Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church Miami

Fundraiser for Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church

A Threat to Heritage and Faith

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Established in 1951, Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church is one of Miami’s oldest Eastern Orthodox parishes. In 1954, the parish rooted itself in the historic Shenandoah neighborhood (an area currently referred to as “Little Havana”) by purchasing the mansion of Miami’s first elected mayor. After extensive renovations, Mayor Reilly’s elegant home, built in 1927, was transformed into a beautiful house of worship and refuge, while retaining residence quarters on the second floor. The parish community’s commitment to the area was fully confirmed when the mortgage was paid off just a few years later, in 1960.

Over its more than 70-year history, Saints Peter and Paul have been served by numerous devoted senior priests and deacons who nurtured this multi-ethnic community in faith and love. While Saints Peter and Paul parish has ministered to the spiritual needs of the Orthodox Christian faithful, it has also opened its doors more broadly to the community at large through refugee assistance, poverty relief efforts, addiction recovery support, and outreach ministries.

Our historic church has always brought people together not just for worship, but for mutual understanding and support.

While honoring the past, Saints Peter and Paul has always anticipated a vibrant future, continuing its legacy as a spiritual home where all are welcomed. However, this legacy now faces a serious threat amidst a contentious legal dispute with the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Diocese of the South (DOS), which is purporting to claim ownership and control over the parish property despite Saints Peter and Paul’s owning the site since the date of purchase in 1954, long before the OCA or Diocese of the South even existed.This contentious relationship began well over a year ago.

In November 2022, the long-awaited new priest (from war-torn Ukraine) was barred by the DOSOCA from taking up his promised post at Saints Peter and Paul, despite the parish having funded and facilitated the legal immigration process for him and his family over several years. Upon the priest’s arrival to the United States, the DOSOCA held the new rector and his family in a location unknown to the parish, for over two months, and then, without warning or notice, and after causing intense distress and anguish for all involved, sent the family off to a different city. Additionally, DOSOCA administrators have repeatedly denied Saints Peter and Paul the assignment of a new rector, effectively placing parish community life on hold at the Little Havana location.

To fight for the future of Saints Peter and Paul and for the stability of the neighborhood where it is rooted, the church has launched an emergency online fundraising appeal named “Save Our Church.” Donations will fund legal defense in civil court against the DOSOCA’s lawsuit to seize our property and assets. The campaign asks the Miami community and allies from all faiths to support the church’s legacy of Christ’s love in action.

Read more below 

Help Preserve this History

The legal fundraiser exists to get SS Peter and Paul back to fulfilling our mission as soon as possible. With your support, we can focus resources on our legal case in order to move beyond this trouble and get back to the work of ministering and serving the people and our Lord and Savior

Legal Situation And Fundraising Appeal​

The Diocese of the South, led by Archbishop Alexander is currently in the process of suing parish members in an attempt to destroy them personally and take the property that has been their church for over 25 years (a parish of 70+ years)! The Diocese has never given even one penny to this church.

How would you feel if this happened where you put your heart and soul?
This legal battle is just a property dispute, but it seems that the OCA clergymen think it's an opportunity to bully and bad mouth the faithful.
Do you think this is Christ-like behavior?

Nov. ’22- After 4 years and $20,000 spent to bring a Priest from Ukraine, this Priest was held away from the Parish in a hotel and told not to have contact with them. This family had just left their war-torn country to be told that they couldn’t move in to their new home and start the job that was waiting for them. No money, no job, no car and completely at the mercy of Rev. Joseph Lucas, Rev. Marcus Burch and Archbishop Alexander. Meanwhile, the corporate board was asked to take illegal and unethical actions. After 2 months this Priest was sent to another Parish, even though this parish tried to comply with the ever changing demands without engaging in illegal actions. (Emails 11/22/22 – 1/30/23)

March ’23-Promised that the parish would be reimbursed they waited a month to discover that 40% of the originally approved amount would not be reimbursed, as determined by Lucas (who is a Dean not the treasurer or the bishop). This action involved manipulation, false accusations, and lies.

May ’23- A few months later, these same clergymen took control of the website used for the parish, which had been contracted and paid for by a parishioner for 14 years. The owner of Orthodox Web Solutions (a private company) simply handed it over because “the bishop said so”! Within minutes the site was changed, people removed, others added, changed the calendar and the Church history. And they then started to use the imbedded mailing list for their purposes. A week later these clergymen sent out emails that contained derogatory language and falsehoods about the parish and its members. (Emails 5/30/23 to current)

Since they sent the Priest away and the interim Priest was retiring, the parish was told (not asked) to house and pay the assistant Priest of Lucas’! This arrangement would have the parish covering more than half of this assistant Priest’s salary for every other Sunday services. He would have been the assigned assistant Priest of Lucas’ parish not Ss Peter and Paul. The entire parish wrote to the Bishop refusing to comply with this unreasonable demand and asked that this Priest be assigned to Ss Peter and Paul. The interim Priest, on his last day at the parish was required to read a derogatory, demeaning and mean spirited letter from the Archbishop to a crowd of 70-80 people! (5/21/23)No one was left undisturbed.

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Complete lies, slander, and defamatory statements are being spread about the people who just want to continue worshipping the Lord and ministering to others. And there is no recourse! The Metropolitan “can’t help”, and the OCA Chancellor just casts the issue aside and may even be helping this destruction.

Is this the Orthodox Church of America code of conduct now? Priests get to do whatever and behave however they want? No consequence?

We appreciate your assistance in this matter.

 Since the entire parish would not financially support this scheme, the parish was then “closed” down as posted on the website. Yet, they put the blame on the people. And more nasty statements were made about the parishioners by the “Bishop” or whoever wrote it.  What kind of bishop calls the parishioners “a few bad apples” (email 5/30), and says things like “I didn’t choose you, you didn’t choose me and so I’ve had no choice but to rule from afar”? (Zoom 5/30)  Emails were periodically sent slandering a few parishioners while asking the others to share those defamatory statements.

2 months later these clergymen held a meeting “with the parish”, some people were excluded, and most attendees were already members of other churches. Burch and Robichau made many false statements.

 5 months later, they assigned a Priest from a parish 1 ½ hours away as “the Chaplain” and he started sending out “parish” bulletins.

These Priests and Bishop have broken into and changed all the locks on the church building and admitted to using Diocesan funds in a zoom meeting and in writing (carried out by Lucas), this was caught on camera. Then, Lucas took over the corporation that originally held the deed, by filing fraudulent reports and took those papers to the bank and somehow got control of the bank accounts.

 Burch and Rev P. Robichau, then showed up on the property unannounced, with a locksmith, an SUV and an unmarked white van and covered up the security cameras. When the Police came, they tried to convince them to arrest some the corporate board members who hold the deed to the property. The Police then told Burch and Robichau to leave.  What were they going to do? Take everything they could fit in the vans? Stake their flag and claim they own the property? The corporation and the Diocese were already in legal mediation and the lawyers, Police officers and the entire fraud department has never seen men take such actions while in legal mediation.

8 months after “suppressing the parish and suspending services”, these clergymen arranged for a liturgy to be served in a nearby parish of another jurisdiction, maybe they “care” so much about the people that they rushed into making this happen? All during this time, they have been telling everyone to go to other parishes. “May it be blessed” if you find another spiritual home. (8/2/23- current)

FYI: before all this started all the members of the parish got along with no issues, until 2 days before the Ukrainian Priest was to arrive and then “all hell broke loose”. Every Sunday there were 40-50 people and on Pascha 80 people attended. Yet 2 days before Pentecost the bishop suspended services and gatherings!

They have repeatedly refused to assign a Priest – “the issue of a pastor for Ss. Peter and Paul is not a matter of being unable to find a suitable, energetic person for this role. We have clergy available. What we don’t have is enough communities with a budget to sustain a fulltime pastor and his family. Ss. Peter and Paul falls into this category.” Funny, how the parish was deemed worthy of paying for immigration and green cards for an entire family 4 years earlier, but now when the financial status has improved and regular attendance had increased, and there is a fully furnished newly renovated 2 bedroom apartment, only then was the parish told “you are not capable”. For over 26 years, the parish has only been lent retired Priests, never even offered a younger Priest. The property has always been owned by an independent corporation and has never been under the legal authority of a jurisdiction or diocese. Yet these clergymen keep trying to “re-claim the property”, you can’t re-claim something that was never yours. And the corporation has been accused of stealing the property and money, but you can’t steal something that is already yours legally.

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