language which has allowed Orthodox Christians to become more unified and experience the growth throughout North America that it has.
The community itself has changed and added new members in recent years. Several families have joined the parish, and combined with the UCONN students, Holy Trinity has taken on an image of a young community. Because of its close proximity to Storrs, and Eastern Connecticut State University located only three blocks from the church, we host many visitors throughout the year. In addition to continually building up the spiritual life of its parishioners, the church community itself is committed to maintaining the physical upkeep of the church as well.
Holy Trinity has always seen the need to reach out and embrace Orthodox Christians of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds; in short, to be apostles. There truly is no church, no witness and no mission unless all its members are of a missionary mind. This is essential to the further growth of Orthodoxy in North America. To see oneself as someone who is called from God to share of their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and witness to the Kingdom of God to come, is truly what it is to be Orthodox. It was a similar missionary spirit which brought Orthodoxy to North America 207 years ago, and it is that same zeal which allows Orthodox churches -- and Holy Trinity in Willimantic -- to experience the spiritual growth it does today. The Orthodox Church in America has canonized many saints since August 1970, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future. It is the direct result of these humble men and women hearing the word of God and keeping it -- the true sign of holiness (Luke 11:28)--that we are permitted the wonderful possibility ot worshipping at Holy Trinity since 1916. May God keep our humble parish in his everlasting love; and continue to bless and be merciful unto all of us.