Ispas - Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Ascension

150 km. north-east of Edmonton or 30 km. north-west of Two Hills

Two Hills County (NE-34-56-13-W4)

Coordinates: 53.88938333, -111.8373

Google Map of 53.88938333, -111.8373

The name Ispas is derived from the name of the village Ispas, Vyzhnytskyi raion, Chernivetska oblast, Ukraine - about 65 kilometres west of the city of Chernivtsi (See Map).

On July 2, 1903; 17 families left their native village of Ispas to migrate to Canada. By the fall of 1903, these families settled in a district 30 kilometres northwest of the present town of Two Hills. (1)

The settlement became known by the name of their native village, Ispas. The same name Ispas was was given later to their post office, school and church.

In 1906, the Federal Government reserved a 10-acre site for a cemetery. This site is the current location for the Parish's current cemetery and church. (2)

Two years later (1908), the settlers organized a parish and named it the 'Orthodox Greek Catholic Church Congregation of Holy Ascension'. The first church services were held at homes of the members and officiated by priests from the Russian Mission. Russian Orthodox missionaries had arrived in Canada during the early 1900s. They were actively servicing the settlements around Shandro, Desjarlais, and Wahstao.

In 1912, Father Jacob Korchinsky (a Russian missionary) consecrated the land for a frame lumber church. As the membership grew, it became necessary to build an addition to the log church. Later a porch was also added to the building. For 48 years the Ispas church was under the jurisdiction of the Russo Greek Orthodox Mission. In 1960 the congregation terminated its affiliation with the Mission and joined the Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of Canada. (3)

In 1967 it purchased the Ispas School, a one (1) kilometre east of the Ispas church, from the County of Two Hills. Two years later, the parish obtained title to the school and its 3-acre site to be used for a church hall.

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Oriented on the east-west axis, the church is designed on a central longitudinal plan. It is a tripartite structure with a slightly larger central unit. There is a small central dome and two small cupolas located over the narthex and sanctuary. In addition, there are rounded windows on the north and south sides of the building.

The entrance is located on the southwest corner of the building. One enters the narthex through a small vestibule. The narthex leads into the nave and a chancel on a slightly raised floor. Within the chancel there is the sanctuary that surrounds the altar. There is a 2-tiered iconostasis. However, the iconostasis is not complete.

It seems that the interior walls and dome ceiling were once decorated with some form of stencilling. However, lot of it has been painted over. In 1930, Peter Lipinski did some icons for the iconostasis. In addition, there are quite a few original religious artefacts (crosses, processional banners, candle holders, etc..) from that period.

A wooden bell tower is located by the church. The site is surrounded by rolling arable land.