In the fall of 2007 the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) sought to increase its presence in the south Charlotte metropolitan area. Plans were made to plant a church in Rock Hill. Fr. Paul Coats, a graduate of St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in New York and an ordained priest in the OCA, was attached to Nativity of the Holy Virgin OCA parish in Charlotte and moved with his family to Rock Hill in 2008, in anticipation of establishing a future mission church there. This came to fruition in the summer of 2010, when His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, hierarch of the OCA at the time, gave his blessing to hold services as the Rock Hill Mission, OCA, under the auspices of the OCA Diocese of the South. Fr. Paul served St. Anthony mission while holding a secular job.
Nativity of the Holy Virgin OCA parish in Charlotte actively contributed to the mission’s growth. Mission members gratefully accepted the assistance of the Knights of Columbus and the Rock Hill Oratory, who extended hospitality and granted use of their building at 3075 Long Meadow Road, through a lease agreement. In November 2012 the church was granted full mission status and its name, St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church, by His Eminence Archbishop Nikon, Bishop of Boston, who was Locum tenens of the Diocese of the South at that time.
In 2013 the mission purchased the Long Meadow road building from the Knights of Columbus and undertook building renovations to provide a suitable altar space and necessary hallways to improve usability. Additional improvements were later made to the kitchen, interior, and windows. At the same time Fr. Adam Horstman and his family were assigned to the parish following his graduation from seminary in the summer of 2013, and served for five years. The church continued to grow. The house next door was purchased in 2018 and is being renovated for fellowship and classroom space.
In July of 2019 Fr. Mikel Bock was assigned as Priest-in-Charge by Archbishop Alexander of the Diocese of the South. Fr. Paul continues to serve as Assistant Priest.
By God’s grace the parish has grown from just a few people in 2010 to its current combined membership of about 30 families and single adults, and an average attendance of about 40.
St. Anthony’s is actively serving its members and the community through prayer and sacramental services, communal meals, Bible study and fellowship groups, a budding church school, regular charitable contributions to the Pilgrim’s Inn, regular volunteering at Project Hope, and the support and sending of Orthodox Christian missionaries.