A Brief Parish History St Justin Martyr began in November 1987 with the Area Dean of that time, Fr John Ealy traveling up monthly to serve Vespers on Sunday evening at St George Antiochian Orthodox Church. A weekly ad in the Florida Times Union was the primary method of getting the message out. Most of the time we were graciously hosted by St George Antiochian Church at its former location on Ashland Street. A wonderful core group developed and out of this group came the founders of St Justin Martyr.
Fr Ted Pisarchuk graduated St Vladimir’s Seminary in May 1994 and was assigned to St Justin Martyr. At that time St Justin Martyr became a recipient of a Church planting grant. On July 17, 1994 we celebrated our first Divine Liturgy in a classroom at the University of North Florida with an attendance of 35. One mid-August attendance was down to 17 and we built up from there. After much searching, by God’s grace we moved to the now former Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church on Stacey Rd and were able to worship on Sunday mornings because they did not have a priest. The church was a perfect fit. It looked Orthodox, had an iconostasis, and plenty of room for us to grow. We worshipped there for 2 ½ years. Then the building was offered for sale. We tried to purchase it, but we did not have the finances and another church community purchased it. Within a month we were homeless. By God’s grace, and we believe, the intercessions of the Mother of God, we found refuge in the Mother of God of Zorno Syrian Orthodox Church that did not have a priest. After 6 months we found a demographically perfect 3800 sf office warehouse that we were able to convert into a church and fellowship hall. We were there for seven years.
On May 21, 2000 we had a special parish meeting and launched a $100,000 Property Acquisition Campaign. Then after much prayer and searching in May 2001 we found our present ten-acre parcel. It was truly a miraculous gift. We purchased what we thought was 6 acres of buildable land and 4 acres of wetlands for $245,000, the cost of 6 acres of residential land. Upon investigation it turned out to be 8 acres of buildable land. We got 8 acres of commercial land for the cost of 6 acres. Within days and weeks of our purchase a new interchange with I-95 was announced 2.5 miles south of the property. Within a few more weeks a development, a shopping center, and a hospital were announced for the area. Before we closed on the land it appreciated to $440,000. Over the next year we worked hard to develop a set of architectural drawings. It was bid out in August 2002 and came in way over budget. We went “back to the drawing board” using a new architect. Our blueprint this time was much improved. Our construction contract was cost plus and after some negotiations, holding off on certain items and with a timely $100,000 dollar loan from Archbishop DMITRI we began construction.
There was much volunteer labor from the community: building the stage and walls for the altar, all the painting, laying sod, and installing fellowship hall flooring. In thanksgiving to God, we celebrated our first Divine Liturgy on St Augustine Rd on April 10th, 2005, St John Climacus. Immediately after construction we began clearing a portion of our property for St Justin Cemetery. On May 14, 2005 Vladyka DMITRI consecrated the cemetery and on May 15, 2005 the Temple was consecrated.