Despite fire at historic Tremont church, parishioners to gather for service

(CLEVELAND) (WJW) — A church is about more than just the building. The true foundation comes from the people who go there.

The copper domes of Saint Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral has been a part of the Cleveland skyline for more than 100 years.

But the soul of the church is older than that.

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“It is the oldest orthodox church in Ohio with the parish community in 1896 and the church was built in 1911. It took them 18 months to build the church,” Saint Theodosius Priest Jan Cizmar said.

Russian immigrants first began moving into the Cleveland area in the late 1880s. as many sought a better life and steady work in the mills around Tremont.

“Twelve families worked in the mills, and they made up to $2 per week — barely nothing — and they were able to build this magnificent cathedral and get all people together people coming from Eastern Slovakia, Western Ukraine,” Cizmar said.

“The Deer Hunter,” a 1978 Oscar-winning film that featured the church in a traditional Russian Orthodox wedding scene, introduced the beauty of the church to the world.

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Now, even in the middle of all this destruction from Tuesday’s fire that was ruled accidental, there’s a desire and drive literally to pick up the pieces and bring things back.

A service is planned for 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Like the immigrants who built this church all those years ago, there’s is strength here and a will to keep this parish strong.

“It’s a difficult time for everyone, but like the bishop told everyone, we’ll get through it,” one church member said. “It’s just a bump in the road.”

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