The Alaskan Church is the Mother of all Orthodox dioceses. She retains the historical element from our first missionaries as a guide to the life of Orthodoxy in America and throughout the world. The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska has its roots in the first missionaries arriving on Kodiak, September 24, 1794, from Russia.
Traveling about a year, the Valaam Mission journeyed east across Russia and Siberia to begin the evangelization of Russian America (Alaska) - the longest missionary journey in Christian history. The first diocese for the Orthodox Church in this territory began in Sitka (1848) and later moved to the lower 48 to San Francisco. This missionary diocese would grow 100 years later into an autocephalous, autonomous church in the New World: the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
The OCA Diocese of Alaska currently maintains St. Herman's Seminary (Kodiak), some 100 churches, chapels and missions served by 35 priests and 11 deacons, covering an area of 586,000 square miles. The Seminary and many churches are in great disrepair. Today, we find the results of decades of aggressive assimilation policies, war, welfare and misdirected education efforts have left Alaska our number one state for substance abuse (alcoholism), suicide and violence.
The Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of Alaska, suffered nine suicides and 37 alcohol-related fatalities during February 2001. Orthodox faithful in Alaska are among the poorest of the poor. They are faithful to their Orthodox heritage but are struggling to build and maintain a church against harsh elements and lack of funds. They are in great need of Orthodox Christian teachings in order to truly understand and hold fast to traditions.
OUTREACH ALASKA is a comprehensive plan necessary for the future of Orthodoxy in Alaska - America's Holy Land. If there is any work to be done by us as Orthodox Christians, it must begin at home - where the need and cause is the greatest. What greater need is there in our country than that of the struggling Orthodox of Alaska? Through the projects of OUTREACH ALASKA, American Orthodoxy is strengthened through the support of all jurisdictions. What better way to fight the evil one than with prayer, pilgrimages and the education of priests?
"The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord." (Psalm 37:32)
It is said: "He who denies his heritage has no heritage".
This is also true with our faith heritage. Alaska is the heritage of American Orthodox - the land of the Saints of America - St. Innocent, St. Herman, St. Juvenaly, Peter the Aleut, St. Yako.
As a result of isolation and years of neglect, American Orthodox have not recognized their faith heritage in Alaska. What was given to us is at great risk. We are losing in Alaska. If we deny the needs of this faith heritage, there will be no faith heritage. OUTREACH ALASKA is the new Alaska Mission.
It is time to learn about this faith heritage because it is right.
It is time to see our faith heritage, because it is right.
It is time to remember our faith heritage, because it is right.
It is time to give spiritually to this faith heritage, because it is right.
OUTREACH ALASKA - the new Alaska Mission - is right for all American Orthodox.
As St. Innocent traveled beyond his limits among the Alaska native peoples; it is time to recognize the heirs of his spiritual legacy. As we work to assist in other areas of the world, it is time to end the isolation and neglect of our own.
Because it is right! Let us begin!