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Prophet Elijah Mission, Ellensburg, Palm Sunday 2016
KVOCM meeting in Cle Elum, 2004
Originally meeting in a house in Cle Elum beginning in 2004, what was then known as the Kittitas Valley Orthodox Christian Mission was begun under the guidance of Fr. Joseph Copeland from Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima. There were about 12-15 local members and in that location, Arsenios (George) Blaisdell and Basil (Bill) Hinkle were tonsured as the mission's first readers.
To be closer to a larger population base, including Central Washington University, the mission moved to Ellensburg in 2008, meeting at Farrell House located on the corner of 5th and Water St. near downtown. Because Holy Cross had three priests at the time, Divine Liturgy began to be served at our mission weekly on Sundays, with the priests coming to Ellensburg in turns. Fr. Joseph also held a catechism class on Tuesday evenings. For feast days and special events, such as Holy Week, Pascha and Nativity, members would have to travel to Yakima. At the Water street location, KVOCM grew to about 30 members.
In August 2010, the mission moved to its current location on Dennis Street thanks to the assistance of Rdr Arsenios, who purchased the house as his residence and allowed the church to use the building and property for ecclesiastical purposes. Remodel plans were initiated to convert the ranch-style house to a parish church. Eventually, the garage would become the future nave, with the altar and a narthex being added on to that. In the meantime, the congregation met in what was the house's living room with the dining room serving as both overflow space and the trapeza. Meeting in this fashion continued for nearly six years.
Approximately a year after moving onto the Dennis Street property, Fr. Paul Moses Jaroslaw was assigned to the growing mission as the parish priest and moved to Ellensburg from Homer, Alaska, with his wife, Khouria Thekla, and their daughter, Maria. Some members from the church in Homer also moved to Ellensburg at the same time and one of the families that joined the mission was that of Rdr. Michael Smith, who stepped into the role of head reader. With the arrival of the Alaskans, and a few more baptisms, there were soon about 50 members of the parish.
About a year later, Rdr Basil was tonsured as a sub deacon to serve the parish in that capacity. The mission was also given its patron saint, the Holy Prophet Elijah, by then-Archbishop JOSEPH (now Metropolitan JOSEPH) and officially became Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission. Three years later, during an ordination service at Holy Cross during Lent 2015, Sub Dn Basil became the parish's first deacon. New members continued to be added through baptism as time went on.
With Father Paul's vision leading the way, the building plans progressed, albeit a bit slowly as the work was done as the money came in. The framing was begun, the roof was installed, flooring went in, walls were prepared and eventually, the icons were hung. Finish work continued as well. After a year or so of thinking they'd certainly be in by the next big feast, the first services in the new church finally took place the weekend of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday 2016 (even though there were still a few things left to do). With great joy, Holy Pascha was celebrated in the beautiful building a week later.
In August of that year, Prophet Elijah Mission sent its first novice to St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery in Goldendale. A few months later, on Christmas Eve morning, they had their first large group baptism when 12 catechumens were received into the Holy Orthodox Church at one time. As of January 2017, there are approximately 85 communicants who call the Prophet Elijah Mission their home parish. This includes the majority of those who started the mission up in Cle Elum 13 years prior.
In the summer of 2017, the church was added to the property deed and became a rightful owner of the Dennis St. property. The parish remains strong in its purpose to further continue the process of establishing Holy Orthodoxy in Ellensburg ~ all to the glory of God.