St. Prince Vladimir Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Miami was built in 1948 by Russian émigrés.
The first attempt to build a Russian Orthodox Church in the name of St. John the Baptist was made as early as 1936, but due to an ineffective contract and disagreements within the church leadership, the church could not claim rights to the building which went over to a private owner. The building has survived to this day but as a sectarian prayer house rather than an Orthodox church.
After the end of the Second World War the first and second waves of the Russian emigration resumed the construction of the church. Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) contributed greatly to building the church, due to his efforts a congregation on the canonical basis was founded. The first services were conducted in 1947 inside a large tent on a plot of land in an inhabited area of the western part of Miami.
The cornerstone of St. Vladimir Church was laid on November 7th, 1948. It was consecrated by Archbishop Nikon of Florida who arrived specifically from New York to perform the service. On this occasion, he donated to the church a holy icon of St. Martyr and Healer Panteleimon of Athens and some other holy relics.
The construction of the church was finished in November 1948.
Of those who founded St. Vladimir Church, a special tribute must be paid to a theatrical group of Russian midgets who found themselves in Miami at the outbreak of the Second World War. Especially respected and venerated among them are John and Paula Velikanoff, Basil and Maria Fillins who after years of serving the altar bequeathed their house to the congregation in order to financially support the church and the pastor’s family.
The first pastor of St. Vladimir Church was Fr. Theodore Rajewski. He began to exercise his duties in July 1948 and continued construction works by building a frater house, pastor’s house and making a garden. After the presvytera’s death, Fr. Theodor was ordained bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and set out for Australia in 1954.
The next pastor of the church was Fr. Paul Shamilsky but he didn't serve long and suddenly passed away during a liturgy. Upon his passing and for the next twenty years (1955 – 1975), the church was led by Fr. Eugene Seletsky. He extended the main part of the church and invited monk Cyprian from the Holy Trinity Monastery in New York to paint the walls and the altar.
Upon Fr. Eugene’s retirement, he was followed by Archimandrite Victor Jankovich, who led the parish from 1975 until his death in 1988. From 1988 to 1989 the church was led by Fr. Raphael Renzenick.
The present pastor of St. Vladimir Church is Fr. Daniel McKenzie. After converting from Catholicism to the Orthodox faith, Fr. Daniel and his presbytera Matushka Sophia Aleexeevna Oustinoff and their seven children have led the church parish since Fr. Daniel’s graduation of the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, N.Y.
2010. Photos by Dmitry Belanovsky
Church life (from http://www.saintvladimirmiami.com)
Procession of the Kursk Root Icon at St Vladimir Russian Orthodox Church in Miami (February 2011)