The Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross was founded in 1973 with the conviction that Orthodoxy was a gift that did not require the acquisition of certain language skills or the love of any particular ethnic cuisine or culture. All these could and indeed would be celebrated in their own time and way but they would not be the central organizing principles. In taking the name of the Holy Cross the parish leaders sought to bring together under this universal Christian "symbol" the deepest yearnings of all people to "know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." (John 17:3)
The first concrete step came with a letter written by Alexander Leon and Dennis Siry on May 9, 1973 asking the late Metropolitan Ireney (Orthodox Church in America) for permission to start an Orthodox Church in southern New Jersey. After a number of organizational meetings and the participation of the dean, Fr John Nehrebecki, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on September 16, 1973, at a school in Cherry Hill.
Shortly after that, Fr Anthony Pluth was ordained to the Priesthood and assigned as pastor, a position he held until 1986. From 1975 until 1984, the community utilized space within a hall of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Maple Shade, NJ. In 1984, it purchased its first building - the former site of the Medford Assembly of God. Finally, in 2004, construction on its current structure was completed.
The building was designed by Fr. Alexis Vinogradov and the iconography on its iconostasis was done by Dmitry Shkolnik.
The parish membership of approximately 100 adults is represented by many different backgrounds: Arabic, Carpatho-Russian, Greek, Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian, as well as many converts to the Orthodox Faith. As such, it draws people from nearly an hour radius of its location in southern New Jersey (outside of Philadelphia).
11 Wilkins Station Road, Medford, NJ 08055
Fr. John Shimchick, Rector - Church: (609) 654-4865 - Rectory: (856) 665-2491
Alexander Leon added greatly to the aesthetical beauty of the community's worship with his craftsmanship in designing and carving the altar, iconostas, center table, processional cross, and icon stands. The parish has also been blessed with one of its own sons, Alexander Gerken, attending St Vladimir's Seminary, becoming an Orthodox Monastic, and being ordained to the Priesthood. Fr Sergius (as he is now known) has served, among other places, as the pastor of Three Saints Church in Old Harbor, Alaska, Holy Resurrection Church, Berlin, New Hampshire, and St. Raphael Church, Inverness, Florida.
Over the years many creative and supportive people have given of their talents and resources. The community is particularly proud of the committed and beautiful efforts of its choir, which has been led by Josef Gulka. The choir has
organized Benefit Concerts, co-sponsored by local area high schools, in support of Covenant House. The parish has also benefitted from the work and generosity of its women's organization, St Helena's Guild.
The parish's most significant annual fundraising project is a Fall Festival (Held in September) that incorporates the sale of ethnic foods, imported and craft items, with a variety of musical and dance performers.
Church school classes, with monthly Children's Sermons take place on Sunday morning before the Divine Liturgy. Other educational opportunities -- guest speakers, biblical studies and presentations -- are offered during the year.
The parish prepares monthly meals for a local soup kitchen (The Community Luncheon) and donates to other local and national church causes as the need arises.
Fr. John Shimchick has served as the church's pastor since 1986. Since that time the parish has continued to develop and be challenged by the gift of the Orthodox Faith. It has sought to develop ways, both educational w for this Faith to shape its own community life and to be shared with the greater community.
The parish celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2013. Special commemorative reflections are available on the "Video" sidebar. Please review the other sidebar buttons for more information about our community, for tours of our church and iconography, and for liturgical recordings and materials from our choir. Copies of our monthly newsletter, Crossroads, is also available.