St. Innocent of Irkutsk Orthodox Church is a small, English-speaking, multi-ethnic and multi-racial, new-calendar parish under the Patriarchate of Moscow, comprised of families (many with young children) and single people spanning four generations, plus a woman’s monastic community, dedicated to St. Innocent of Alaska, which was established in 2003. The parish was founded in 1967 in Redford Township, on the western edge of Detroit, adjacent to Dearborn and Livonia. The parishioners are of many different traditional ethnic Orthodox backgrounds, including Carpatho-Russian (Russyn), Russian, Ukrainian, Galician, Greek, Eretrian — and at times has also included people of Romanian, Arab, Chaldean, Serbian and Macedonian heritage— plus numerous converts of various Western European and African-American backgrounds.
Founded on 3 March 1967 by the Rev. Fr. Igor Burdikoff and a group of sixteen families, with the blessings and support of His Eminence, Metropolitan John (Wendland), St. Innocent of Irkutsk Church was established as the first all-English-speaking parish in the Metropolitan Detroit area. A church with an attached rectory building owned by a Baptist congregation was purchased, and transformed into an Orthodox Temple.
Five years after the founding of the parish, during the pastorate of Rev. Fr. Mark Odell, icons for the iconostasis were written by Mrs. Katherine Ulanowski, a member of the parish, which were blessed by His Excellency Bishop Makary on 5 February 1972. On 15 June 1974, when Rev. Fr. Vladimir Demschuk was Pastor, Bishop Makary blessed four additional icons by the same iconographer.
In 1980 fire destroyed the St. Thomas Albanian Orthodox Church and St. Innocent parish accepted them to worship together at St. Innocent. On 4 October 1981 an arson fire destroyed much of the St. Innocent Church. Under the leadership of the V. Rev. Archpriest Basil Karpelenia, the pastor at that time, and with characteristic determination and hard work by the dedicated parishioners, the church was rebuilt. A new iconostasis and altar table were installed, which were consecrated on 12 March 1983 by His Excellency Bishop Clement.