Our Church History
In the boundaries of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese, you will find our holy church “Nativity of the Virgin Mary” in Metropolitan Detroit, located in Sterling Heights, Michigan in the USA.
In Sterling Heights & the entire Metropolitan Detroit area, there is a large population of Macedonian emigrants who began arriving from Macedonia in mass numbers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s for a better life for themselves and their children. Our Macedonian community is one of the largest in North America & the largest in the United States, with unofficial numbers stating that there are some 30,000 Macedonians in the Metropolitan Detroit area. Because there was no Macedonian Orthodox Church in Detroit, the Macedonians attended the Greek, Bulgarian, & Serbian Orthodox Churches in this area for their religious and spiritual needs.
The initiative for the formation of our own Macedonian Orthodox Church existed well before this time, but the influence, pressure, and the Macedonians being relatively new to their new homeland and struggling to integrate and find their path to existence here in the US are the main reasons why our church was not founded earlier. On December 14, 1974 the first church initiative board was formed.
The Founders & Initiative church board of our beloved church are Vlado Pasharikovski – First President (deceased) , Andreja Mitrovich (deceased), Slave Nivicki, Vangel Koleski, Veselin Kirovski, John B. Christoff (deceased) & Dusan Sinadinoski.
On January 14, 1975, the Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Skopje, Macedonia grants a blessing and approval for the beginning and founding of our church. Our church was received under the wing of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, an undivided part under canon and spiritual jurisdiction.
Our church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is named: “Nativity of the Virgin Mary”- the mother and protector of the entire Christian World. On February 3, 1975, our church is registered as a perpetual religious organization in our state capital of Lansing, Michigan.
On May 4, 1975 the first Divine Liturgy is officiated in the Macedonian Language in Metro Detroit from the Reverend Savco Petrov, in the presence of a delegate from the Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Afterwards our church is consecrated from at that time our Administrating Bishop, Metropolitan of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese, Kiril.
On August 9 1975, the first Archiearchal Divine Liturgy is lead by our Diocese Bishop, his Eminence Metropolitan of the American Canadian & Australian Diocese Kiril (Cyril). Afterwards the first marriage ceremony was officiated to the young couple George Kalanovski & Marica Kuzmanovska.
In 1975, property was purchased on 14 Mile Rd just west of Mound Rd in Sterling Heights. There, the garage of the house that is on the property is converted into a mini church for Liturgies, Wedding Ceremonies, & Baptisms. Because at this time we were in the early stages of our church, we did not have a permanent parish priest among us. For the bigger holidays such as Christmas & Easter, we would have a parish priest arrive from our sister churches in the diocese or on a few occasions from Macedonia to lead Divine Liturgy and afterwards they would have to return home.
The Road To Our New Church
The act of evangelizing and dedicating of our old church on Ryan Rd between 8 and 9 Mile Roads in Warren was done on July 20, 1980 in the presence of the entire clergy from the diocese, and a large number of parishioners from Detroit and many parts of the US and Canada where our people live and work.
On September 17, 1992, the dream began for building a new church and fellowship hall and property is purchased on the Northwest corner of 19 Mile & Ryan Rd in Sterling Heights. This initiative is lead with the parish priest Very Rev Dragi Trpeski, the church board, our parishioners and members for the future prosperity of our church. The property consists of 10 acres near the intersection of 19 Mile & Ryan Rd in the heart of Sterling Heights, which is a sister city with Tetovo, Macedonia. Later two additional acres are purchased, totaling 12 acres that consists of our church property.
On September 21, 1995 on our church patron holiday – Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, we invited our Archbishop of the Macedonian Orthodox Church at that time from Macedonia, the now deceased Mihail (Michael) to bless and dedicate our church grounds. On our grounds there was a temporary tent installed that was able to accommodate up to 1000 people, and on this day the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on our new church grounds. On that day there was many parishioners, everyone was happy and willing to donate funds so that they can see the church built as soon as was possible. In that year the plans were finalized for the underground utilities and pipes, along with the infrastructure of our church and fellowship hall. With this being complete we were ready for construction.
In 1997 a decision was made to hire Harold H. Fisher & Associates as the Architecture & Engineering firm for our church and fellowship hall.
In February 1998, a new church board is elected. This particular church board made many renovations and improvements to our old church on Ryan Rd & 8 1/2 Mile in Warren in preparation for the eventual sale of it. A detailed archive is created of every organization, club, associations, church groups & members for all donations and activities made to our church building fund. In this year the architectural plans were finalized, after this all necessary building permits were obtained and on September 22, 1998 we laid the cornerstone and consecration for the construction of our cathedral church. The act of the consecration and the laying of the cornerstone were performed by Metropolitan Kiril of the Polog-Kumanovo Diocese together with Archdeacon Ratomir Grozdanovski and our parish priests, Very Rev. Blagoja Aceski & Very Rev. Dragi Trpeski. It was a joyous and historic day. On that day, we also had a temporary tent installed to accommodate about 2000 parishioners. All the necessary sacred ceremonies were being made on this highly solemn act, the laying of the cornerstone of the new church. Bishop Kiril, the church president, secretary, and the parish priests, signed the Charter. The list containing all church board members was also on the Charter. The Charter was placed in a bottle with holy oil and laid in the foundation of the church in compliance with the habits and customs of the Orthodox Faith. There was a couple thousand of our parishioners present on that day and many of them donated a large amount of money in our church building fund. Special groups of parishioners were the ones who were willing to donate a large amount of funds by purchasing the gold, silver, & bronze shovels, just like the parishioners who wanted to purchase the 5 holy icons of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Mother of God was present on that day amongst us and she blessed the beginning of the construction of our Lords home.
In February 1999, we had our regular annual membership and election meeting. A new church board was elected at this time. Our church and hall were being built at an intensive pace, even though there were problems with pauses and stops in construction, it was still successful and of high quality.
On November 5, 2000, we said goodbye to our old church of 22 years with the final Divine Liturgy performed after and moved into our newly built church hall. Because our new church was still far from being complete, we used our church hall for liturgy, wedding ceremonies, baptisms, and other religious needs. On March 17 2002, the first Divine Liturgy was observed in our new church. On September 21 2002, His Beatitude Stefan (Stephen) Archbisop of Ohrid and Macedonia together with Metropolitan of the Polog- Kumanovo Diocese, Kiril did the final act for consecration and the crowning of the new church along with all parish priests in the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese. What made this historic day even more special was all the priests that served our church at one time were present. Our Bishop for the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese is His Eminence, Metropolitan Metodij, our current parish priests who serve our church are Very Rev. Arch Priest Sinisa Ristovski & Rev Dragan Jordanov.
Our Beloved Church Groups
Within our church, we have a few church groups. They are the Women’s Auxiliary, which is formed with the beginning of our church, the folklore dance group Tanec, Church Choir, Pensioners Club & MOYANA Youth Group. These groups organize a variety of activities where the culture of Macedonia is presented and preserved. With the Blessing of his Eminence Metropolitan Metodij, religious classes are now taught every Friday at 8PM by Father Sinisa in our church. All activities are observed in the spirit of the Holy Orthodox Church, blessed by his Eminence Bishop Metodij of our American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese.