Sea Cliff is a small piece of American Russia. In the 1870’s, before the area was given its name, German Methodists gathered here for religious conferences. Only in 1883 did the town receive the name of Sea Cliff. Gradually the village became a favorite resort area for residents of New York City, and then shortly after World War II, many Russians were drawn to settle here. At one time, this small hamlet on the Long Island Sound was called a “town of nobility,” as so many members of the Russian aristocracy resided here. They founded a parish in 1953 and built a Russian Orthodox Church dedicated to St Seraphim of Sarov. At first, services had to be performed in the priest's house on 14th Ave, in a tiny room and an enclosed porch, but the foundation of the new church was already laid. Countless people donated their time and gave money saved from their meager incomes so that by 1959 the construction of the church was completed. Over the main entrance there is a mosaic which depicts an image of the patron saint with the words, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.” There could have been no other words expressed by those who, having made their way to a new continent, thanked the Lord with their hearts and deeds. These included Archpriest Daniel Dumsky, the first rector, Prince Vasily Nikolaevich and Princess Maria Vaslievna Engalichev, and the poetess, Princess Natalia Vladimirovna Urusoff. The latter was a woman of profound faith and filled with kindness—a real barynya, a noblewoman, as she was known here. The builders of St. Seraphim Church were obliged to reestablish their lives more than once: first in Russia, then in Europe, and finally after World War II, in America. They endured many challenges, including detainment camps, but for them, their priority was to build a church so that they could give thanks to God, “and in order to preserve Russia outside of Russia’s borders,” says Archpriest Serafim Gan, the present Rector of St Seraphim Parish.
In the 1960’s, the number of Russians living in Sea Cliff grew. On Sea Cliff Avenue, the Russian language could be heard even more frequently than English. Thanks in great part to Fr Mitrophan and his wife, Alexandra Semyenovna, who arrived here in 1959, the parish developed a warm, family-like atmosphere. A sisterhood, library, and Sunday school, were founded in the parish.
In 2012, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and by decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, St Seraphim Church was designated The Memorial Church of the Reestablishment of Unity Within the Russian Orthodox Church. This important event is commemorated in the extensive internal frescos.
This book is dedicated to one of the most significant events in the spiritual life of St. Seraphim's Church in Sea Cliff, NY: the 60th anniversary of its salvific service to the Russian Orthodox people of Long Island.
The book consists of two parts. The first part contains the history of the parish, composed by P.L. Shohov in 2003, and excerpts from the parish annals. The second part contains biographical information on the deceased rectors. In that section, the reader will also find information about the present-day life of St. Seraphim's Church.
On sale now for $40.
St. Seraphim’s Russian Orthodox Church
131 Carpenter Ave.
Sea Cliff, NY 11579.