Originally meeting in a house in Cle Elum beginning in 2004, what was then known as the Kittitas Valley Orthodox Christian Mission was begun under the guidance of Fr. Joseph Copeland from Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima. There were about 12-15 local members and in that location, Arsenios (George) Blaisdell and Basil (Bill) Hinkle were tonsured as the mission's first readers.
To be closer to a larger population base, including Central Washington University, the mission moved to Ellensburg in 2008, meeting at Farrell House located on the corner of 5th and Water St. near downtown. Because Holy Cross had three priests at the time, Divine Liturgy began to be served at our mission weekly on Sundays, with the priests coming to Ellensburg in turns. Fr. Joseph also held a catechism class on Tuesday evenings. For feast days and special events, such as Holy Week, Pascha and Nativity, members would have to travel to Yakima. At the Water street location, KVOCM grew to about 30 members.
In August 2010, the mission moved to its current location on Dennis Street thanks to the assistance of Rdr Arsenios, who purchased the house as his residence and allowed the church to use the building and property for ecclesiastical purposes. Remodel plans were initiated to convert the ranch-style house to a parish church. Eventually, the garage would become the future nave, with the altar and a narthex being added on to that. In the meantime, the congregation met in what was the house's living room with the dining room serving as both overflow space and the trapeza. Meeting in this fashion continued for nearly six years.
Approximately a year after moving onto the Dennis Street property, Fr. Paul Moses Jaroslaw was assigned to the growing mission as the parish priest and moved to Ellensburg from Homer, Alaska, with his wife, Khouria Thekla, and their daughter, Maria. Some members from the church in Homer also moved to Ellensburg at the same time and one of the families that joined the mission was that of Rdr. Michael Smith, who stepped into the role of head reader. With the arrival of the Alaskans, and a few more baptisms, there were soon about 50 members of the parish.
About a year later, Rdr Basil was tonsured as a sub deacon to serve the parish in that capacity. The mission was also given its patron saint, the Holy Prophet Elijah, by then-Archbishop JOSEPH (now Metropolitan JOSEPH) and officially became Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission. Three years later, during an ordination service at Holy Cross during Lent 2015, Sub Dn Basil became the parish's first deacon. New members continued to be added through baptism as time went on.
With Father Paul's vision leading the way, the building plans progressed, albeit a bit slowly as the work was done as the money came in. The framing was begun, the roof was installed, flooring went in, walls were prepared and eventually, the icons were hung. Finish work continued as well. After a year or so of thinking they'd certainly be in by the next big feast, the first services in the new church finally took place the weekend of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday 2016 (even though there were still a few things left to do). With great joy, Holy Pascha was celebrated in the beautiful building a week later.
In August of that year, Prophet Elijah Mission sent its first novice to St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery in Goldendale. A few months later, on Christmas Eve morning, they had their first large group baptism when 12 catechumens were received into the Holy Orthodox Church at one time. As of January 2017, there are approximately 85 communicants who call the Prophet Elijah Mission their home parish. This includes the majority of those who started the mission up in Cle Elum 13 years prior.
In the summer of 2017, the church was added to the property deed and became a rightful owner of the Dennis St. property. The parish remains strong in its purpose to further continue the process of establishing Holy Orthodoxy in Ellensburg ~ all to the glory of God.
The Holy Prophet Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament. He was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.
St Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: “When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames.” The name Elijah (the Lord’s strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.
During this time the Israelite nation had fallen away from the faith of their Fathers, they abandoned the One God and worshipped pagan idols, the worship of which was introduced by the impious king Jereboam. Jezebel, the wife of king Ahab, was devoted to idol worship. She persuaded her husband to build a temple to the pagan god Baal, which led many Israelites away from the worship of the true God. Beholding the ruin of his nation, the Prophet Elijah began to denounce King Ahab for impiety, and exhorted him to repent and turn to the God of Israel. The king would not listen to him. The Prophet Elijah then declared to him, that as punishment there would be neither rain nor dew upon the ground, and the drought would cease only by his prayer. Indeed, the word of Elijah was a torch (Eccles. 48: 1) The heavens were closed for three and a half years, and there was drought and famine throughout all the land.
During this time of tribulation, the Lord sent him to a cave beyond the Jordan. There he was miraculously fed by ravens. When the stream Horath dried up, the Lord sent the Prophet Elijah to Sarephta to a poor widow, a Sidonian Gentile who suffered together with her children, awaiting death by starvation. At the request of the prophet, she prepared him a bread with the last measure of flour and the remainder of the oil. Through the prayer of the Prophet Elijah, flour and oil were not depleted in the home of the widow for the duration of the famine. By the power of his prayer the prophet also performed another miracle: he raised the dead son of the widow.
After the end of three years of drought the Merciful Lord sent the prophet to appear before King Ahab, and promised to send rain upon the earth. The Prophet Elijah told the king to order all of Israel to gather upon Mount Carmel, and also the priests of Baal. When the nation had gathered, the Prophet Elijah proposed that two sacrificial altars be built: one for the priests of Baal, and the other for the Prophet Elijah who served the True God.
The Prophet Elijah told them to call on their gods to consume the sacrificial animals with fire, and he would call on his. Whichever was first to send fire on the sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true God. The prophets of Baal called out to their idol from morning till evening, but the heavens were silent. Towards evening the holy Prophet Elijah built his sacrificial altar from twelve stones, the number of the tribes of Israel. He placed the sacrifice upon the wood, gave orders to dig a ditch around the altar and commanded that the sacrifice and the wood be soaked with water. When the ditch had filled with water, the prophet turned to God in prayer. Through the prayer of the prophet fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and even the water. The people fell down to the ground, crying out: “Truly, the Lord is God!” Then the Prophet Elijah had all the pagan-priests of Baal put to death, and he began to pray for rain. Through his prayer the heavens opened and an abundant rain fell, soaking the parched earth.
King Ahab acknowledged his error and repented of his sins, but his wife Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet of God. The Prophet Elijah fled into the Kingdom of Judea and, grieving over his failure to eradicate idol worship, he asked God to let him die. An angel of the Lord came before him, strengthened him with food and commanded him to go upon a long journey. The Prophet Elijah traveled for forty days and nights and, having arrived at Mount Horeb, he settled in a cave.
The Lord told him that the next day Elijah would stand in His presence.There was a strong wind that crushed the rocks of the mountain, then an earthquake, and a fire, but the Lord was not in them. The Lord was in “a gentle breeze” (3 Kings 19: 12). He revealed to the prophet, that He would preserve seven thousand faithful servants who had not worshiped Baal.
Later, the Lord commanded Elijah to anoint Elisha into prophetic service. Because of his fiery zeal for the Glory of God the Prophet Elijah was taken up alive into Heaven in a fiery chariot. The Prophet Elisha received Elijah’s mantle, and a double portion of his prophetic spirit.
According to the Tradition of Holy Church, the Prophet Elijah will be the Forerunner of the Dread Second Coming of Christ. He will proclaim the truth of Christ, urge all to repentance, and will be slain by the Antichrist. This will be a sign of the end of the world.
The life of the holy Prophet Elijah is recorded in the Old Testament books (3 Kings; 4 Kings; Sirach/Ecclesiastes 48: 1-15; 1 Maccabees 2: 58). At the time of the Transfiguration, the Prophet Elijah conversed with the Savior upon Mount Tabor (Mt. 17: 3; Mark 9: 4; Luke. 9: 30).
Orthodox Christians of all times, and in all places, have venerated the Prophet Elijah for centuries. The first church in Russia, built at Kiev under Prince Igor, was named for the Prophet Elijah. After her Baptism St Olga (July 14) built a temple of the holy Prophet Elijah in her native region, at the village of Vibuta.
In iconography the Prophet Elijah is sometimes depicted ascending to Heaven in a fiery chariot, surrounded with flames, and harnessed to four winged horses. We pray to him for deliverance from drought, and to ask for seasonable weather.
Used with permission from the Orthodox Church in America website. (OCA.org)