The first stone in the foundation of what was eventually to become St. James Orthodox Church was the bond of Christian fellowship and love between the fellow Orthodox Christian believers and long time Fort Collins residents Vera Corey and Peggy and Joseph Yadlowski. Vera, Peggy, and Joe were life long Orthodox Christians who had been raised in the Russian Orthodox tradition. Indeed, Vera was literally raised in the Orthodox Church as her father was an Orthodox priest: The Very Rev. Peter Karel. The friendship between Vera, Peggy, and Joe grew as they traveled together into Denver to attend Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, a parish of the Orthodox Church in America.
Eventually, Vera and the Yadlowskis were approached by their parish priest of the time, the Very Reverend Joseph Hirsch, as well as the new Orthodox priest serving a new Orthodox community in the Boulder area, the Reverend David Mustian, asking them to consider assisting in the formation of an Orthodox community in the Fort Collins area. While continuing to commute into Denver for their own worship, Vera, Peggy, and Joe, with the help of Fr. David, began to gather in their homes and, eventually, to begin a series of Bible studies. With God's blessing, these meetings began to draw other attendees and a small community began to develop.
Eventually this small community of fellow Orthodox believers was established as a mission parish of St. Luke Orthodox Church-St. Lukes being the home parish of Fr. David Mustian in Boulder. On August 1, 1995, God sent the Orthodox Mission in the Fort Collins area its first pastor: the Deacon Mark Cranor. At that same time, the community was placed under the patronage of St. James the-brother-of-the-Lord and became known as St. James Orthodox Mission. Dn. Mark was ordained to the holy priesthood in June of 1996 and became the first priest of the St. James community.
At the same time as the arrival of its first pastor, the community of St. James Church also moved into its first permanent worship space: the chapel in Wellington, CO. This chapel was converted from a stand alone garage. It was tiny but it was surely a significant transition for the community. The chapel gave yet another sign and assurance of God's blessings to the community. From the chapel, the community moved into its first church building. On March 4th, 1997, the mission parish of St. James purchased, renovated, and moved into the property at 7920 3rd Street in Wellington, Colorado.
In March 1999, the parish developed in yet another direction with addition of another clergy member. The Reverend Dn. John Timby and his family moved to Fort Collins and began serving the Lord and His community of St. James. The parish now had two permanent pastors serving and leading it.
The community continued to grow. In this phase, the Good Lord led the family of St. James parish to find a yet larger church home. On April 12, 2002, that leading became explicit through the purchase of the present facilities: a building and 14 acres of property at 2610 S.E. Frontage Road in Fort Collins Colorado. This building was renovated into an Orthodox temple, complete with hand crafted domes surmounted by Orthodox crosses. In addition to blessing the community of St. James parish, these facilities also present a visual witness of the Orthodox Christian faith to every person who travels on Interstate 25 through Fort Collins, Colorado.
In August of 2006, Fr. Mark Cranor left the parish of St. James. In September 2006, our Bishop BASIL sent and assigned the Rev. Mark Haas as the next priest and pastor of the St. James community. Fr. Mark continues today as our pastor and father in Christ.