Hello my dear friends. Today I thought I would share with you something a little bit different since we are in lent. It's a season that is near and dear to my heart. So, I'm going to share a history story that takes place in my wonderful parish in Tacoma, Washington.
The little photo above is a picture of Holy Trinity Church that is located in Wilkeson, Washington. (Do you see the blue onion dome? It reminds me of the churches in Russia.) Wilkeson was a coal mining town and sits in the western foothills under the backdrop of beautiful Mount Rainier. Back in it's day it used to be quite the town due to coal mining. But, like many things, all that changed.
Holy Trinity was consecrated back in 1902 by Bishop Tikhon*, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church in America. It originally ministered to a variety of parishioners including Uniates (Byzantine rite Catholics), Greeks and Slavs. As the years went by and the membership declined, there was not a full time priest for this parish. All that changed when Fr. John Pierce was assigned as the parish priest in 1985. At that time, I don't think there had been a full time priest for over 60 years at Holy Trinity! Fr. John was a newly ordained priest. With his help, hard work and dedication, Holy Trinity was revitalized from a handful of parishioners to a vibrant, growing church.
Holy Trinity now is on the Washington State Register of Historic Places. It has been conserved throughout all these years to retain it's original character. And, it is under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of America.
Above is a photo of the interior of Holy Trinity. It's a very small church.
Below is a photo of the original flooring of Holy Trinity:
After Fr. John arrived in 1985, he was able to breath new life into this parish and as a result, his ministry helped establish another parish in Tacoma, Washington. This new parish was named Holy Resurrection. Holy Resurrection grew so fast that Holy Trinity church is now used for special holy days only.
The church bells outside after a beautiful, wintry snowfall.......
This is the interior of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in America located in Tacoma, WA.
I came to Holy Resurrection as a convert to the orthodox faith. My family and I had attended services at a liturgical church for years. We loved the formal church service and it was a great place to raise our children. But, after many years, our church started to change and we did too.
Every year our local Greek Orthodox church held a Greek Festival. It was a fun event to attend every year; listen to Greek music, eat delicious Greek food and buy all kinds of goodies. One year it caught my attention that they offered "inquirer's classes" for those interested in the Orthodox faith. My husband had been raised Coptic Orthodox. So, I started going to the classes. It was so enjoyable and I learned a lot.
When it came time to think about joining a church, I had an acquaintance who attended Holy Resurrection. I didn't know her well but I knew a little about her church since I had donated some funds to their building fund years earlier. My husband and I first attended services at Holy Resurrection in May of 2004 and we were hooked so to speak. We had found our new church.
Throughout those years, I grew in my faith journey. Holy Resurrection was so unique in that everyone was the same; whether you were rich, poor, young, old, any background, any ethnicity, everyone was treated equal. And the parish consisted of both cradle orthodox and converts like me. We did everything together as a parish.
One winter, a member of the parish was working on a thesis for his masters. He came across a story concerning a priest who had ministered at Holy Trinity during the early 1900's. His name was Father Andreades. There was a story of him riding horseback from Wilkeson to Tacoma and taking a boat over to Gig Harbor to give communion to a sick parishioner from Croatia. There was large group of Croations who had immigrated to Gig Harbor (it was known as a fishing village back then). After all those many, many years, Fr. Andreades grave was discovered in a tiny graveyard in Gig Harbor. Our church held a memorial service for him like 100 years after he had served. It was so touching that Holy Trinity's lifeline was still alive and progressing.
This is a photo of the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma with Gig Harbor. This bridge(s) did not exist when Fr. Andreades headed off to Gig Harbor. They had a ferry service back then.
(This picture was taken from my home in Gig Harbor)
*Bishop Tikhon returned to Russian and became the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917. He was against the Bolsheviks and the harm they were inflicting on the Tsar and the church. He granted autonomy to what became the Orthodox Church in America and to other Russian churches that had been established outside of Russia due to the revolution. One of these churches is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia or ROCOR. ROCOR was not in communion with Moscow for over 70 years. In 2007 the canonical link was restored between these churches. Metropolitan Tikhon died in 1924 and was canonized in 1981. It's amazing to think that this is the same priest who consecrated Holy Trinity over 100 years ago.
As I said, those were great years. I moved to California in 2010 and had to leave my church. I thought I would continue on my journey but I could not find another Holy Resurrection. I have tried and tried but to no avail. I still have my faith but right now my church going is in limbo. But, I do have these wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
As my son told me, "Mom, maybe you just had a few years of total bliss and now you will go on to something else". It's hard for me to let go and move on and change. So, this lenten season is a bit different for me. I know the Lord has not forgotten me and that there is a church out there somewhere, sometime, that I can once again be a part of. Until then, I can reflect and enjoy the many years of wonderful memories I had at Holy Resurrection.
I hope you have enjoyed this little bit of history. I hope I have not offended anyone writing about "church" since this was not my intent. I love history and this is a little snapshot of that.
Have a great weekend! It's suppose to be in the high 80's/90 degrees here the next few days! That's a bit too warm for March.
Take care and I look forward to hearing from you when you have the time.