Alaska Dispatch News: Three Flavors of Orthodox Christianity in Anchorage

Orthodox Christianity is an integral part of Alaskan history and culture. Read this interesting article by a reporter for a secular newspaper in Alaska. Find out why he compares Orthodoxy to ice cream!

Three Flavors of Orthodox Christianity in Anchorage

By Chris Thompson

In the past several months, I’ve visited four Orthodox churches in Anchorage representing three branches of Orthodox Christianity. The Orthodox faith traces its roots in Christianity back to apostolic (early church) times. Eastern and Western Christianity mutually separated in the 11th century.

Anchorage Orthodox churches represent Greek, Antiochian, and Russian Orthodox. It’s like eating ice cream. You can have many flavors of ice cream, but it’s ice cream nonetheless. I’ll attempt to describe some of the flavors of each in this column.

Greek Orthodox
Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church is located on O’Malley Road just east of Lake Otis Parkway. Moving into their new church just months ago, they eagerly await consecration by their bishop in September. Built in the Byzantine style, its richly decorated interior is light and comfortable, displaying beautiful pictures of the saints in outstanding iconography. Services start Sundays at 9 a.m. with Orthros and Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. The Rev. Vasili Hillhouse is pastor.

During my recent visit, I witnessed two firsts among my many Anchorage church visits. Rev. Vasili’s homily was based on practical advice to the parishioner attendees regarding their physical, mental, and spiritual health. I’ve not heard a similar down-to-earth sermon in 15 years of visiting churches here in Anchorage. Secondly, during the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, it was first spoken in English. Then Rev. Vasili called on various ethnic tongues in attendance to recite it: Romanian, French, Arabic, Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian, Armenian, and Greek. Another spine-tingling first. Their renowned Greek Festival runs Friday-Sunday this weekend, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Archdiocese will celebrate Divine Liturgy Saturday at 9 a.m.

Click here to read about the Russian and Antiochian churches Chris visited.

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