ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE TO FORT ROSS 2019 - 07/06/19
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin led the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of the West in the annual (since 1925) pilgrimage to Fort Ross on the 4th of July. It was a joy to be with brothers and sisters in Christ united in thanksgiving on a beautiful day. Fort Ross is now a state historic park and is the site of the first Orthodox house of prayer south of Alaska.
(Photographs courtesy of Matushka Sophia Sokolov)
Complete photo album here:
Tacoma Parish Burns Mortgage - 06/21/19
Holy Resurrection church, Tacoma, Washington was blessed to have His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin visit the weekend of June 1st & 2nd. At Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, His Eminence tonsured Theodore Kvamme a Reader, awarded the Jeweled Cross to Fr. Joseph Velez and the Gold Cross to Fr. James McKee. At the conclusion of Liturgy His Eminence, assisted by Fr. John Pierce, Rector, and Parish Council Senior Warden, John Hamre, burned the mortgage to the Tacoma property. At the community meal that followed Divine Liturgy, the parish honored Archbishop Benjamin on his 65th birthday.
Founded in 1896 in the town of Wilkeson in the Cascade foothills near Mount Rainier, the parish moved to the outskirts of Tacoma in 1996. The parish owns ten acres there, utilizing a "temporary" church building that can hold 160 people, a small fellowship hall and classrooms. The local county has given the parish the green light to establish a cemetery. A traditional Orthodox Temple and larger parish hall are also part of the future plans. The parish maintains its original Holy Trinity Temple in Wilkeson, which was built in 1900 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Archbishop John Shahovskoy 1902-1989 - 06/09/19
Thursday May 30, 2019 marked the 30th Anniversary of the repose of the outstanding hierarch and former archpastor of our Diocese of the West – Archbishop John Shahovskoy. Archbishop John served as the Archbishop of San Francisco for nearly three decades, from 1950-1973, and again, after being called out of retirement, from 1975-1979. A prolific writer and poet, Archbishop John also authored a well-known treatise on the priesthood – The Orthodox Pastor, which remains a guide and inspiration for seminarians and clergy to this day. Most of his publications appeared in Russian and remain untranslated into English.
Commemorating the event, a memorial Liturgy was held in Christ the Savior Church in San Francisco, a parish founded by Archbishop John as well as his former residence. Priest Philip Halliwell and Priest Timothy Winegar concelebrated. Fr. Philip shared a sermon of Archbishop John, giving all a sense of his poetic and vivid preaching style. Fr. Timothy also shared about how Archbishop John’s monastic cross, which he received on Mt. Athos and which contains a relic of the True Cross and relics of several saints, came to reside at Elevation of the Holy Cross parish in Sacramento, a parish also founded with the blessing of Archbishop John. Following Liturgy, the faithful shared a meal together in the parish hall.
The day’s Gospel reading was fitting for this true hierarch and shepherd: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (Jn. 10:1-4)
May his memory be eternal!
Below is a brief life of Archbishop John that appeared in The Orthodox Church journal following his repose in 1989.
Spokane Mission Highlighted - 06/05/19
Spokane, Washington - from Staff Reports
St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church in north Spokane will celebrate its first Pascha, or Easter, service at midnight Saturday, one week after the Western Christian Easter. The church was formed in the summer 2018 and meets at Valley Prairie Hall, 8216 E. Big Meadows Road, in Chattaroy. The goal of the Church is to make Orthodox Christianity accessible to residents in north Spokane, the Rev. Timothy Wilkinson said in a news release. While the membership of the new church is small, it is diverse.
“We have people from various religious backgrounds who have become Orthodox, or are on the journey to becoming Orthodox, including Roman Catholics, Calvinists and Pentecostals,” Wilkinson said in the release. “One member was a pastor in the Assemblies of God denomination for 30 years and became interested in Orthodoxy after studying Church history and reading about early church fathers like St. Athanasius and St. Basil. Many people read their way into the Orthodox Church,” Wilkinson said.
Diocesan Pilgrimage to Spruce Island and Alaska - 05/17/19
Join your fellow Orthodox believers in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of St. Herman of Alaska’s gloriﬁcation and the 50th Anniversary of the OCA’s autocephaly in 2020. There will be weekly trips to Alaska over the summer of 2020 sponsored by each of the dioceses of the OCA. The Diocese of the West will sponsor their trip July 8-14, 2020. This will be a special trip for all Orthodox believers. Sign up early and reserve your space. Final cost to be determined.
Core package includes:
* 7 days/6 nights accommodation
* Round trip air fare to Kodiak from Anchorage
* Excursion to Spruce Island
* Touring and sightseeing as listed in itinerary
For terms and conditions, passports, visas, baggage fees, air, additional taxes and travel insurance information visit https://www.culturallycreativetravel.com/pilgrimage-to-alaska-2020/or email firstname.lastname@example.org 713-688-6793.
Download the flyer here.
PASCHAL MESSAGE OF HIS EMINENCE, ARCHBISHOP BENJAMIN - 04/24/19
“By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered You in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the West
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
There is an old saying, “Be careful what you pray for — you might just get it.” The powerful words of our father among the Saints, St. John Chrysostom, read every year during the Paschal Matins, brings us to a very clear image of that saying. “Hell” is almost personified in his sermon. “It was embittered, it was abolished, it was mocked, it was slain, it was overthrown, it was fettered in chains.”
The stichera of Holy Saturday sings out again and again, “Hell cries out groaning…” Why? Because “it took a body, and met God face to face.” The groaning is hell being destroyed from within. The demons saw the crucifixion and rejoiced, because the victory was finally theirs. But they prayed for the wrong thing — and got it. When hell swallowed the Savior, it choked. The corpse — for that is exactly what hell is — is bloated and finally explodes. The gates are smashed, locks are annihilated, chains are broken, doors are demolished and Adam and Eve are lifted out of Sheol along with all of their descendants. They (we) are restored to Paradise.
We live in the Resurrected Christ and His Body — the Church. But we still reside in a fallen and broken creation. The Paradise that Christ came to restore for us is tasted in the Church, but its fulness is yet to be realized and only in the Kingdom of Heaven. Our world is full still of darkness and hatred (see Sri Lanka just a few days ago on Western Easter), our own society seems more and more polarized — politically, socially and morally. And yet, in the midst of this darkness, we see those who are searching for the Answer.
We have nothing to give them but the Risen Christ. But what else is needed? Redemption has been offered to all of creation, renewal is there for the taking, Light is shining for those who would see it, Life has pierced the armor of Death and destroyed it. If each and every one of us simply embrace the Risen Christ with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our soul, thereby living the resurrected life, multitudes will be saved around us.
The Risen Christ is indeed all we have to give, but when given, we know the answers to the questions: O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Yours in the risen Christ,
Archbishop of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West