In 1999, St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church began with the coming together of two groups of people who shared the dream of an English-speaking Orthodox church for the east valley of Phoenix.
One group of eleven families who were long-time residents of Mesa and Gilbert and had traveled into Phoenix each week for Liturgy. They were brought together by Fr. Michael Evans of St. George, Phoenix. Another group of families was exploring the Orthodox faith and wanted to establish an Orthodox Church in the Tempe/Mesa area. They were being led by Fr. John Bethancourt of Santa Fe and Fr. John Finley of the Department of Missions and Evangelism.
The first services for this combined group were held in the Mesa Public Schools Food and Nutrition conference room. Fr. Edward Kelly, along with Kh. Margo and their young son Nicholas was assigned to the Mission. From the warehouse location, the congregation moved to an RV garage in the home of Ed and Bonnie Khoury. Great memories were made at each location.
Our next pastor, assigned in 2000, was retired priest Fr. Elias Ziton with his wife Kh. Lorraine. Under his administration, we moved services back to the warehouse complex before moving to the Trailside Center. This more permanent location on Main Street in Mesa became our home for several years.
In 2005, Fr. James Coles with his wife Kh. Karen and their children Emma, John, and Samuel, were assigned to the Mission. They had been visiting St. Ignatius every step of the way, worshipping in each location, and were even the first to sign their names into the guest book! Fr. James was assigned in July of that year and our congregation started to multiply. These were humble beginnings but we were able to pray together in unity and God blessed us. Our small storefront was expanded three times to accommodate our growth.
In 2012, God provided an opportunity for us to purchase the property on Redmont Circle. The congregation voted unanimously to make the move and we remodeled the office building. The next year Fr. James was elevated to Archpriest and Christopher Purdef was ordained to the Holy Diaconate. With our continued growth, we were recognized as a full-fledged church. Soon after we expanded the nave, our fourth expansion in seven years! In Christmas 2017, Fr. Basil Caldaroni retired and joined us at St. Ignatius with his wife Kh. Tilda and their son, Foster.
In 2019, we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the founding of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church to celebrate the work that God has done in our lives and in our community. We are also celebrating another unanimous decision to accept the free gift of a nine-acre church property at 2402 N. Usery Pass Road! As we stand on the doorstep of this new transition we give thanks to God for our parish, each other, and all the blessings He has given us. We are now a congregation of 100 families, many with young children and we have two men, Fr. Jesse Robinson and David Solheim, and their families at seminary. It is our hearts’ desire to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to carry forth the Orthodox Faith in our community. May it be blessed!