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Cross Raised on Ashland Property - 07/25/16

By the grace of God, on July 13, 2016, Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church in Ashland, OR held the official Service for the Planting the Life-giving Cross and the placing of the Cornerstone on their new church property. This was the official commencement of their planned building project of a new temple on South Valley View Road in Ashland, OR.

The service was presided over by His Eminence Archbishop BENJAMIN of San Francisco and the West, assisted by Priest Andreas Blom (Rector of Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church), Hieromonk Damascene (Abbot of St. Herman's Monastery, Platina, CA), Archpriest Isaac Skidmore (Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church), Priest Daniel Mackay (Rector of St. John the Wonderworker Serbian Orthodox Church, Eugene, OR), Priest Ian Shipley (Rector of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church, Chico, CA), Priest Theodor Svane (St. Seraphim Orthodox Church, Santa Rosa, CA) and Deacon David Greenfield (Ss. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church, Chico, CA), as well as many faithful from Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church and other visitors.

The parish was able to buy 7 acres of beautiful property right by I-5 in 2014, and paid it off in its entirety on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt in 2016. Currently, the parish is in the process of raising $150,000 for the Design Development Phase of their building project, with the hope of breaking ground in the near future."  

History Leaves its Traces: “A Hunger for Faith” - 07/22/16

At various times during my time here in Gagauzia I have posted short essays about the situation of Orthodox Christianity here. This time I would like to do something different, because a friend of mine has written something that I myself would not have been able to write, because she wrote it from the perspective of a young woman who grew up here, being born just as the Soviet Union was breaking up and the churches and monasteries were being reopened, but her parents and grandparents had grown up during the Soviet period, exposed to the Communist propaganda against Christianity and with little knowledge of the Church or even interest in it. She writes about the struggle that can occur within the family when people of her age want to return to their Orthodox roots.  -Father Cosmas

by Kristina Kochan  (tr. into English by Monk Cosmas Shartz)

As we know, in our lands there was terrible hunger in the years 1946 and 1947. At that time there was a hunger for food, but now there is a hunger which has lasted longer — a hunger for faith. One hunger resembles the other. Both began in the time of the Soviet Union and the Soviets are responsible for both. In the hunger for food our bodies die, but in the hunger for faith our souls die and we become like zombies, like dead people walking around but inside, there is death in our souls and we don’t know it.

Reflections on Navigator/Orthodox Serbia Trip - 07/12/16

From June 5-August 1, a number of young people from our diocese went on the "Navigator/Orthodox Serbia Mission trip," where they spent time visiting areas throughout Serbia, helping others learn about Orthodoxy and exposing them to young people from the West.

A blog written by the young members of that team has been uploaded with their thoughts and impressions. The bloggers are:

Mariah (Bozeman, MT)
J.P. (Colorado Springs, CO)
Mara (Colorado Springs, CO)
Matti (Calhan, CO)
Seraphim (Santa Rosa, CA)
John (Colorado Springs)

You can read their thoughts and impressions, and see some pictures from their trip here.

REFLECTION - Fort Ross Pilgrimage - 07/06/16

Matushka Sophia Sokolov

On Monday, July 4th, faithful pilgrims from throughout the Bay Area converged upon Fort Ross State Historic Park in Jenner, California, for divine worship, memorial, and a festive picnic lunch. His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, presided over the Divine Liturgy and was joined by numerous clergy and faithful from Santa Rosa, Calistoga, San Francisco, Berkeley, and beyond.

The morning, like many in West Marin, began under a blanket of fog with a crisp breeze nipping at our noses. We made our way through the gates of the fort and up to the chapel, a rather simple structure built from wooden boards. The original chapel was built in the mid-1820s and is heralded as the first Russian Orthodox structure in North America, outside of Alaska. In 1836, Father Ioann Veniaminov, who later became Bishop Innocent, the first hierarch in our land, visited the California settlement and conducted sacraments of marriage, baptism, and other religious services. In 1977, he was glorified as one of our first saints. How fitting it is that this year’s pilgrimage fell the day after the Sunday we commemorate our North American Saints!

"My chains, the bond of our unity" - 06/30/16

This letter was received from Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo who, as you may know, is the brother of Patriarch John X of Antioch and who was abducted in 2013. I encourage our clergy and faithful to continue to pray for him. That he is still alive after all this time and the drama that is unfolding in Syria is truly a miracle of prayer and God's mercy. But, I think his letter is moving and worthy of reading by a wider audience.  -Archbishop Benjamin


Buenos Aires, June 24, 2016

An open letter from
addressed to all the Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church on the Feast of the Holy Spirit

My chains, the bond of our unity

“Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you… may become what I am, except for these chains”
(Acts 26:29)

Your Holinesses, Your Beatitudes, Your Eminences and Your Graces,Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church,
My Fathers and brothers in the grace of the episcopate,“Apostles of Christ” and “Servants” of the people of God in all the oikoumene,

This year, an inexpressible joy flooded my heart on the Feast of Pentecost, because of the Holy Spirit who unites us, in a visible and invisible way, in the apostolic ministry that the Lord bestowed on us.

Pacific Northwest Summer Camp - 06/29/16

More than 80 children and volunteer staff had a great time at our annual Pacific Northwest Deanery Summer Youth Camp, June 20-23rd. Located on Raft Island near Gig Harbor, All Saints Camp is quiet, peaceful and leafy, surrounded by water.

Fr. Barnabas and Pda Lela Powell organize and lead the camp drawing on their many years of experience with the Rocky Mountain Youth Camp in Colorado. Each day follows a natural pattern of prayer, meals, spiritual instruction and activities for youth according to their various ages, with campfire singing and skits in the evening. After the younger campers head to bed in their various cabins, the teens have time around the campfire to ask clergy any questions they may have. It is amazing how quiet the camp became after that, the healthfully tired campers ready to hit the sack, especially by their second night.

Orthodox Alaska Cruise September 2-9! - 06/28/16

With the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, and the support of Bishop David of the historic diocese of Alaska (who will be on board!), a cruise and conference at sea will be held September 2-9, 2017.

Sailing from Seattle and while exploring Juneau, Sitka, Glacier Bay, and other sites on the Holland America Westerdam, conference participants will attend a wide variety of daily lectures, services and workshops offered by Fr Michael Oleksa, a recognized authority on Alaskan history and spirituality, and Fr Laurent Cleenewerck, Rector of Saint Innocent Church, Eureka, CA, who is also an academic and author.

Detailed information, including rates and agenda, may be found at here (

 Only 50 “seats” are available for this event, and registrations are accepted now on a first-come, first-serve basis.


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