St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
Grand Junction, Colorado U.S.A.
All Images Courtesy: St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
I know it probably isn't snowing in Grand Junction so early in the season but I just couldn't resist this gorgeous winter shot of this lovely Byzantine-style Orthodox church found on the western slopes of the amazing state of Colorado. After all, aren't pristine snow covered mountainsides and valleys what most of us think of when we think of Colorado?
The church's website's "History Page" opens with this moving statement:
Atop the hill at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Horizon Drive in Grand Junction, Colorado stands Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. The Byzantine-style building was erected in 1991 for congregational worship, but the building represents much more than that. It stands as a visible testament to the faith of an immigrant community that came to Colorado in the early 1900s.
Those first immigrants came from the country of Greece that had recently shed the yoke of Turkish rule, and many were eager to take advantage of their newly-found freedom by coming to America. Sadly, the nearly 400 years of Turkish occupation precluded any educational opportunities for the enslaved Greek people, and also precluded free worship; all learning was by word-of-mouth.
The Greeks who traveled across the Atlantic were therefore without formal education, but they were willing to work hard. One skill they brought with them was raising sheep, work that would provide many of them with a living in Colorado.
This church is a bit different from most churches dedicated to St. Nicholas for the simple reason that it isn't located close to a major body of water. Being the well-known patron saint of sailors this is quite often the case with churches called after St. Nicholas. But the reason for dedicating this lovely church building to St. Nicholas is extremely interesting. It has to do with the fact that those Greeks who settled in Colorado were sheep farmers. Let's see what the website has to say about the name of the church in conjunction with sheep farming:
Saint Nicholas was chosen as the patron saint for the community because his feast day falls in December, a time of year when sheepmen traditionally could be in town for religious observances.
I think that is something that would make the dear old saint very happy!
Our congregation consists of the descendants of immigrants from Greece to western Colorado, but also of others whose ancestors came from various traditionally Orthodox countries. In addition, many parishioners are simply "Americans" -- generally converts from the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations.
"The American Way!"
Now that's an invitation! I have been to Grand Junction before...but next time, I plan to stop in for a visit!
Please visit the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church website for more information about services, etc.