St Symeon the New Theologian Orthodox Church

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St Symeon's 2015 building
Interior of the dome at the new building
St Symeon's 1987 building

St Symeon the New Theologian Orthodox Church is an Orthodox Christian church located at 3101 Clairmont Avenue in Birmingham's Lakeview district. The parish was founded in 1977 as part of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America. Many of the founding members were second and third generation Greek and Russian-Americans, while many others converted to Orthodoxy. Therefore the church has always conducted most of its services in the English language. The parish is dedicated to St Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), a former abbot of St Mammas in Constantinople, Turkey. The parish's rector is Archpriest Alexander Fecanin.

The church met at member's homes, in rented meeting rooms, and in borrowed church houses until it purchased its own building in 1987. Immediately before moving to Clairmont it was located in the former building of Avondale Wesleyan Church at 3800 3rd Avenue South. The installation in 1991 of a large mosaic Theotokos of St Theodore under the overhang of the north entrance wall made the church a landmark. The mosaic was made in Italy as a copy of the original at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery. It was commissioned by Frank Kulik and Vickie Kulik and donated to the parish. The larger icons on the church's iconostasis (icon screen) were painted in the Byzantine style by Elias Katsaros, a traditional artist living in Huntsville.

In February 2013 the Birmingham Design Review Committee approved plans for a new $900,000 building for the church on the same site. Dan Fritts of LIVE Design Group presented the plans and Francis Bryant & Sons completed the construction in early February 2015. Less than a week later a drunk driver crashed her SUV through the front wall of the old building, barely missing the mosaic. The incident delayed plans to convert the former building into a fellowship hall.

In Summer 2015 the Theotokos mosaic was relocated to the north transept wall of the new building. The icon screen in the new church features the same icons painted by Katsaros for the earlier building along with many others painted by Dr. Alin and Smaranda Trifa. Dr. Trifa is professor of liturgical art at the Orthodox seminary in Cluj, Romania. The iconography on the walls was completed in several stages through 2023.


  • Diel, Stan (February 27, 2013) "Birmingham Design Review Committee approves new church building in Lakeview, demolition of Red Mountain homes." The Birmingham News
  • Stein, Kelsey (February 8, 2015) "Car crashes into St. Symeon Orthodox Church, a week after congregation moves to new building." The Birmingham News
  • "Self-Tour Guide: St. Symeon Food & Culture Faith" (2021) leaflet from church.

External links