Saints Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church - Boswell, PA
308 Quemahoning Street - Boswell, PA 15531
The present Orthodox Church of Ss. Peter & Paul was built by Slavic immigrants in 1915. Largely the result of a boom in the Bituminous (Soft) Coal industry, this parish began as early as 1913, with approximately 250 faithful worshipping in a temporary facility and generating an average income of $700.00 per month. With the rapid escalation of the mining industry it was decided to expand. In 1914 Archbishop Alexander (Nemolovsky) visited with the congregation to determine their progress and bless the plan for expansion.
By 1915, the church had grown to approximately 400 members, and the present edifice was completed. The Rev. Joseph Shakaley, with the assistance of contractor Benjamin Gindlesperger, laid the cornerstone in May 1915. The two-story, 32’x 65’ red brick building was completed at cost of $9,000.00, attesting to the dedication of these relatively poor miners.
Clergy of the local area assisted Archbishop Evdokim (newly arrived from Russia) consecrating the temple in 1915, and another period rapid expansion ensued. A church school was organized in the basement, with two days out of every six dedicated to music instruction. A beautiful, rural cemetery was purchased two miles from Boswell, and is still handsomely maintained. The future seemed bright. Only the devastation and economic stagnation caused by the Great Depression could slow the growth of the parish.
Gradually, the congregation began to shrink, as adult miners looked elsewhere for work. With the decline of the mines in the Boswell area, families moved to larger cities. No longer able to support a resident pastor, the church sold the adjacent parish house to a parishioner in the 1930’s.
Following the Second World War, the exodus of parishioners ceased. Still a strong, albeit small, congregation, the Church continued its regular Liturgical life. Served as a mission parish of the larger St. Mary’s in Central City, services were consistently conducted for the faithful—first in Slavonic, now almost entirely in English, but always according to the Julian Calendar.
The most trying event of recent years occurred on 20 October 1998, when a Sunday afternoon fire destroyed the interior of the temple. A candle, thought to be extinguished, lit the iconostas on fire. Under the leadership of the longtime pastor, the Very Rev. Archpriest John Govrusik, the interior was remodeled and reconsecrated, the new iconography being completed by Very Rev. Mark Meholick, a priest of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh.
Truly the faithful of Boswell and the surrounding area enjoy a temple rich in worship history and locally significant. In 2012, with the retirement of Fr. Govrusik, a new pastor, Fr. Elijah Bremer, was appointed to lead the flock in Somerset County. With an eye toward the future, and a renewed community interest in the church, a renovation and reclamation project is underway.
As they progress toward their 100th anniversary, Ss. Peter & Paul Parish will continue to bring Christ and His church to all those seeking salvation!
Schedule of Services
Generally speaking, services alternate between Liturgy (celebrated on the last Sunday of the month during odd numbered months) and Pro-Liturgy (celebrated on second-to-last Sunday of the month during even numbered months). Due to Father Elijah’s irregular schedule, visitors are asked to call him at 814-977-7397 for the exact date and time of services. All services are in English with a limited use of Old Slavonic for Holy Days.