At the turn of the twentieth century and until the year 1907, a group of thirty or more immigrant families of Russian and Slavic descent settled in the western part of Berwick. Their goal was to find work and locate a place to worship God. Most secured employment at the local American Car and Foundry Corporation. They purchased a church and property located at the corner of First Avenue and Warren Street. In order to comply with the regulations of the Eastern Church, where the altar faces east, the building had to be turned on its foundation. However, due to minor differences in dialect and control of the church dissolution resulted with the church becoming the property of the Ukrainian element of the pioneering group.
The Russian group then rented rooms in a large store building, which was directly across from the present church. Services were conducted there from 1909 to 1910. The Reverend Andrew Bohoslavsky conducted the first Divine Liturgy. Reverend Besishkin succeeded him. Through his efforts and the cooperation of the parishioners, it was decided to erect a church. A wooden structure was constructed in 1910 upon land purchased from Mr. Percy Shiner. On Thanksgiving Day in 1910, the late Metropolitan Platon dedicated the new church. The congregation worshiped there until a fire destroyed the church.
Services were held in the basement of the church, which was only slightly damaged. Reverend Stephen Sopaida was the new rector at this time. A brick building was soon constructed over the site of the destroyed church. Services were held in the parish home until work was completed in 1923. Bishop Stephen Dzubay dedicated the new church.
Reverend Simeon Bogan served the church in 1925 and organized the Russian Glee Club. After his death, Reverend Aftanasia Hubiak served until his transfer to Akron, Ohio. During this time a twenty-foot addition was built in 1931 and an Iconostas erected to beautify the interior.
Serving the congregation of Holy Annunciation from 1936-1946 was the V.Rev. John J. Gaydos. During these troubed years of WW2, Fr. John and Mat. Helen kept record of the Veterans Honor Roll in the Church Vestibule with silver stars for those wounded and gold stars for those who lost their lives. Fr. John was also instrumental in the acquisition of the property on 3rd and Warren for the “R” Club as well as the acquisition of the upper road to the cemetary.
A church addition, Iconostas, and cemetery grounds were dedicated in 1953. Very Reverend Petretzky was rector at this time. He was followed by Reverends Buben, Ugrin, Labowsky, Heirmonk Roman (Serdynski), Reverends Rental, and Cucura in that order. The Reverend Paul Holoviak was rector from 1967 to 1971. A new parish home was built and dedicated on July 18, 1971.
Very Reverend Andrew Shuga then served the parish from 1971 until his death in 2001.During that time, renovations were completed on the Iconostas, new icons were commissioned and installed on the interior walls of the church, and the cupola restored. The church’s annual picnic was re-instituted and became a major source of revenue for the church.
The Reverend James Weremedic came to serve the parishioners of the church in early 2001. Renovations to the church kitchen were completed in the fall of 2001 and dedicated on January 19, 2002 to the memory of Very Reverend, Father Andrew Shuga. In the summer of 2004, work began on a $400,000 addition to the church. The project included a vertical lift to three levels, a Library and meeting room, a handicapped-accessible bathroom, additional storage areas, the enclosing of the front steps, several stained glass windows, iconography and the refurbishing of the Altar Table. His Grace, Bishop Tikhon blessed the new addition on May 21, 2005.
Our present rector, Reverend Michael Demko came to Holy Annunciation in August of 2008. Several ministries are active at this time: Holy Annunciation Ladies Organization, the social and service arm of the church; the Choir who provides us with beautiful liturgical music; our Church School; and our Outreach Committee. Father Michael has also begun an adult education class to study the bible. With Father Michael’s spiritual leadership, we will continue to grow as a church family.