Manville, NJ - Every Sunday morning for the past 99 years, a Divine Liturgy is celebrated at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Manville, with church bells ringing, a choir singing and the faithful gathering in prayer. Services are also held on many days throughout the week with the same joyful solemnity of the Orthodox Christian faith. On Sunday, November 8th, Ss. Peter and Paul invites the community to join in their 99th Anniversary and International Food Festival.
Step inside the small church and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world. Detailed iconography fills every space on the ceiling and walls. Stained glass windows filter the sunshine through the colorful images of saints and scripture. Beeswax candles burn, incense drifts on the air and the tones of prayers that are always sung or chanted greet the ears. It is an immersion of all senses into an ancient faith.
In 1915, a small group of worshippers rented a building in a lumber yard on North Main Street. With just the bare necessities, the parishioners, many of whom came to Manville to work at the Johns Manville Corporation, built a strong bond. Their ethnic backgrounds were mostly from Russia, the Ukraine, and other Eastern bloc countries. In 1916, the parish purchased the property where the church sits today, constructing an 18’x37’ wooden chapel. This structure was destroyed by fire in 1922, was rebuilt, and again destroyed by fire in 1935. The current building was then constructed and it has been the church’s home ever since.
In years past, the tight knit community was composed of large extended families that would pray together and then return home on Sunday to enjoy large dinners and fellowship. Today, the families are smaller and more ethnically diverse, but the parish gathers after the Divine Liturgy to enjoy a hearty coffee hour together, serving for many as the new extended family. The language of the services has changed over the years from Church Slavonic to English, following the prescription of St. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, who taught that services should be conducted in a country’s language. This change opened the door to people from all over the world to worship together.
The church family has weathered both good times and bad together. When floods and tragedy struck the town and some parishioners suffered significant losses, others helped. Years ago, when a new family was brought to the church, having sought political asylum in America after fleeing the oppression of Romanian authority, the parish of Ss. Peter and Paul welcomed them with all the help that they would need to start a new life. They were assisted in finding jobs, a home, a car, clothing, money and most importantly, the support of a large parish family.
Ss. Peter and Paul is celebrating its 99th Anniversary on Sunday, November 9th. Bishop Michael, of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America will serve with Fr. James Parsells to offer an Akathist Service at 2pm. All are invited to join the parish for a special blessing and anointing with Holy Oil (for healing, well-being, peace and all other needs). Afterwards, an International Food Festival will take place from 3pm – 6pm at the VFW Hall across the street (Washington Avenue). Foods from many of the countries represented in the church today will be served, including, Russian, Polish, Georgian, Romanian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Italian and Spanish. Information to purchase tickets could be found on the church’s website, www.ssppoc.org.
Jill Peterson, Chairperson for the 99th Anniversary Celebration
Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church
605 Washington Avenue
Manville, NJ 08835
www.ssppoc.orgChurch Phone: (908) 685-1452
The Church is open for all services. All are welcome!
As of May 28, 2021 the restrictive regulations on social distancing and the wearing of masks in the church building and church social center have been removed. There is no longer any Registrations for any services.
Parishioners and friends of the parish are asked to join the parish mailing for up-dates and changes in the schedule. Every Friday, "Parish Notations" are mailed to those on the list with up-dates, the schedule for the next week and information about our parish life and activities. We cannot sign you up to the Parish E-Mail List, you must do it yourself. Scroll down for signing-up.