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Forgiveness Sunday Message from Archbishop DAVID

01/20/20Council Contact Information -

2020 Diocesan & Metropolitan Council Members Contact Info posted

Join His Eminence Archbishop David on Monday, April 6th at 7pm Alaska time
Topic: Archbishop David Bible Study on Plagues
Time: April 6, 2020   7:00 PM Alaska
Meeting ID: 110 236 409
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Meeting ID: 110 236 409

On the evening of March 17, 2020, His Eminence Archbishop DAVID directed the following guidelines for clergy and parishes throughout Alaska. These measures are effective immediately. Updates will be posted as circumstances change.


Serving the Sacraments during Social Distancing

Caring for One Another in our Parishes and Community during Social Distancing


His Beatitude Metropolitan TIKHON offers an Archpastoral Perspective on the Coronvirus

Holy Synod Statement & Instruction

His Eminence Archbishop DAVID - Clergy & Parish Instruction

covid19-instruction.pdf (1795kb)


Third Sunday of Lent, Cross Sunday

+ David, Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska

Each time we come to the middle of the Great Fast, we are greeted by the Holy Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  For truly, our Lenten journey is a trying one if we are making the effort we should.  More prayers, more fasting, more prostrations and so on.  By this time the Church realizes our difficulties, our struggles, and our weariness and so gives us the Cross as an oasis in the middle of our journey.  We are comforted by the wood of the Cross.  We fall down before it in adoration.  We sing to it as the source of our salvation.

An unknown author said, “O mighty Cross of the Lord, manifest thyself: show me the divine vision of thy beauty, and grant me worthily to venerate thee. For I speak to thee and embrace thee as though thou wast alive.”  Yes, a living Cross has been given to us so that we may see the true reason for its existence.  The Cross that held our Savior in death became a source of life.  The Cross that became the path from death to life through the death-resurrection of Christ now is before us in the center of the church, in the center of the fast, in the center of what should be, our life.

In the Vespers of this Third Sunday, the beautiful verses are filled with so many expressions of God’s grace and joy that we should mediate on them almost sentence by sentence. 

Shine, Cross of the Lord, shine with the light of thy grace upon the hearts of those that honor thee.”  Do you see the light of grace given to us?  Do you see that it is not the wood or the metal that gives the light, but the light of God’s grace. 

Through thee our tears of sorrow have been wiped away: we have been delivered from the snares of death and have passed over to unending joy.”  A new path stands before us, a path of life and joy never ending.  This is the true way of the Cross, not to death, but to life. 

Show us the glory of thy beauty and grant to us thy servants the reward of our abstinence, for we entreat with faith thy rich protection and great mercy.”  Now we see the purpose of our efforts in fasting, in prayer, in almsgiving.  The Cross is also a reward for the work of the fast.  The Cross is a protection and a source of God’s mercy as well, but only if we are committed to honoring it as we honor the Lord Who hung upon it.

Hail! life-giving Cross, the fair Paradise of the Church, Tree of incorruption that brings us the enjoyment of eternal glory:” Through the Cross we also see Paradise offered to us once again.  Though lost by our forefathers Adam and Eve by the tree of which they are, now a tree offers to us a return to that Paradise through the Lord who has given us the path, the enjoyment of eternal glory.

Hail! life-giving Cross, unconquerable trophy of the true faith, door to Paradise, succor of the faithful, rampart set about the Church.”  The Cross also becomes the door to Paradise, that gateway that opens for those who have chosen to carry their as we have been called to so by the Lord.  The Cross is the succor, the protection of the Faithful, a defense against the enemies of the Church by which the Church is kept invincible.

May the Holy Cross show us the way to salvation.

O mighty Cross of the Lord, manifest thyself: show me the divine vision of thy beauty, and grant me worthily to venerate thee. For I speak to thee and embrace thee as though thou wast alive.

Shine, Cross of the Lord, shine with the light of thy grace upon the hearts of those that honor thee. With love inspired by God, we embrace thee, O desire of all the world. Through thee our tears of sorrow have been wiped away: we have been delivered from the snares of death and have passed over to unending joy. Show us the glory of thy beauty and grant to us thy servants the reward of our abstinence, for we entreat with faith thy rich protection and great mercy. Hail! life-giving Cross, the fair Paradise of the Church, Tree of incorruption that brings us the enjoyment of eternal glory: through thee the hosts of demons have been driven back; and the hierarchies of angels rejoice with one accord, as the congregations of the faithful keep the feast. Thou art an invincible weapon, an unbroken stronghold; thou art the victory of kings and the glory of priests. Grant us now to draw near to the Passion of Christ and to His Resurrection. Hail! life-giving Cross, unconquerable trophy of the true faith, door to Paradise, succor of the faithful, rampart set about the Church. Through thee the curse is utterly destroyed, the power of death is swallowed up, and we are raised from earth to heaven: invincible weapon, adversary of demons, glory of martyrs, true ornament of holy monks, haven of salvation bestowing on the world great mercy. Come, Adam and Eve, our first father and mother, who fell from the choir on high through the envy of the murderer of man, when of old with bitter pleasure ye tasted from the tree in Paradise. See, the Tree of the Cross, revered by all, draws near! Run with haste and embrace it joyfully, and cry to it with faith: O precious Cross, thou art our succor; partaking of thy fruit, we have gained incorruption; we are restored once more to Eden, and we have received great mercy. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen. Great Vespers on Saturday Evening before the Third Sunday of Lent, The Adoration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross. St. Gregory the Great

"The Cross, is wood which lifts us up and makes us great ... The Cross uprooted us from the depths of evil and elevated us to the summit of virtue". St John Chrysostom

God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in life, it is still just wood, from which man himself made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart. St. Ambrose of Optina (+1891)

“What does it mean to take up your cross? It means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered. Do great catastrophies fall on you? Be obedient to God’s will, as Noah was. Is sacrifice demanded of you? Give yourself into God’s hands with the same faith as Abram had when he went to sacrifice his son. Is your property ruined? Do your children die suddenly? Suffer it all with patience, cleaving to God in your heart, as Job did. Do your friends forsake you, and you find yourself surrounded by enemies? Bear it all without grumbling, and with faith that God’s help is at hand, as the apostles did.”  Book St Nikolai Homilies  + St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Many complain against technology.  Many accuse modern technology for all the woes in the world.  Is technology really to blame, or those who create technology and use it?  Is a wooden cross to blame if somebody crucifies someone on it?  Is a hammer to blame if a neighbor breaks his neighbor’s skull?  Technology does not feel good or evil.  The same pipes can be used for drinking water or the sewer.  Evil does not come from unfeeling, dead technology, but from the dead hearts of people.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, From the Complete Works of Bishop Nikolai [in Serbian], Book 12, p. 23. Translated from the Serbian by Marija Miljkovic.

The second Sunday of Great Lent is also a Sunday where we as a Diocese have to support our St. Herman Seminary with a financial contribution. If you are not in a parish that is taking a collection you can donate to St. Herman Seminary Donate.

Read His Eminence Archbishop David's Lenten reflection on St. Gregory Palamas.

His Eminence with the faithful of St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka Alaska
His Eminence with the faithful of St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka Alaska
His Eminence with the faithful of St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka Alaska

By The Most Reverend David, Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska

Each year as we celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we recognize the Triumph of Orthodoxy when those who venerate and hold the Holy Icons in reverence defeated the Iconoclasts who sought to remove them from our churches.  We gather in our churches carrying an Icon to remember this event.  This victory is not simply the decision of a contest between two parties, it was the outcome of a battle over a significant part of our Theology.  Said another way, it is not an argument over artwork, it is the reinforcement of the very Creed we recite in nearly every service.

We all understand the difference between the admonishment in the Old Testament against idol worship and the reverence we offer to the Holy Images we have in our churches and homes.  There is no need to rehash that dispute here.  But what we must forget, and what we indeed must constantly do is reinforce the belief that God became a human being and took on our image, our body, our flesh; in short, He became as one of us, so that we might have the ability to become like Him.

On this Sunday, we read the passage in St. John’s Gospel where Phillip goes to Nathaniel and tells him that they have found the Christ, the Messiah, that was promised to Israel.  When Nathaniel questions if it is possible, Phillip answers, “Come and see.”  Yes, beloved, from then until now we continue to say to the world, “Come and see.”  But what are they looking at when they come?  What do they see?

Do they see a people loving and caring for others, especially for those less fortunate than themselves?  Do they see people who clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned?  Do they see people practicing their Orthodox Faith as it is taught to us all?  Are we praying together?  Are we fasting?  Are we giving alms?  All of these things are asked of us, especially at this time of year.  Before we began this Lenten journey, we heard the Gospel of the Last Judgment, a reminder of our call to be there for others.  How do we participate in the fulfillment of this Gospel?

Today when we speak of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, it is not simply the remembrance of an historical event, God forbid.  It is also about the triumph of Orthodoxy over a world that is constantly looking for a better life.  Of course, the world does not know how to look in the right places.  The world is too caught up in the latest spiritual fad, the newest version of self-improvement or group discussions on relationships.  But unfortunately, it is blind to the only vision that truly offers all of the wants and desires they seek, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

So, beloved, on this day we are not just called together to celebrate a triumph over our enemies.  We are called to make these images have life.  The true Icons are not on our walls, they are but reminders of the image we are to emulate in own lives.  The real images, the true Icons we are asking others to “Come and see”, are the ones we carry on our own flesh and blood.  Our image is the living image of Christ that we are to see every other person we meet.  Therefore, if this is to be a true “Triumph of Orthodoxy”, it will only happen when we become the living image we are called to be.  Let this Sunday be a call on all of us to be more like Christ, more like the saints we give so much veneration to and whose Icons hang in our churches and homes. 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it is now our turn to say to the world, “Come and see.”

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Forgiveness Sunday

By The Most Reverend David, Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska

When we think of Forgiveness Sunday, two passages of Scripture should come to our mind:

“whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  [1 John 4:21]

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  [Matt. 6:14-15]

Notice that there are two mutual acts at work in this understanding of why forgiveness should matter to us.  The love of God demands we also love our brother, and forgiving our brother, or not doing so, reflects how God will, or will not forgive us.  Love and forgiveness are inclusive acts of Christian identity.  We actually cannot have one without the other.  The one who loves will also forgive, and the one who forgives is showing love.

This is why, as we begin the Great Lent, we are called to come together and present ourselves to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ and seek mutual forgiveness.  It is a person to person, one on one, eye to eye, event that we must enter authentically, or it becomes a meaningless exercise.  And it becomes even worse than that, as the Gospel says, for us to receive the forgiveness of God, we must forgive those who offend us.

In another place in St John’s Epistle, he says, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”  [I john 4:20-21]  How many ways can we say this?  To love God implies loving our neighbor, and to be forgiven means to forgive our neighbor.

Our world has become a nearly incomprehensible entanglement of offensive behavior.  Everyone has become a victim of one sort or another.  “It’s not my fault I’m addicted, someone must have caused me to be that way.”  “It’s not my fault I did that illegal act, I was forced into it by a society that does not care about me.”  No one accepts responsibility for their mistakes, and no one can offend me because it will make me feel bad.  That kind of a world has no understanding of true forgiveness.  For them, the only forgiveness that matters is the one that proves I was right and you were wrong and that is why you ask me for forgiveness.  I am therefore justified in my actions and you just proved it!

It is not that this behavior is new or innovative, if we look carefully at the original sin of Adam and Eve, we find that is exactly what they did.  Look at the dialogue that occurs once they are found out by the Heavenly Father:

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  [Gen. 3:12-13]

Notice they did not accept any blame for what they had done.  For Adam it was the fault of the woman that God gave him.  For Eve, it was the deception of the serpent.  No one accepted any blame for what had happened.  It is not the fact that they ate of the tree that causes the punishment, it is the lack of responsibility and the lack of asking a Merciful God for his forgiveness.  That failure of Adam and Eve to seek forgiveness causes them to lose Paradise.  In fact, there is also no dialogue that Adam and Eve ever tried to forgive each other!  The Lord cannot allow people who do not know how to love and forgive to remain in Paradise, otherwise it will cease to be Paradise.

So, as we come to this Sunday of Forgiveness, the Sunday we commemorate the expulsion from Paradise of Adam and Eve, we must ask ourselves, how loving and forgiving are we?  Who have we offended?  Who have we caused to have hatred or sorrow in their hear by our actions?  How have we contributed to the sinfulness of the world by our actions in general?

We have the ability to do something about it.  We can fall down before each other and embrace each other with those words of love and forgiveness and ask to be forgiven.  Only when we are able to do that will we be once again on the road to Paradise by following the example we have been given by a loving God Whose Son came to offer it to us, Himself.

I bow down before you all, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and I beg you to forgive me, a sinner.  May God forgive us all.

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225 Anniversary of the Alaska Mission

On the Occasion of the 225th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Valaam Missionaries to Kodiak, Alaska

Most Rev.  + David, Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska

On December 21, 1793, Archimandrite Ioasaph, along with three priest0monks, a Hierodeacon, and a lay monk, and a few support personnel left St Petersburg, Russia to journey over 7,300 miles to the Russian American settlement of Kodiak, Alaska.  It remains the longest missionary journey by any group in recorded history.  The treacherous journey took 293 days, traversing Russia and Siberia by land, and then a hazardous sea journey by ship to Kodiak.  They arrived on September 24, 1794 to begin their work with the native peoples of Alaska, or as the Russians referred to them, “The Americans”. 

They began immediately working with the local peoples and defending them against the harsh treatment they were receiving at the hands of the Promyshleniki, the Russian fur traders.  They soon found the Alutiiq people flocking to the Orthodox Faith.  Not only because of their defense of the native and their treatment, but because they did not present Orthodoxy as the abolition of their native religion, but as the fulfillment of it.  The heroic work of these handful of men brought about the spreading of Orthodoxy on this continent.  Everywhere they went to bring the Gospel, the Good News, to people who had not heard it before, they found a willing people seeking the True Faith. 

When we think about their labors, we should immediately think of the era in which they worked.  How difficult was it to get around at that time?  What forms of transportation were available to them?  Their own feet, perhaps a cart or even a horse and a wagon?  Nothing more than that existed and so there was no other means available or even realized.  What about their communication?  None of our modern conveniences existed either.  No phones, radios, teletype or wireless devices to use at all.  All they had was a face to face meeting or a written letter, and relying on ships and couriers to get those letters to the proper recipient.

What literature did they have to hand out to help in teaching these new catechumens?  They were dealing with a people who had no real written language.  No books existed to explain the faith.  There were no pocket Bibles to hand out in their own language, simply their own words to the eager ears of the indigenous peoples.

We might look at this and say, “Why bother?”  Too much effort for too few people.  Would our time be better spent with a people easier to work with in a milder climate closer to home?  Fortunately for us, these were not the concerns of the Valaam missionaries.  Their only concern was fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord in Matthew 28, to make disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing else was of any significance.  All that mattered was what they knew, there were a good number of people living in Alaska that did not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Their zeal to “do the work of an evangelist”, as St Paul says in II Timothy 4, was what drove them, it was what they all lived for; and they were willing to give their life to that end if that was what was needed.

So they went to Alaska, that long and treacherous journey being completed by them all.  Under the careful leadership of Archimandrite Joasaph they met every challenge and did so with joy in their hearts.  It mattered not the color of their skin, the language of their tongue, the shape of their dress, they were all people created in the Image of God and needed to have that Illumination that only Christ can give.

It should be noted, that of the original missionaries, only Father Herman, the lay-monk remained entirely in Kodiak.  In 1795, Fr Macarius was sent to the Aleutian Islands and eventually returned to Kamchatka.  Fr Juvenaly, after converting the Kenai and Athabaskans of Cook Inlet, traveled through Lake Iliamna and on to the mouth of the Kuskokwim river where he was martyred in his boat along with his companion whose name we do not have.  Archimandrite Joasaph returned to Russia in 1799, aboard the Phoenix, he and the entire retinue perished upon their return to Alaska before they reached Kodiak, articles from the boat floating on shore from the Aleutians to Kodiak Island itself.  Fr Athanasius stayed almost entirely in Kodiak and went nowhere else.

By 1821, there was only the humble monk who now lived on Spruce Island, Father Herman.  Always an example of true Christian piety and love, he cared for all who came to him, he built an orphanage and school to care for the children who were orphaned by an epidemic.  He grew a garden and taught the basics of a Christian life both by word and example.  His life, miracles and death are all remembered by the inhabitants of the area and his memory was kept alive in veneration by the native peoples until he was finally Canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 1970, the first saint of a newly-autocephalous Orthodox Church, as their first official act.

So, let us ask again, “What can I do?”  Looking at this history of the first missionaries, we can do much to further the life of Orthodoxy in our land by following the example of Father Herman.  These brave and courageous Valaam Missionaries show us the way.  How many more devices to we have to use today than they did?  How much easier is it to communicate with others compared to them?  How much easier is it to travel today than back then?  Our resources are very plentiful and yet there is much more that needs done today than before. 

This Anniversary is a way of marking the great work of the Valaam Missionaries, but it is also a way of showing us the path forward.  In their time, the men of Valaam came forward and made a long journey to reach a people in darkness.  How many of our neighbors today are sitting in darkness?  How many of them do not know the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  How many have forgotten it?  Beloved, you and I are the New Valaam, put here by God to fulfill the Great Commission in our time, with our talents.  We are called, as Saint Paul says, to do the work of an Evangelist, using the talents that God has given us for the benefit of those around us.  Evangelism is never a completed work, it is always a moving force of transformation in each generation.  It is now our time, it is our call to be the ones who perpetuate that great missionary work yet again.  In our time, for our people.  May All the Saints of Alaska pray for us and help us to fulfill God’s will both today in the time to come.  Amen.

Letter to All

By the mercies of God, beginning in the Fall of 2019, The Diocese of Alaska will leverage the divine history of His Church in Alaska to overcome our most pressing problems.

Ours is a history of missions, evangelism, and spiritual and practical discipleship in the Orthodox Tradition. We will apply the treasures of our history to solve the most pressing problems we face today: the aging and shrinking of our Orthodox parishes, our inability to raise-up the next generation of Orthodox Christians, the prevalence of substance and domestic abuse, the difficulty in building cross-cultural communities, and the inability to defend the faith delivered to the saints while being infected by 21st century culture, society, and economics.

To be specific, The St. Herman Seminary Orthodox Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, the faculty of the Seminary, and I have committed to four priorities:

  1. Rapidly increase the number of fully qualified and proven clergy working in parishes.
  2. Directly address the number one problem that assaults Alaskans, including clergy: alcoholism.
  3. Build a rock-solid future for Orthodoxy in Alaska by effectively catechizing young children.
  4. Accomplish all of that through seamless and uninterrupted teamwork between the seminary and the local parish.

To accomplish these priorities, we have launched three ministry challenges that will be heart and soul of our St. Herman Seminary:

Reader-Excellence Challenge (2019): By deploying thoroughly prepared and thoroughly proven Readers who are also entirely proven leaders of addiction recovery (The Freedom Challenge), early childhood catechesis (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), and parish revitalization (Come-and-See Catechesis), we will give existing parishes an immediate “shot in the arm” and give existing priests a moment or two to catch their breath. This we have titled, The Reader-Excellence Challenge... and it is very challenging!

Deacon-Excellence Challenge (2021): Step Two is to deploy thoroughly capable and thoroughly proven Deacons. Not only will these Deacon’s be boots-on-the-ground-ready for all liturgical responsibilities on day one of their return to the parish, they will also be proven leaders of teams, able to accept delegated responsibilities of their priests, able to inspire participation of parishioners, and able to lead teams that take care of all the non-liturgical responsibilities of the parish. We have titled this, The Deacon-Excellence Challenge and it will require graduation from The Reader-Excellence Challenge.

Priest-Excellence Challenge (2022): Finally, Step Three is The Priest-Excellence Challenge. In this phase of the revitalization of Orthodoxy in Alaska, the Candidate (who has graduated from the previous two Challenges) will be immersed in the personal dimensions of the priesthood as well as the deep and wide theological and Traditional dimensions of Orthodox Christianity.

I have two requests: (1) Go to the Seminary website ( and read about these exciting initiatives in-depth. (2) Talk with your fellow parishioners about The Reader-Excellence Challenge with the intent of your parish applying to send at least one of your number to the Seminary this Fall.

Please notice, we are specifically inviting retired individuals and couples as well as younger adults to apply.

+ DAVID, Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska

Visit to Akutan
Visit to Akutan

His Eminence Archbishop David visited the St Alexander Nevsky Parish, Akutan Alaska. 

The village of Akutan is located in the Aleutian Islands near Unalaska and Dutch Harbor.

It takes both an airplane ride with Grant Air, and a helicopter trip to get there.

2018 All American Council Diocesan Video
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