Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

RUSSIAN BAPTIST CHURCH

Morning Star, August 27, 1995, pg. 6

During the 1900s an 1910s, Albion became home to several hundred immigrants and their families from Eastern Europe. These included such areas as Russia, White Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, and similar areas. They arrived in Albion to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company, and settled in the Austin Avenue-Carson Street area of our city.

These people had spiritual needs, and two ethnic churches were established on Austin Avenue. The one we are featuring this week is the Russian Baptist Mission, or Church. It was formed in 1916 as a missionary outreach of the First Baptist Church several blocks away, to evangelize and convert the foreign settlement. The church operated under the auspices of First Baptist until it became independent in 1941.

With much sacrifice, love and labor, a small church building was erected at 614 Austin Avenue. The land was donated by Harry Parker, head of the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The building is still standing today as the Rib Creation House. First full time minister of the Russian Baptist Church was Rev. Paul Truss from Canada, who served from 1921 to 1925.

The strategy of the church was to first reach the children of the immigrant community, which would then tend to draw in their parents. My paternal grandmother, Loyza Obraz Pacic, originally from Kotari-Samobor, Croatia, was a member of this church. She died untimely in 1926 and unfortunately we have no photograph of her; perhaps someone might have old church group photographs with her in it. Services were held in the Russian language which immigrants understood even if they weren't from Russia.

A new church building was erected on N. Eaton St. in 1951, and the name was changed to the Eaton Street Baptist Church in hopes of broadening the base of the congregation. The original building became Union Cleaners.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of neighborhood school children at the mission. Based upon the ages of some of those in the photograph, including my own father and Aunt Dorothy, we have surmised that this photograph was taken around 1929 or 1930 during the time when Rev. Ostop Veremay was the minister. Notice the Russian language sign on top of the porch. Then pictured is a 1995 photograph of the building.



Neighborhood school children at the Mission, 1929.

Identifications are as follows: Front row, left to right: Nada Lazarchuck; Francis Harry with hands up; Nina Bokovek; Leada Veramay with finger in mouth; Esther Veramay; then (up) Anne Veramay with a circle drawn around her head; Ruth Romanchuk; Dorothy Pasic; Esther Shifkey; an unidentified youth who is turned the other way; and John Harry who is shown standing in front on the far right.

Middle row: Helen Elushik; Peter Brankovich; Helen Kolodica; (down) Estelle Elushik.

Top Row: Russell Krusik by pole; Frank Pasic; unidentified person with hat; Steve Veramay; with Victor Nesterenko on top of him; Peter Nesterenko; with Joseph Veramay on top of him; Nick Kolodica; with John Kolodica on top of him.


Russian Baptist Church in 1995.

Special thanks to Anne (Veramay) Thompson of Marshall for supplying the photograph and identifications this week. This writer appreciates people supplying him with old photographs to feature here in our Historical Notebook.

More about the Russian Baptist Church:
RUSSIAN BAPTIST CHURCH CHOIR, RUSSIAN BAPTIST CHURCH, PART 2, A RUSSIAN FUNERAL

Next: ALBION HISTORY QUIZ

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