Monday, August 15, 2005

Belarusians in Brooklyn

One of the least-visible Slavic communities in New York is the Belarusians. Anyone who's been to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, however, has certainly noticed St. Cyril of Turau Cathedral, the community's centerpiece.

The church was founded in 1950 by Belarusians fleeing the Soviet Union after World War II. Initially, services were held in rented premises in East New York, near an existing Belarusian parish, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity at 400 Glenmore Avenue, founded in 1909.

After a couple years, the parish quickly moved to East 4th Street in Manhattan, allying themselves with the Holy Trinity Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church. By 1957, the community had managed to purchase their current building at 401 Atlantic Avenue, a former Episcopalian church on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, built in 1850.

Today, the parish is quite small, with just about two dozen regular members. But it is significant nevertheless, as it is the seat of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which is made up of 15 parishes in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

Check out "Keeping the Faith," an article about the parish, and for more information about Belarusians in the United States.

And a good excuse to visit the church will come on 25 September, when the parish holds its annual Belarusian Festival, part of the annual Atlantic Antic street festival.

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