History of Christ the Savior Orthodox Church

A short history of Christ the Saviour Church or

A short history of our church

The history of Christ the Saviour Church begins in 1952. This was the year that the Western Diocese of the American Metropolia bought a house on the corner of 12th Avenue and Anza Street. The building was able to contain a small house-church consecrated to Christ the Saviour and an upstairs apartment where Archbishop John (Shakhovskoy) took up residence. This became known as the “Arkhiereiskoye Podvorie”. Eventually, the numbers of the parish outgrew the house-church and to also alleviate the cramped conditions that the clergy where living in, an adjacent plot was purchased and it was decided to build a new church.


Fundraising for the design and construction of the new church began in 1962. An open competition among contractors was announced and the winner with the permission to build the church was the company "Les Kelly". Whilst rchbishop John was the main inspiration behind the building project, the mastermind behind the building of the church was Constantine Chekene. This included the calculations of the various structures, the seismic resistance of the building of the church was engaged. The architect of Christ the Saviour was the internationally renowned Joseph Esherik - Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Berkeley. The parishioners wanted to build a church in the Pskov-Novgorod style so in order to see firsthand the churches of those places Esherik made a special trip to Russia. In the churches of Pskov and Novgorod, he was particularly struck by the light that seemed to come from nowhere. It is this effect the architect tried to recreate in his project.


By September 1966, the construction of Christ the Saviour Church was completed and Archbishop John and Metropolitan Iriney consecrated the church on Sunday 25 th of the same month. Many of the Russian speaking parishioners of Holy rinity Cathedral began to regularly attend services in the new church. The first rector was Archpriest Leonid Kaspersky. Then a little later, Archpriest Mikhail Sokolov arrived from Paris to help Fr Leonid.

In the course of over fifty years the church has seen many rectors. Among them were Fr. Constantine Tivetsky from Moscow, Fr. Michael Meschersky from Australia, Archimandrite Varnava Sanchek and Fr Alexander Yankowsky, both from Poland. From 1995 to 2010 Fr Bazyl Kalinowski was the rector of the church. Fr Philip Halliwell is currently the rector.

Former Clergy

Mitred Archpriest Michael Alexievich Sokolov (1901 - 1981)

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Michael Alexevich Sokolov was born on May 5, 1901 in the city of Berdyansk, Tavricheskaya province, Russian. He graduated from the 1st cadet corps in Petrograd (1918) and then he entered the naval service in the South of Russia. He sailed in the Black and Azov Seas on the armed icebreaker Gaydamak and on the destroyer Pylky. In May 1921 he emigrated with the Russian squadron in the town of Bizerte (Tunisia). In emigration to France he graduated from the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris and in 1928 ordained a priest. In the 1930s he served in Mondeville (France) and then the rector of the church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in the city of Colombel, Normandy. In Colombel, he built a parish house and opened a parochial school for children. He also served Orthodox communities in Le Havre, Rouen, Deauville, Dive, and others. To the surrounding places of the parish district. In 1942 he moved to Paris and was appointed rector of the church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Paris. In 1961 he moved to the United States. From 1965 he served in the jurisdiction of the North American Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church (and from 1970 - the Orthodox Church in America). He was second priest of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco, and from 1966 he served in the Church of Christ the Savior. He died on March 16, 1981 in San Francisco.

Father Leonid Kaspersky (1907 - 1993)


Leonid Kaspersky was born August 16, 1907 in the village Ugrin of the Slonim district of the Grodno province in the Russian Empire. After the revolution he lived in emigration in Poland due to the change of state borders. He graduated from the Vilna Theological Seminary and then he studied at the University of Warsaw in the Faculty of History and Theology. He was ordained deacon in 1929, then priest in 1929 and archpriest in 1944. He took care of Russian displaced persons (D.P.) in camps in Germany (particularly in Frankfurt). In 1949 he emigrated to Canada where he lived in Vancouver. From 1949 to 1952 he was rector of the Holy Resurrection Church in Vancouver (Prov. British Columbia, Canada) under the jurisdiction of the North American Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church (since 1970 - Orthodox Church in America)). He was then transferred to the United States and from 1952 to 1981 he served in Christ the Savior Church in San Francisco. From 1981, he retired and was assigned to Holy Trinity Cathedral and to the Church of the Pokrov of the Most Holy Theotokos at the Russian Women’s House of Mercy in San Francisco as an honorary priest. He died in 1993 in San Francisco.