Parish History

For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:11

The OCA mission in Victoria was founded in the early 1970’s under Bishop Joasaph (Antoniuk) and was served by clergy from the Holy Resurrection Sobor in Vancouver. It fell apart shortly after Bishop Joasaph’s death, after a part of the mission together with its clergy has switched over to ROCOR.

In 1983, Father Andrew Morbey came to Victoria to revive the English-language Orthodox mission. The mission was named All Saints of Alaska, and a small group of faithful worshiped in temporary spaces, kindly provided by Ukrainian Catholic and Anglican parishes. Father Andrew was also serving St Herman's chapel and St Nicholas Church in Langley on alternate weekends, the resources were thin, and eventually the Victoria mission became dormant.

In the 1990’s, occasional services in Victoria were held by Father Lawrence Farley from St. Herman’s parish in Langley, but no permanent mission existed. In August 2002, the English-speaking OCA mission was renewed, with the blessing of Bishop Seraphim (Storheim), Bishop of Ottawa and Canada. It was given the name of All Saints of Alaska and St. Arseny of Konevets, and Father John Hainsworth, having just graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York in May 2002, was put in charge of the new mission.

Father John Hainsworth
Father John Hainsworth, Pascha of 2011

The first service of the new mission was a Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Dormition, August 15th, 2002, held at St. Barnabas Anglican Church on Begbie street in Victoria. The first vespers and Sunday liturgy were held at the Anglican Chapel of the Peace of God (behind Christ Church Cathedral, on Vancouver St.) on August 17/18, 2002, where services were held until November 2003. The Chapel was offered for the mission’s use by kind gesture of Bishop Barry Jenks of the Anglican diocese of Vancouver Island. The mission started with about half a dozen members and grew as new catechumens started to join. Bishop Seraphim visited the new mission in February 2003, blessing the city of Victoria (see the article in the Times Colonist, p.1, p.2). Later, the mission received a Church Planting Grant from the OCA which was a significant help.

In November 2003, the mission moved to its current location, across from Elk Lake, renting the original church building from the Elk Lake Baptist Church. The iconostasis was raised before Nativity 2003 (article in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger) with a lot of generous help from the parishioners of St. Herman of Alaska Church in Langley and St. Barnabas Church in Comox. In 2005, Deacon Kevin and Tabatha Miller moved from Comox to Victoria and became another pillar of the parish family.

The early years of the mission saw a significant growth in numbers and a variety of activities, including Scripture studies, catechumenate classes, Liturgies in the wilderness (see this article and this article in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger), iconography workshops, establishing the BC Orthodox Summer Camp, inter-parish hockey games, poetry evenings, a student club and a Chaplaincy at the University of Victoria, through which a number of students joined the church. Father John was preaching abundantly, both in Victoria, and at many out-of-town youth events. For a sample of his talks see the Paradosis podcast hosted by Ancient Faith Radio.

The mission eventually became self-supporting, and offered a full range of services for the entire liturgical year. Several readers and subdeacons were ordained by Bishop Seraphim, who was a frequent and honoured guest at All Saints of Alaska. The church developed a beautiful small choir led by Jenny Hainsworth, and there were enough children so that a church school was started. Father John and Jenny were raising three daughters. The church has put together a Prayer Book, there was a bookstore, a library, and much more. In 2007, the mission officially became a "parish", full of little children.

church interior
Church interior, 2015

The four main icons on our iconostasis (displayed at the top of this page) were done by Heather MacKean, who also taught several iconography workshops at our parish. The two icons of the angels on the deacon’s doors are reproductions of the icons done by Jenny Hainsworth for the St. Barnabas Mission in Comox. Many icons on the walls of the church were donated by the parish members.

At the core of the parish was community. The people loved, prayed and enjoyed each other. God has blessed us in so many ways. By the grace of God, the parish continued to grow, with people coming from a cross-section of social, economic and cultural backgrounds.

Ordination of Deacon Achilleas
Ordination of Dn Achilleas

In January 2009, Achilleas Kasapi was ordained as a deacon by Bishop Seraphim (see this article in C.O.M.). In the Summer of 2009, an outreach Centre named after St. Maria Skobtsova was established in downtown Victoria, in a unit rented and renovated on Johnston St. The Centre and the surrounding activities turned out a controversial endeavour and did not survive past early 2011. The hand-crafted mosaic of the loaves and fishes that is now at the front of the church (inspired by the mosaic at the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, Israel) was originally donated to the St. Maria Centre. During the year 2010, Father Gerasim Power was attached to All Saints of Alaska; in September 2010 he was transfered to Calgary to serve the church of St. Peter the Aleut.

In July 2010, the parish organized and hosted the Assembly of the OCA Archdiocese of Canada, held on the University of Victoria campus. The assembly was themed “When did we see You?” (Matthew 25:31-46), and had a focus on the outreach to the needy. The organization of such a large event was a challenge for our small parish, and was pulled off by a few dedicated volunteers. In October 2010, succeeding Bishop Seraphim, Bishop Irénée (Rochon) became the administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada, and eventually in 2014 the Bishop of Ottawa and All Canada of the OCA.

Father Michael, father Larry, and father Justin
BC dean Fr Michael Fourik introducing Fr Larry, Sept. 2011

Year 2011 saw some big changes. In the Summer of 2011, Father Kaleeg Hains­worth took a leave of absence from All Saints of Alaska, and in September 2011, at the request of Bishop Irénée, Father Larry Reinheimer came to Victoria to serve at the parish. In December 2011, Father Larry agreed to stay in Victora, and became the new rector of All Saints.

The transition period of 2010-2013 was challenging for All Saints of Alaska, but the community largely stayed together. Under the pastorship of Father Larry, things became more stable. The parish began tithing to the Archdiocese of Canada regularly. Two church school classrooms were built in the basement in 2015. Today, as time goes on, the parish strives to be faithful to the commandments of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. The people have brought a multitude of talents which are being shared in the parish for the mutual edification of all. To God be glory forever.

-- last update: May 2016