Holy Trinity Orthodox Church began in 1980 as a campus ministry of the Orthodox Church in America’s (OCA) Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. In time, it attracted more and more individuals from the surrounding community who desired to worship regularly in town rather than travel up to 40 miles to attend already-existing parishes in neighboring communities.
In 1993, a small group of 16 souls ventured out in faith to purchase our current building at 119 South Sparks Street. Only three years later (1996), Father John Reeves relocated to State College from Texas with his family to serve as our first pastor. This was made possible by the stewardship of the mission community and a Planting Grant from the Department of Missions of the OCA.
Tapping into his missionary expertise, Father John guided the nascent mission church into fully self-supporting parish in just three years. During his 20 years here, the parish has grown from 16 adults to a community of more than 175 adults and children. In the summer of 2010, the parish was able to reward this hard work by applying for—and receiving—a Sabbatical allowing him to retrace as close as possible St. Herman’s 1793-94 missionary journey from Valaam Monastery to Alaska.
Holy Trinity’s faithful have always had a heart for college students. In 1997, Father John became the chaplain of the Penn State chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) and the parish has fully sponsored this ministry ever since. Over the years, several of the group’s alumni have become missionaries or members of the clergy, including Deacon Alexander Cadman, who became a member of our staff in 2008 to lay the groundwork for a full-time University ministry and an office on campus.
One year later, Father Basil Biberdorf joined the staff as Assistant Rector and director of the parish’s outreach to Snyder County, where a new mission community is currently developing. The same year, Deacon Mark Oleynik also moved to State College. He became the administator of Holy Trinity’s Sunday School program and Director of Christian Education in January 2010. In June 2013, Deacon David Smith was ordained to the diaconate here at Holy Trinity and assigned to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit— the mission in Snyder County— becoming its administrator when Father Basil departed in 2014.
Mirroring our growth in attendance and personnel, Holy Trinity’s facilities also have undergone a dramatic enhancement in the past few years. In 2006, the parish began and completed a building program to remodel and expand worship and program space by 75 percent. In August, a major phase of this work was concluded with the installation of brand new iconography that completed the new iconostasis and the upper portion of the Sanctuary wall.