St Jacob Orthodox Church in Bend, OR

Many of the churches that we help have been congregations without a regular space in which to worship. In the case of Bend, Oregon, the nearest Orthodox parish was two hours away.“In the summer of 2003 there were a few parishioners in Corvallis that were going to move to Bend,” notes Father Ignatius Strange, Priest-in-Charge at St. Jacob Orthodox Church in Bend, Oregon. “So they worked with Father Stephen Soot over in Corvallis to have services over here occasionally.”

Yet the congregation grew and needed a larger space to meet. Father Strange said that the congregation initially used commercial spaces, but what they found wasn’t truly what the parish needed.Luckily, before he left Father Damien Kuolt, the previous priest in Bend, Oregon, found an amazing space for St. Jacob Orthodox Church – a former Grange building.

“The [original] plan was to buy some property and build a place on the edge of Bend somewhere,” said Father Strange. “As it turns out, this place was such a deal that we were able to buy the land and [the Grange] building.”Father Strange notes how the former building is ideal for his parish. “Inside, it has a big open hall, which is perfect for the nave of the church, and it’s easily converted into a very comfortable worship space.”
Unfortunately, the older building also came with a number of challenges. “We have to redo the septic system and the heating and air,” said Father Strange. “Because these were huge expenses, we turned to OCCIF for a renovation loan.”

OCCIF worked with Father Strange and were able to provide funds to provide necessary renovations that met with the cities strict building regulations. Working with the OCCIF Secretary Linda Koshell and others, Father Strange was able to secure a loan that is steadily converting the existing Grange building into his new temple, which will serve all of Central and Eastern Oregon

“The beautiful thing [about] working with OCCIF is that you’re speaking with people that know what we’re doing and can understand it,” notes Father Strange. “We don’t need a cathedral,” notes Father Strange. “We are just people that need a church home, Thanks to OCCIF we have a very comfortable worship space that really fits this area.”

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