The parish of the Church of the Nativity was established in 1916 by
Russian Old Believer immigrants in Erie. By 1919, the Church of the
Nativity’s original house of worship was constructed for the growing
Russian community of Erie. The church prided on its sense of culture
and tradition, conducting masses in Slavonic, their native language. By
the 1940s, the church’s parishioners became interested in American
culture and the English language. However, masses were held in the
Slavonic language until 1980, when Father Simon Pimen began conducting
services in English to attract new parishioners. To further the
development of the church, Father Pimen Simon, along with the parish
committee, decided to unite with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia. Following this decision, Father Pimen was officially ordained
into the priesthood, and the church was fully consecrated.
On July 22, 1986, the entire original church was destroyed by the fire,
with the exception of the royal doors, deacon’s doors, iconoclasts,
icons, books, alter, vestments, and the sanctuary. It was considered a
miracle that the parish’s most sacred objects were spared by the fire.
Four days after the fire, a temporary church was opened in the church’s
community center. Construction for the new church began in October 1986
and was completed in Summer 1987. On August 25, 1987, the church held
its first service in the new church – 68 years after the original
church opened in 1919.