Brief History Of The Church.
With the fall of the Soviet Union in
the late 1980's, the Iron Curtain was opened wide; leaving Slavic Evangelical
Christians with the long awaited freedoms that they had been praying for. From
all corners of the former Soviet Union, people took advantage of these
God-given freedoms. Like a great wave, they immigrated to The United States of
America and other countries. The first Slavic churches began to appear in
varies cities of the United States. This is where our church, The Slavic Pentecostal
Church of Rochester New York, finds its beginnings.
The Slavic Pentecostal Church of Rochester was formed in the early parts of
1990. About six months after their arrival, the first families began to gather
for services. They were able to worship in their native language in the church foyer
of the Greece Assembly of God, thanks to Pastor Carl Touchstone and his
At this time the deacon of the early church was Sergei Levchuk. On June 7th
1990, the family Kasap arrived to the city of Rochester. Brother Gregory Kasap
began his ministry in the church immediately. On July 6, 1997 both Brother
Gregory Kasap and Brother Sergei Levchuk, were ordained for the pastoral
ministry. This important and joyous occasion was attended by many friends
including Bishop Adam Bondaruk from Sacramento, Bishop Nikolai Kotyakov from
Ukraine, and Missionary Dmitry Bezpalov from Canada.
As years passed, new families from the former Soviet Union were arriving into
Rochester. Church membership continued to grow and before long, the need arose
for a new house of prayer. Pastor Gregory Kasap diligently began seeking land
on which a building could be constructed. On February 5th, 1999 the church acquired
97 acres of land for $150,000 in the town of Parma/Spencerport. On September
17, 1999 the first worship service was held on the grounds under the open sky.
Then in May 2000, the first stages of construction began as the land was
cleared and the plans were laid for the foundation. The head of the
construction efforts were Alex Odiychuk, Alex Levchuk, and Sergei Odiychuk. The
beautiful interior woodwork was the result of Nicholas Dralyuk’s talents. Many
other brothers made great sacrifices for God as this project progressed.
On September 24, 2000 the first church gathering was held in the building, yet construction was still continuing. Then on November 21st of that year, (with the immense help of Pastor Carl Touchstone who took care of the legalities of the project) the church obtained permission from the authorities to officially hold services in the House of Prayer.
Then on November 24, 2001 came the long-awaited grand opening. At ten in the morning all one thousand seats were filled with people. Many guests and speakers were invited to the solemn dedication service. They came from Canada, Estonia, and from many different States. Senior Pastor Gregory Kasap's sermon led everyone to the most important point of the event, the dedication prayer. Together with the people and ministers, a prayer was lifted up to the Almighty God, asking that His presence and grace would fill the place of worship. Those that offered up prayer were Bishop Maryan Sulima, Missionary Dmitry Bezpalov, Pastor Sergei Levchuk, and Senior Pastor Gregory Kasap who prayed in its closing. During the prayer the grace of God filled the hearts of the people and everyone gave thanks for His great love towards His children. Ending the ceremony, Senior Pastor Gregory Kasap expressed sincere gratitude for all of those who financially, physically, mentally, and prayerfully supported this work. Recognition was given to the engineer, builders, Pastor Carl Touchstone, and Pastor Carl Touchstone's wife. This date will go down in history, as a great day of celebration for the Slavic Believers in the City of Rochester.
Today the church has over eight
hundred members with many different active ministries. These include adult,
youth, and children’s choirs; children’s Sunday school; Russian/Ukrainian language
classes; Bible studies; pre-youth recreational events; and various courses and
programs for the youth. The church also publishes a magazine titled "Евангельское
Слово” (Evengelical Word). The church continues to grow each year as 30-40 young men and women devote their lives
to serve God through the act of holy water baptism.
The history of The Slavic
Evengelical church brings to mind a verse of scripture found in Ephesians 2:13.
This passage states, "But
now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the
blood of Christ”. Indeed, the gathering of souls from all corners of the former
Soviet Union: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and the Baltic countries; we
were once far off and distant, but have been brought together, in the unity of
worship, by the blood of Christ. Today we are all together as members of one
church, which is a symbol of the body of Christ. We are bound by a common
purpose: to worship the Lord, to do His will, and to preach the good news of
salvation to the entire world.