The Orthodox Christian Church is the first Christian Church, the Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and described in the pages of the New Testament. Her history can be traced in unbroken continuity back to the time of Christ and His Twelve Apostles beginning at Pentecost. For over twenty-one centuries, the church has continued in her undiminished and unaltered faith and practice. Today her Apostolic structure remains intact and maintains that the Church is the living body of Jesus Christ.
When Orthodox “latecomers” finally arrived in North America, they were often ignored as a “foreign” minority. By the 19th century various immigrant families from regions of Syria, Lebanon, and Greece, migrated to Beaumont, Texas. Their overwhelming sense of community centered on family, faith and church, which became the dominant force in their growth as American citizens. Since the religious and cultural climate of the New World was already deeply entrenched, immigrants from their Old World retained their own culture and native languages in their worship in order to preserve their own heritage. These early Orthodox Christians congregated in homes for worship in order to keep their traditions and faith alive.
The first recorded Orthodox Church in Beaumont came in 1898, making it the second Orthodox Church in North America preceded by St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. Historical facts and dates have become contradictory over the years; however, we do know that in 1908, St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church was consecrated by Bishop Raphael Hawaweeni from New York. At that time the church was a small, simple structure located at 1188 Ewing St. in the middle of the Syrian-Lebanese community, called the “hara”.
Difficulties about jurisdictions among ethnic groups and leadership began dissention in the parish. On Ascension, Thursday May 16, 1919, St. Michael church was destroyed by a sudden storm but the determination of the faithful would prevail. By 1920 the church on Ewing was rebuilt and the community continued to grow toward Americanization of the services and texts. Father Nicholas Nahas was serving as our priest during this period and began the necessary task of translating many of the prayers and services into English. He and his wife, Anna, contributed greatly to the diocese with these works which are now historically placed in the Antiochian Village Library in Pennsylvania.
The Beaumont parish also served as a spiritual base from which missionary priests would serve the needs of the Orthodox Christians throughout the Southern Region who had not established their own churches. As a result of this support, other churches throughout the southern region were established and Orthodoxy began to spread.
Tragedy would strike again on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1952, when St. Michael’s church was destroyed by fire, shocking the entire community. However, the wisdom and strength of the community met this tragedy as an opportunity to move toward growth from the “neighborhood” and seek a new centralized location.
On November29, 1953, St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church, located at 3055 North at 15th Street was dedicated by our beloved Metropolitan Archbishop Antony Bashir and has remained at this location since. Throughout the history of our church, commitment to the continuation of our faith meant much hard work and numerous fundraisers. It would be impossible to innumerate the contributions made possible by the ladies over the years by preparing their delicious ethnic foods this city has loved and supported. Without the ladies, there would be no church; their efforts and talents are endless.
The Beaumont parish has been partners in many civic projects over the years:
- Our own unbeatable Softball Team
- Founder of the Lucky 13 Boy Scout group for over 40 years
- Established the Southern Federation of Syrian, Lebanese, American Clubs in 1931, locally the L’Fanar Club
- Some Other Place, a charitable organization to assist in feeding and clothing the less fortunate
- Anayat House, a residence for out of town families that have a patient in the hospital
- Other Charities and disaster relief efforts as needs arose
St. Michael Church has always been known for its generosity and hospitality. Our church has welcomed many converts over the years. We pray that our Lord will enable us to witness our faith so that we can spread the growth of Orthodoxy in our community. Recently we completed Phase 1 of our Renovation Plan to the interior of our church. Many new features have been added to provide a beautiful sense of holiness, so that everything we do has one purpose: to lead us closer to God. If you are seeking a church that is faithful to Scripture and Tradition and strives to embody the faith in holiness, come visit us at St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church located at 3055 North, Beaumont, Texas.
"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” Matthew 5:16