St. Simon Church (Ironwood, Michigan)
St. Simon Church is a historic church under the jurisdiction of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, located in Ironwood, Michigan, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. St. Simon was built in 1914, originally to serve the Lebanese community that settled in the area for work at the beginning of the 20th century, but has become more pan-Orthodox in scope, in particular embracing a Serbian community that was not too far away. St. Simon has always been a small parish, and for much of its history, has not had its own priest. As of 2016, St. Simon is being served once a month by the priest of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Iron Mountain, Michigan, another historic parish located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
St. Simon was built primarily to serve the Lebanese community that settled in Ironwood; there is some confusion as to whether the church's name was actually supposed to be St. Simon, but that in the translation from Arabic to English, these new residents of Ironwood actually meant to christen the church in the name of St. Simeon (also Symeon) the Stylite or even St. Samuel. In practice, St. Simon honors both the Apostle Simon and St. Simeon the Stylite, and over the years continues to be referred to by both names. Fr. Nicola Yanney made regular trips to Ironwood during his lifetime, generally visiting the community at least twice a year. (His son, Elias, married Mary Abraham, a Lebanese resident of Ironwood, in 1916.)
The property for St. Simon was purchased for $300, and in contrast to the other houses on that side of the block which face south, St. Simon faces east. It was planned that some of the rest of the property would be used as a cemetery, but these plans never came to fruition.
As transportation became easier, Serbian families living in the area of Wakefield, Michigan started attending St. Simon beginning in the late 1940s and early 1950s due to the fact that the nearest Serbian church was located roughly 120 miles away, in Duluth, Minnesota, making it difficult to attend services regularly. Up until about the 1970s, St. Simon had about 40 families, after that, until the late 1990s, at least, only about 20 families.
Bishop Anthony (Michaels) of Toledo grew up as a member of St. Simon.
- St. Simon Orthodox Church celebrates 100th anniversary Stankard, Tom; Your Daily Globe; September 28, 2015
- Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) 1997 articles (series) Northodox.org
- Fr. Nicola Yanney: the first Antiochian priest in Mid-America by Fr. Paul Hodge via OrthodoxHistory.org
- Fr. Nicola Yanney timeline compiled by St. George Orthodox Church, Kearney, Nebraska
- Biography of Bishop Anthony Antiochian.org site