Congratulations to those celebrating their Namesdays*:
December 5 – Cecilia Montano
December 6 – Alexander Litvinenko
December 7 – Katherine Huhalov, Katherine Krassovsky, Katherine Lerke, Katherine Logvy, Katherine Poluektov, Katherine Ramish, and Katherine Stewart
December 9 – George Huhalov and George Shliapnikoff
December 13 – Andrei Kochergin and Andrei Mogilev
December 19 – Nicholas Aaron, Nicholas Eldimir, Nicholas Klimenko, Nicholas Litvinenko, Nicholas Newton, Nicholas Picoulin, and Nicholas Protopopoff Jr.
December 22 – Anna Judd
December 27 – David Montano
January 6 – Eugenia Riccard
January 9 – Steven Montano
January 10 – Joseph Handelih
January 25 – Tatiana Khlopoff, Tatiana Hidchenko, Tatiana McWethy, Tatiana Metlenko, Tatiana Nigodoff, Tatiana Pavlow, Tatiana Schneider, Tatiana Shliapnikoff, and Tatiana Volhontseff
January 27 – Nina Jaure, Nina Kardashiantz, Nina Russo, and Nina Shikaloff
January 31 – Fr. Deacon Athanasius Ferguson
May God grant them all Many Years!
*Fr. Alexander asks that you please notify him if we have missed anyone’s name’s day in our lists.
The Orthodox Faith Is Nothing
Without Transformation of Life
If your spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions but does nothing to bring about real change, you have gained nothing. Too many people think that as long as they keep the fasting rules, do their prayers, and attend the services, they are good Orthodox Christians. Yet if there is no love, no charity, and forgiveness of others, and your life is filled with gossip and judgment, your Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing. Christ condemned the Pharisees not because they kept the law and attended to the traditions of the Jewish faith but because they did so while filled with pride and arrogance. Without sincere repentance and holiness of life, their encounter with God led to an emptiness of heart.
Because our Orthodox faith is one of tradition and liturgical structure, it is easy to fall into the trap of being nothing more than a Pharisee. Being strict in one’s observance of Orthodox practices can easily lead to pride and arrogance. If you find yourself feeling better than others and proud of your piety, you have gained absolutely nothing. The external practice of the Orthodox Christian faith without heartfelt humility and repentance leads down the road of spiritual ruin.
The Church is the hospital of the soul, but healing can come only if we put effort into it. If your doctor prescribes a medication for your condition but you fail to follow your doctor’s orders, you will not get well. The Church has all that you need for spiritual transformation, but healing comes only if you cooperate with the healing process. The goal is holiness (wholeness) and is the direct result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When you do this, Christ changes you. If you simply go through the motions of your Orthodox faith, you are no better off than the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.
With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon, All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
Vashon Island, Washington
Starosta / Warden’s Corner
We had a very successful Christmas Bazaar this year on November 7 and 8 that turned out to be one of the best to date. We tried some new things in the way of streamlining the food process, with a great deal of success. New tents were purchased for the outside, one for the token booth, and in the rear of the hall was a huge 20 × 40-foot tent that housed the bar and zakuski station, with tables for seating. Many thanks go to those who donated the token booth tent and the large tent. The Sisterhood did an outstanding job with the food, which was absolutely delicious, consisting of traditional Russian, Eritrean, and Palestinian fare (kabobs and sweets) along with Sonja Schluter’s chocolates. Many thanks go out to all who were involved in the food preparation and sales.
The Bazaar items included new merchandise that Olga Sokolova and Elaine (Lolia) Avdienko purchased on their recent trips to Russia, along with Larissa Krassovsky’s jewelry and outside mall, and these all did exceptionally well. Lolia Avdienko did a beautiful job of decorating the hall with the assistance of Anya Krassovsky. The stage had a beautiful new 10 × 16-foot mural as a backdrop that was graciously donated by an anonymous donor (see the feature below).
Thank you to all who helped unload the containers for the setup and those that helped put everything away. A big thanks goes to Misha Mogilev and Vanya Poluektov for their help in erecting and dismantling the tents and with the heavy lifting.
✠ ✠ ✠
We recently had our first meeting with Sonoma County officials regarding the cemetery project. It was a good first meeting that was informal, so we could easily exchange ideas and see what we could expect in the future. The county is basically onboard with the cemetery project as a whole; however, we have to conduct additional environmental studies that meet their requirements. They outlined the steps we have to take in the permitting process, so we know what we are up against. Fortunately, we have very qualified people on our team and excellent consultants to guide us.
We have, once again, pulled off another successful Christmas Bazaar, so thank you one and all! Thank you Larissa Krassovsky and the Russian American Women’s League (RAWL) for your continued generous efforts and donation of all the proceeds from the Bazaar sales. We were very proud of our Russian, Palestinian, and Eritrean food selections, and all was delicious and appreciated by those who came to support our Bazaar. Thank you to all who were involved in the food preparation, headed by Zoya Litvinenko, and to the bakers of a wonderful array of desserts headed by Natasha Tatsy. The hall was quite festive thanks to Olga Sokoloff, Elaine Avdienko, and their helpers, and there was such a good turnout. We had many suggestions and ideas for future Bazaars during our follow-up Sisterhood meeting on Sunday November 15.
We also had a sumptuous Thanksgiving lunch on Sunday November 22, organized by Anna Ferguson and Diana Handelih. By the end, everyone was stuffed!
Thank you to all who made these occasions a success and for your participation in the Sunday lunches, which with your help, will continue to happen. If you would like to help out with future lunches, please contact our Lunch Schedulers. We still need cooks to sign up for December 27:
For our special feast day of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple (Friday, December 4), a wonderful lunch was hosted by Kapa Huhalov and Zoya Litvinenko. The next major feast day will be Christmas, the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Thursday, January 7. Please look for the signup sheet for food items to bring to our Christmas trapeza.
We also will need people to help decorate the Church and Hall and to donate toward and put together the Christmas Baskets for our ailing members and shut-ins, who could always use our prayers or a cheerful visit or phone call. For more information, please contact our Outreach Liaison, Anna Judd at 707-823-2372 or email@example.com.
Our next Sisterhood meeting date is to be announced. Our next pelmeni-making session will be held on Thursday December 10 at 9:00 a.m. God bless!
—Nadine Stewart, Head Sister
on behalf of the St. Olga Sisterhood
2015 Christmas Bazaar Wrap-up
The Sisterhood of Sts. Peter and Paul Church presented its annual pre–Christmas Bazaar on Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9, this year. The sun shone brightly on the golden domes of our spiritual home and provided a stunning palette of autumn colors, reflecting on the falling leaves of our tree-lined property.
People began streaming in even before we officially opened, some of whom participated in the prayer and blessing that Father Alexander conducts right before the start of the Bazaar. And it appeared that God blessed the work of His servants with an unprecedented number of visitors, much activity at the various food booths, and great interest at the tables where small treasures were sold for giving at Christmas.
The Bazaar was the culmination of several weeks of preparation by the busy sisters and brothers of our church. Piroshki were made by the hundreds, pelmeni by the thousands, and borsch by the potful, augmented by beef Stroganoff, vegetable and meat pies (piroghi), lamb kabobs, an endless variety of desserts and sweets, and many other made-from-scratch products. In addition to the sweet smell of country air, the scent of exotic spices from the Eritrean food table, and the mouth-watering aroma of barbecued lamb kabobs grilling to order beckoned visitors to stop and try them. Our Russian menu items sold briskly, and the Palestinian and Eritrean specialties were also very popular. We heard many compliments on the quality and taste of the food, and the friendliness and welcome our volunteers extended to all comers.
This year, we tried a different procedure for handling money: A tent was set up outside the church for the sale of tokens, to free the food handlers from making cash transactions. As is the case with all new procedures, we experienced a few snafus at the outset, but we found ways of ironing them out by the end of Saturday and will continue to refine the system. We hope that no one was inconvenienced by this change. We value your feedback and hope that if we fell short of your expectations, you will be kind enough to let us know so that we may improve our service to you!
Our friends, the Sisters from Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, again joined us with their offerings of goodies, such as flavored honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and religious items, and they brought us cases of fresh fruit harvested on their own property to give away to our visitors. The brightly colored persimmons were a big hit, and the donations people left for these gifts of the earth were gratefully accepted.
We encountered many friends, old and new, and caught up with the events in their lives since we last saw one another. Some shared glad tidings, such as the birth of children and grandchildren, while some spoke of sad events, such as one gentleman who recounted the death of his lovely wife of fifty-five-plus years. We reminisced about her and offered a private prayer for the repose of her bright soul.
Since we at the token table were too busy to leave our post, we relied on reports that the inside of the hall was buzzing with conversation, laughter, and camaraderie. The gift tables displayed new handicrafts brought from Russia by Olga Sokoloff and Elaine Avdienko, crystal pieces donated by various members, and a vast collection of jewelry donated and organized by our own “Energizer bunny,” the indefatigable and indomitable Larissa Krassovsky, mother of Fr. Alexander. In addition, many Russian pieces were donated by the estate of the late Inga Alexeeff, as she and her late husband Victor had collected many items over the years on their trips to the ancestral land of his birth. We extend our deepest thanks for all the generous contributions of the many donors.
Fr. Alexander was busy as usual conducting docent tours of our church, and many who came for the first time left with a deeper appreciation of our faith and the beauty of our church, its furnishings, and iconography. We continue to work on the beautification of God’s house on this small piece of land we call home with plans to continue the rospice (holy images and decorations on the walls of the church) this coming year, as our resources allow. The cost of these additions is high, as is our monthly operating budget, so we extend to all who participated in the success of our Bazaar an enormous “THANK YOU”!
To all the hard workers, planners, organizers, cooks, volunteers, support staff (administration, advertising, accounting, and heavy lifting, cleanup groups), and those who helped put the Bazaar together, we could not have done it without each and every one of you. And to those of our patrons who have returned for so many years and to those who came for the first time, we could not have done it without you either! We give our deepest poklon (bow) and a hearty Eritrean, Palestinian, and Russian thank you to all of you, and we look forward to an even bigger and better Bazaar next year. Spasibo, and God bless!
New Stage Backdrop
Many of you who have attended our Bazaars in the past may have noticed that the stage decorations that form a backdrop for our Bazaar have changed. Our two resident artists, Elaine Avdienko and Olga Sokoloff, have spent countless hours in the past several years lovingly decorating the stage piece-by-carefully-preserved-piece (a tree here, a log house there, a sleigh in the corner). Since such decorations were very time-consuming and labor intensive, a new idea was proposed, of creating a classic Russian winter scene as a backdrop. They proposed and the Council accepted the idea of taking a generic Russian winter scene, enlarging it up to cover the background of the stage, and enhancing it with trees and lights.
The new backdrop was yet another labor of love, which will last us for many years to come. The ladies picked out a small postcard, the Council approved the design, and our Starosta Paul Johnson, along with Yura Sokoloff, shopped around and found a wonderful gentleman—Kris White—who promised and delivered an artful product on which he spent a tremendous amount of time but charged a special discounted rate (as he is a deacon at his own place of worship). The price he charged for the amount of work that went into the backdrop was a godsend. He took a photo of the postcard (~6 × 8"), blew it up to the finished product we saw, and enhanced it with a frame that mirrors the decorative motifs on our walls, working on each pixel to make it as clear as possible, reflecting its true original color. We recommend Kris highly in the event you need some work done and are deeply grateful to him for the excellent workmanship, the speed with which he completed the project, and the courtesy he extended to his fellow Christians. We are already busy figuring out what other work we would like him to complete for us next (funds permitting!).
If that weren’t enough, an anonymous donor stepped forward and underwrote the entire cost of the backdrop, thus saving our church the funds we had approved out of necessity. Thank you to this kind soul for his/her generosity and support of our church!
And many thanks, of course, to Olga and Elaine, and to Paul, Yura, and Kris for doing such a great job of translating an idea into such a handsome reality.
For more information, contact the artist:
Kris White, d/b/a Banners by Kris
P.O. Box 21
Bodega, CA 94922
Annual Nativity Yolka
Our traditional Yolka (Christmas pageant), featuring performances by our school children, is planned for January 9 at 12:00 p.m. Ded’ Moroz will once again appear, bearing podarki (gifts). Please call Olga Saschin at 707-321-3893 to let her know how many children will be attending so they will each have a present. A $5 fee will be required at the event entrance for each gift.
Tax year 2015 is drawing to a close, and the stewardship pledges have mostly been collected, sometimes exceeding our expectations. Please make sure to fulfill your stewardship donation for the year by the end of December. Checks can be submitted in the envelopes provided at the church candle stand or mailed to Sts. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church, 850 St. Olga Ct., Santa Rosa, CA 95407-8077. May God bless you for your support!
General Parish Meeting
The 2015 Annual General Parish Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, February 28, 2016, after the Sunday Liturgy. All stewardships and memberships must be up to date through December 31, 2015, in order to have the right to vote on the very important matters to be presented at that meeting.
Orthodox Community Events
- December 11, Fri., 8:00 p.m., Ukrainian Winter Songs and Carols, led by UC Berkeley's Marika Kuzma. St. Dominic’s Church, 2390 Bush St., San Francisco $20 suggested donation.
- December 13, Sunday, Burlingame Sisterhood presents Gingerbread Faire. $20 per child or adult, which includes a complete gingerbread house with decorations and champagne for the grown-ups. Vendors will sell unique gift items. RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org. 744 El Camino Real, Burlingame, 650-348-9688.
- Divine Liturgy, Thursday, December 17, Great Martyr Barbara, 9:30 am (Hours at 9:00), Our Lady of Kazan Skete, 2735 Victoria Dr., Santa Rosa, 707-542-7798.
- Orthodox Catechism Class, Saturday, December 19, 3:30 p.m., St. Seraphim Orthodox Church, 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa, 95407. Speaker: Fr. Lawrence Margitich.
- Saturday December 19, after Vespers (about 6:00 p.m.), Taylor Hostetter from Atlanta will speak on “Living and Sharing the Fullness of the Gospel as Orthodox” and a mission trip to Serbia, “Cooperative Training Mission to Serbia with The Navigators.” St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church on 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa.
- Christmas Play “The Holy Family,” directed by Carmen Anderson, preceded by Vespers. Sunday, December 20, 4:00 p.m., followed by a potluck meal, a visit from St. Nicholas and the play. St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church on 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95407. For more information, contact Gloria Collins at 849-6135 or email@example.com.
- Bible Study on the Gospel of John: 4:00 p.m. Vespers, followed by a help-yourself meal and 5:30 p.m. Bible study. December 20, Holy Assumption Orthodox Monastery, 1519 Washington St. Calistoga, 94515. Call 707-942-6244 or email sisters. firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- St Herman’s Youth Conference: December 27–31, 2015. $210 per person, ages 15–25. St. Martin Church/Comfort Suites Inn and Suites, Corvallis, Oregon. Bishop Theodosy of Seattle will be among the speakers. Lectures include “St. Alexander of Munich: A Modern Confessor in the Face of Tyranny,” Matushka Elena Perekrestov; “Worldly Conforming to Christly Transforming,” Priest Timothy Pavlatos; and “Homosexuality: An Orthodox Christian Perspective,” Archpriest James Baglien. Registration deadline December 15. Go to www.wadyouth.com to sign up.
- Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Retreat, December 28–31, 2015. Speaker: Fr. Apostolos Hill (Priest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Phoenix, AZ). St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center, 38526 Dunlap Rd. Dunlap, CA 93621.
- Kitka Women’s Folk Ensemble concerts, featuring Eastern European a cappella vocal techniques and centuries’ old traditions. Wintersongs features material ranging from rousing Slavic folk carols to lush, meditative Eastern Orthodox sacred choral works. Go to www.kitka.org for more information:
- Saturday, December 12, 8:00 p.m., Kanbar Center for the Performing Arts, Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Rd. San Rafael
- Sunday, December 13, 4:00 p.m., St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 2650 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park
- Friday, December 18, 8:00 p.m., St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Oakland
- Saturday, December 19, 8:00 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento St., San Francisco
- Saturday, February 6, 2016, 8:00 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento St. San Francisco
- Thursday, December 31, 8:00 p.m. Russian Center of San Francisco presents their annual New Year’s Eve Party, 2450 Sutter St., San Francisco. For more info, visit www.russiancentersf.com.
- Saturday, January 2: Parish Feast Day of Saint Seraphim (N.S.). Services: Vespers and Akathist, January 1 at 5:00 p.m.; Liturgy with His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, January 2, at 9:30 a.m. followed by a festal meal. Saint Seraphim Orthodox Church, 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa.
- New Year’s Molieben, January 10, after Divine Liturgy, Sts. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church.
- Redwood Empire Food Bank distribution, Wednesday, January 13. Volunteers, arrive by 5:00 p.m. St. Seraphim Orthodox Church parking lot, 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-584-9491.
- Walk for Life West Coast, Saturday, January 23, 12:30 p.m. Meet at Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco. Look for the Orthodox Christians for Life banner. Rally with speakers will be followed by a march to Justin Herman Plaza to witness for the sanctity of all human life. For more information, contact James Boubonis at email@example.com or Walk organizers: 415-658-1793, info@WalkforLifeWC. com, or www.walkforlifewc.com.
Holy Virgin Cathedral Needs Your Help!
In honor of the celebration of 20th anniversary of the Glorification of St. John and the 50th anniversary of the Cathedral, “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” we have recently surveyed our cathedral properties and are doing a few touch-ups and minor repairs.
During the past two years we have been able to balance our budget. That is a difficult task as we have more clergy and other staff on payroll than any other ROCOR parish in the world. We have services seven days a week, at least twice a day. We keep the Cathedral open from dawn to dusk four days a week to provide opportunities to visit, pray, enjoy the iconography and frescoes, and just to peacefully meditate. We are able to provide all within the parameters of regular income.
Today we are faced with an extraordinary problem. The areas above the main roof line need repairs. The cupola areas and the five crosses need refinishing. We have an engineer’s report and estimates for repairs totaling $250,000. But as I said, our budget is balanced, and there is no surplus with which to attend to these needs while they are relatively minor. We did much of same and similar work in 2002 and it held up. But with a 50-year-old building and the salt sea air, erosion is ever present. We ask that you share this cost with us.
Please go to www.sfsobor.com to donate through PayPal or send a check to Holy Virgin Cathedral with memo “50th Renovation” to Holy Virgin Cathedral, 6210 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121.
—Nikita Buick, Starosta
Our parish will be conducting a collection in church to respond to this appeal, and we ask everyone to donate generously to this important cause. —Ed.
Honey Votive Beeswax Candles
Our senior altar server, Misha Mogilev, Jr., is continuing to produce beeswax votive candles for home use. Each votive is $1.00 and is available at the candle stand. They make great Christmas gifts!
Our Council Members
Rev. Alexander Krassovsky 707-585-8330
Paul Johnson, Warden 707-696-5566
Nadine Stewart, Head Sister 925-372-7838
Alla Zaharoff, Secretary 415-456-7926
Michael Kirchanski, Financial Mgr 707-536-8842
Fr. Deacon Athanasius Ferguson 707-224-2895
Demitrios Handelih 707-292-2842
Lana Logvy 707-942-4436
Michael A. Mogilev 707-953-3636
Helen Powers 707-838-9134
Sonja Schluter 707-494-8769
Joanna Smith Chidlowsky 617-285-5211
Nick Spring 707-481-4825
Elisabeth Russie, Reserve Member 415-892-0902