Saints Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church began in 1974 when Metropolitan Vladimir of blessed memory made contact with Orthodox faithful in Colorado Springs. At the time, liturgical services were periodically held at the Air Force Academy by Orthodox chaplains. Encouraged by the response, Metropolitan Vladimir asked Father John Schreiber, then assistant priest at Saint Innocent Church in Tarzana, CA, to consider starting a mission in our city. While on vacation in August of 1974 Father John stopped in Colorado Springs. One month later he moved here and began work with the mission.
First Service: September 8th, 1974
The first “official” service took place on September 8, 1974—the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, and the beginning of the liturgical year… truly a fitting and appropriate beginning for a new Orthodox community. In those early days, Metropolitan Vladimir dedicated the community in memory of the heavenly patrons Saints Constantine and Helen. Divine Liturgy was celebrated every Sunday morning in various donated facilities, while Vespers and Feast Day services were held in Father John’s apartment. In August of 1975, a little less than one year after the start of the mission, the Church was incorporated and an acre of land was purchased on North Chestnut Street.
At the Annual Meeting of January 1977, the parish discussed the possibility of a building program. A series of meetings were held with representatives of a church finance program, as the council explored selling bonds to build a Temple. All issues regarding such a program passed unanimously, the week of September 15th was declared “Bond Week”, and the entire issue of $40,000 sold in only four days! On October 2, 1977 Father John conducted the ground-breaking ceremony. Nine months later, on July 22, 1978 Great Vespers was held in Colorado Springs’ first Orthodox Christian Temple, followed by Divine Liturgy the next morning…
Father Anthony Karbo
Father Anthony was assigned to the parish and people of Saints Constantine and Helen in 1995.
He hails from the Pacific Northwest, where he was introduced to Christianity in high school through Young Life. He continued his ministry with that organization while attending Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.
Father Anthony completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Colorado in Denver before moving to Colorado’s western slope to initiate high school ministries for Young Life there.
Father Anthony’s conversion to the Orthodox faith was a gradual process of awakening. The writings of the early church fathers had an enormous influence in his spiritual development, especially the works of St. Maximos the Confessor. Father Anthony recalls his acquaintance with the mystical theologians of the church as having opened a spiritual ocean where once had appeared only a swimming pool. He and his wife Elizabeth were received into the Orthodox Church in 1988 at the small parish of St. Andrew’s in Delta, Colorado.
Father Anthony studied theology first at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California and then at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania. He graduated from St. Tikhon’s and was ordained a priest in 1995. He was assigned by His Grace, Bishop Tikhon to Colorado Springs later that year.
“And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle…” Exodus 35:21
In 1999 Saints Constantine and Helen Church felt the time was right to plan for a long-awaited new and glorious Orthodox Temple to be built on the existing property. Several initial drawings and revisions were done, but each leaving something to be desired: they just “weren’t right”. It was determined that we were going about the whole process wrong, prioritizing cost over vision, practicality ahead of theology, works (what man can do) above faith (what God can do). Frustrated, we did what should have been done at the beginning of the process: looked to the Scriptures with respect to how and what to build. In the book of Exodus (chapters 34-35) we discovered that:
- God Himself designs the temple
- The Temple is to be built with the best that we have to offer God
- The Temple is a reflection of Who God is and His heavenly Kingdom
- Those who have a willing heart will give
Thus began a new chapter in our building plan. We scrapped our committee approach to architecture, and looked toward that which God has handed down to us in Holy Tradition. With a precedent set by the newly built St. Seraphim Church in Santa Rosa, we determined that a 12th century Byzantine architectural design would reflect who we were as Orthodox Christians in Colorado Springs—neither simply Greek, nor Russian, but truly Catholic (universal) in essence. Secondly, we determined that if we were to build at all, it had to be the “best” we could offer to God—this is not to say it would be the “best” the world could offer, but the best that we, as a people of God in this place, at this time, were sacrificially capable of offering. We would be driven not by our pocket books, giving God the “leftover”, but we must be driven by our vision of God and His Heavenly Kingdom as reflected in all aspects of our Holy Orthodox faith. It had to be costly, because God is costly; beautiful because God is beautiful, harmonious because God is harmonious, eternal because God is eternal, etc. We would build not just for ourselves, but for the generations to come after us who would be baptized, married, buried in this holy space. Finally, we trusted that God Himself would move the people toward such a project. We would not rely on our fundraising skills and “song and dance”, we pledged not to beg or cajole, but trusted in God to move the people’s hearts to give—and this He did! God raised up not only our own people to the challenge, but gave true sacrificial vision to our builder (Fred Fletemeyer, Inc.), the architectural firm (RTA inc.), People’s Bank (who took a leap of faith when no other institution would, due to the size of our project relative to parish membership) and even the city planning department of Colorado Springs (which granted numerous variances to the project).
We planted a Cross in the earth where the Holy Altar would stand on August 5th, 2001. On June 15th, 2002 our first official services were held in the Theophany temple.
Truly a number of miracles!
The iconostasis of our new temple was done by a master carver in Bulgaria, entirely from walnut. Encho Avromov is our resident iconographer, working in traditional egg-tempora to match the style of icons to the 12th century architecture. The “frescoes” on the walls of the temple are by another local iconographer and artist, Michael Greer, after the pattern and style of Dionysiou Monastery on Mt. Athos.