St. Kliment of Ochrid Church

Los Angeles, California

Founded 1961

Diocese: Bulgarian Diocese

Deanery: Bulgarian Diocese Chancery

Address

5861 Virginia Ave
Los Angeles, California 90038

Parish Contacts

Rev. Nikolay Todorov
Temporary Administrator

Directions

From California 101
Exit from California 101 at Santa Monica Blvd or Sunset Blvd and go west. From Santa Monica Blvd, turn right (north) on Bronson Ave. From Sunset Blvd, turn left (south) on Bronson Ave. Church is located at the northeast corner of Bronson and Virginia Avenues in Hollywood.

Schedule of Services

10:30 AM Divine Liturgy.
Sunday Morning

Parish Background

On November 23, 1980, the Altar of our church, St Kliment of Ochrid, was consecrated by our Diocesan Prelate, His Grace Bishop Kyrill.  This joyous occasion coincided with the beginning of our jubilee year celebrating the 200th anniversary of our beautiful City of the Angels, the home of St Kliment, a House of Worship for Bulgarian Orthodox not only in Los Angeles, but for those living in all of Southern California.

The road to this day was not an easy one.  When our first Bulgarian immigrants came to Los Angeles, they felt as strangers far from homeland and loved ones.  It was decided unanimously that they must build a Bulgarian church where they may gather at holidays and the feasts, and also to have a place to go in moments of grief when one needs to pray to God and to find solace among friends.

On March 30, 1939, they organized the Bulgarian Christian Community, “Holy Epiphany,” mainly through the efforts of Peter Elieff, John Triffin, and Peter Gencheff.  For some time they held services officiated by Russian priests, but the great effort to earn a living for their families and the Second World War tore them away from their goal.

In 1960 a major reorganization took place within the church community.  Working towards the goal of the building of a church were now Metodi Mihailovsky, Peter Elieff (the president), and Jordan Yanakieff, who followed as president the next year.  Mr Chirsto Jaytsarov, a graduate of the seminary in Sofia, was also of great help in this reorganization.  He subsequently held the office of president, and with a deep devotion to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church served as reader and chanter until his death.

One of the changes decided by the members was that the church community be registered with the State of California under the name of “Sveti Kliment Ochridsky.”  What more appropriate name than that?  The name of the first student of SS Cyril and Methodius, of the man who carried and taught the Word of God in the Bulgarian language between Ochrid and the Black Sea.  And so on January 17, 1961, the Articles of Incorporation were filed in Sacramento.  The by-laws of the church organization were prepared and accepted on February 14, 1961.  In October of that same year, the church arranged for services in the small hall of the Bulgarian Club.  They were officiated by guest clergy with responses by a choir led by Mr Luben Balabanoff.  At the same time, all worked very hard to find and acquire a Bulgarian priest.  But the hand of death took one by one, Peter Elieff, Jordan Yanakieff, and Metodi Mihailovski.

In November of 1966, during the presidency of Dr A Stephen Titeff, Fr Peter Grancharov, a Bulgarian priest, became the rector of St Kliment of Ochrid.  The Sunday services continued, but this time at Holy Trinity, an Episcopal church in Hollywood.  Mr Stefan Kantardjieff became the director of the church choir whose members worked long and hard as each week they added hymns to their repertoire, until today they sing responses and hymns in both Bulgarian and English.  This dedicated group has been beautifying our services each and every Sunday for the past thirty years.

In 1968 the church purchased the property on a corner of Bronson and Virginia Aves for the building of a church.  On April 19, 1970, Fr Peter Grancharov resigned and Fr Vladimir Mihailov became the parish priest.  Many plans for the church building were considered and submitted for approval.  Long and difficult neetings and appeals were made for the granting of a building permit.  Finally the design of the young architect, Peyo Mihailovsky, was accepted.  Mr Louis Maltcheff, general contractor, helped tremendously with the building of the church, as did several Bulgarian engineers, but the entire construction was under the supervision of Mr Evan Evanoff.

The festive groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 30, 1971.  The celebration was warm and enthusiastic, and everyone took turns at the shovel trying to turn over as much ground as possible from the hard soil, as if everyone was ready to complete the whole excavation in one day.  The foundations and the hall of the church were completed, and the cornerstone was placed in a very festive atmosphere on February 27, 1972.  Sealed in the cornerstone is a scroll bearing the signatures of those who turned a shovel of earth.  During June of the same year arrived the icons, which were presented to the church by the congregation of the Bulgarian-Macedonian Church, St Mary, in Syracuse, NY.

All took part in the building of the church—old and young, men and women and children—from the eldest to the youngest.  The youth group, the Young Bulgarian Society, painted benches and planted trees; the Ladies Auxiliary held fund raisers.  Finally the job was done.  The beautiful church, St Kliment of Ochrid, became a reality.  Everyone was impatient to take part in the first service in it.  And so on Easter, 1973, at exactly 11 PM, Bishop Kyrill and Fr Vladimir sanctified water and thus blessed the church and proudly led the congregation into the new and beautiful house of God,  With the traditional singing of “Christ is risen” the congregation lit up the votive under the icon of St Kliment so that it may burn at the Pacific Ocean as it burns at the Lake of Ochrid.

There followed many joys as well as sorrows.  We lost active and devoted board members.  But whether it be weddings, baptisms, funerals, or memorial services…there is now a place where these can be done properly.  The Bulgarian congregation finally had a home of its own.

On November 23, 1980, in the Holy Throne of St Kliment of Ochrid, His Grace Bishop Kyrill, assisted by the VRev Fr Vladimir Mihailov, the Rt Rev Archimandrite Pemberton, and guest clergy, placed the relics of St John of Rila, the patron Saint of Bulgaria, and St Herman of Alaska, the first Orthodox saint on American soil, so that they may protect us and guide us.