Our History

The Sts. Peter and Paul Macedonian Orthodox Church in Indiana is significant for being the first consecrated Macedonian church on the North American continent.

As for the prehistory of the Macedonian immigrant communities in the United States, it dates back to the first half of the 19th century, when many Macedonians, following the example of other nations, came to work in the "Land of Opportunity". For Macedonians, as hardworking people, the industrial cities were especially attractive to them, among which the city of Gary, in Indiana, with its iron and steel industry, was especially popular. After World War II, Gary became a new home for many Macedonian immigrants. The second largest wave of immigrants from Macedonia occurs in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Having a need to be among their people and to live the Macedonian identity, a Macedonian Benevolent Society called "Alexander the Great" was organized, although one of the most important aspects, the religious expression of their Orthodox faith, was practiced by visiting other, already established  Orthodox churches in the region, such as Greek, Serbian and Russian Churches. Because of this, the Macedonians paid a dear, and high "price" by sacrificing their Macedonian identity, when the Serbs would call them "Southern Serbs" and the Greeks "Bulgarians".

Encouraged by these things, as well as the then initiative to organize an independent Macedonian Church in the Homeland, Macedonians in Gary formed a Board of Directors, and on September 7, 1960, based on a petition with 98 names, the first documents for a Macedonian Orthodox Church in the United States were obtained. By the providence of God, the Macedonian priest Father Spiro Tanaskoski came to Gary on a private visit to his sister, so the members of the initiative took the opportunity to ask Father Spiro to become their priest. With the blessing of the first Archbishop of the restored Macedonian Orthodox Church, Dositej, on August 30, 1960, Father Spiro with his family moved to Gary to serve as a parish priest.

To perform the church services, the Macedonians at first rent space in an Assyrian Church. An assembly was being held at which unanimously was decided the church to be dedicated to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and also elected the first official Church Board with the first President of the Board, Mr. Todor Metlov. On December 24, 1961, the first service was held in Gary by a Macedonian priest, with the presence of a large number of proud and emotional Macedonians, who for the first time heard a service in their native Macedonian language. The board reviewed suitable locations and finally, with the generosity of the Macedonian people, a plot of land was provided for the construction of a church on 5100 Virginia Street. The consecration of the first church in Gary was held on July 14, 1963, by Archbishop Dositej.

In the 1970s, for some reason, dissent arose among Macedonian parishioners, and as a result, the priest and part of the membership left the community. In 1972, Father Boris Popovski was the new priest to serve the community until 1983, working for the peace among the Orthodox Macedonians and the success of the community. During the 70's, special attention was paid to the Sunday School, dance groups, the Altar boy group, as well as the church choir, but also other cultural and sports activities. Sts. Peter and Paul played a strong role in helping and forming other Macedonian churches through strong support, knowledge and leadership. This church played a key role in the founding of the Convention of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese, which is still being held. For many years, Macedonians gathered at the MPO Conventions, an organization which eventually became increasingly distant from the Macedonian identity. The idea for the Convention was presented to the Diocesan Assembly in 1974, and was unanimously accepted, and the first gathering took place in Toronto, Canada, in 1975. Sts. Peter and Paul hosted the Conventions in 1978, 1987, 1999, 2009, 2013, and will also be in the near 2021.

Between 1983 and 1988, Father Ruse Jankov was a parish priest. At that time, as the need arose, in the late 1980s, new land was purchased in Crown Point, where today's church will be built. The current church in Crown Point was consecrated on July 21, 1991. by the Metropolitans Timotej and Stefan, with several priests, in the presence of numerous Macedonian people from the sister churches. Father Tome Stamatov served as a parish priest from 1988 to 2016. During that period, the church saw continuous growth due to the influx of families, but also progress in the overall religious and cultural-national life. On September 26, 1995, during his visit, Archbishop Stefan announced the decision to raise Sts. Peter and Paul in the rank of Cathedral.

With the development of this church community, there was a need to appoint a second priest, so at the end of 2014, Father Dragan Jordanov comes to serve as a pastor together with Father Tome Stamatov, but after almost a year, Father Dragan leaves for service in the Nativity of the St. Mary Macedonian Orthodox Church in Detroit. On November 4, 2015, Father Georgi Gligorov with his family arrived to perform the duties of parish priest. After the retirement of Father Tome, on November 28, 2018, Father Alexander Mitrov comes as a parish priest, who together with Father Georgij are the two current and active parish priests of the church today. In recent years, several important projects have been completed in the church: renovation of the church and complete fresco painting, which should be completed during 2021, a small church (chapel) dedicated to St. Petka was built in the style of the old Macedonian churches, which is open day and night and which is gladly visited, not only by most of our people, but also by other Orthodox and non-Orthodox people from the surrounding area. The Cultural Center has been expanded with additional space and renovated, which, together with the church catering, have been used by all our Macedonian people, who celebrate here their baptisms, weddings, proms, etc. Simply put, the new generations are upgrading to what the previous generations of Macedonians have invested and sacrificed, trying to pave the way for the next generations of Macedonians to come after us. Most Macedonians in Indiana originate mainly from the regions of Bitola and Ohrid-Struga, although nowadays in Indiana we have emigrants from almost all parts of Macedonia. People who are trying to be united, always helping each other, but also supporting their own people in Macedonia, when there is a need. Thus Sts. Peter and Paul continue to radiate as a Macedonian spiritual-national lighthouse, which, although far from our native Macedonia, connects us with our ancestors, our past, Macedonian tradition and identity, but also shows the way to the new generations, who long to know who they are, and what they are.

Over the years, Sts. Peter and Paul were visited by many prominent church and political figures of Macedonia, including all Archbishops of the restored Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric, the first President of the Republic of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov, Prime Ministers Ljupco Georgievski and Nikola Gruevski, as well as President Gjorge Ivanov.