The origins of St. Euphrosynia Church, named after St. Euphrosynia or (Euphrosyne of Polatsk), who lived from 1110 to 1173, and is considered the patron saint of Belarus, can be traced back to the Displaced Persons camps of post-war Germany. The horrors of Soviet repression forced Belarusian Orthodox clergy and believers to flee the onslaught of the Red Army and seek refuge in the west. Before coming to the United States, parishioners came together and worshiped in Regensburg, Michelsdorf and Baknang, Germany. Those members who were fortunate enough to be able to immigrate to the United States gravitated towards those towns and cities that held established Belarusian communities, one of those being South River, New Jersey. In 1951, the parish received its charter from the state of New Jersey and a parish council was elected, with Father Mikalaj Lapitzki selected as its first pastor.

Hardly a wealthy parish, this first group of parishioners asked a local church for help in celebrating their first worship services. The Conklin Methodist Church on Jackson and Gordon Streets under Rev. G. Nelson Moore allowed our church to use the second floor of their building for our first services. Thanks to their generosity and shared faith, the parish was able to save funds in order to purchase or build a permanent home. At this time, the Church Council also requested and was granted membership of St. Euphrosynia Church into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

In 1953, we were able to purchase a former Jewish Synagogue on Whitehead Avenue and convert it into an Orthodox Christian Church. Also, at about this same time, the Church acquired a piece of land on Hillside Avenue for use as a parish cemetery. In the following years, our church experienced a steady growth in the number of parishioners and it became clear that it was outgrowing the capacity of the small church on Whitehead Avenue. Through the hard work and perseverance of Rev. Lapitzki and the Parish Council over several years, the Borough of South River was convinced to sell the church a plot of vacant land at the south end of Whitehead Avenue. The plan was to build a new church, parish hall and rectory.

Through the hard work of many volunteers and the generosity of its parishioners, the project slowly took shape. The contributions, in terms of dollars and physical labor are too many to mention in this short history. We today, however, owe a great debt of gratitude to our Lord and those far-sighted people who worked so hard to bring a beautiful dream to fruition. 

  • Vitali Cierpicki, History, building of Belarus Greek Orthodox Church of St. Euphrosynia in South River, NJ (South River, N.J.: Belarussain Press, 1999). "25th anniversary of the new Church of St. Euphrosynia of Polotsk in South River". 
  • St. Euphrosynia Byelorussian Orthodox Church, 1950-1975. Pamëiìa︡tnaëi︠ìa︡ kniha, 1950-1975. (South River, N.J.: Byelorussian Press, [1975])