About Our Bishop
The leader of our diocese is Archbishop BENJAMIN of San Francisco and the West, in the Orthodox Church in America and in communion with the worldwide Orthodox Church.
He was born in 1954 and was baptized and Chrismated at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles, CA on April 27, 1972. In 1982 he was awarded a Master of Divinity degree and Certificate in Liturgical Music from Saint Vladimir Seminary.
A prolific musician, he served as choirmaster at parishes in Detroit, MI and Los Angeles and as chairman of the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Liturgical Music. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on November 15, 1987 by Bishop Tikhon at his home parish, which he served for 10 years as deacon and youth and education director. The following year he was tonsured a riasophore monk by Bishop Tikhon and further tonsured to the lesser schema by Archbishop [now Metropolitan] Herman at Saint Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, PA. In 1991 he was elevated to the rank of archdeacon.
On July 19, 1997, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Tikhon. In 1999, Igumen Benjamin was was transferred to the Diocese of Alaska, where he served as dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral and later as administrative dean of Saint Herman Seminary, Kodiak, AK. He was elevated to the rank of archimandrite in 2002. In January 2004 he was reassigned to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles, and appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of the West.
Archbishop Benjamin was elected to the episcopacy by members of the Holy Synod of Bishops at their Spring Session in March 2004.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN presided at the consecration of Archbishop Benjamin [Peterson] to the episcopacy at historic Holy Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, May 1, 2004.
Archbishop Benjamin was elevated to the rank of Archbishop on May 9, 2012.
About Our Priest
The Rector of our parish is Father Philip Halliwell.
He was born in 1963, in Bonn, West Germany and was received into the Holy Orthodox Church on November 27th 1988 at the Cathedral of All Saints and the Dormition in London, UK. In the early 1990’s he spent three years in Russia, where he also met and married his wife Tatiana. He then served as a subdeacon and sang in the choir for 15 years at the Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex, where they raised their family of four children. Whilst studying at St. Tikhon’s Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at the Monastery Church on October 11th 2011. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the parish of St Nicholas of South Canaan, Billings Montana and then to Christ the Saviour Church, San Francisco from August 2013 to the present.
Father Philip has an MA in Education and worked as a Special Education teacher for 16 years in Essex UK. He completed his MDiv at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2013 with honors with his dissertation entitled “Christ’s Prayer in Gethsemane - the implications for the spiritual life as found in the teachings of Elder Sophrony”. Whilst at seminary he also served at Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego NY and worked for one summer as director of St. Andrew’s Orthodox Camp on Lake Oneida NY.
Apart from his parish work at Christ the Saviour on Anza St., Father Philip also sings in the Diakonia male voice choir, teaches at St. John’s Orthodox Academy, leads a young adult winter retreat at St. John of San Francisco Monastery Manton, helps out at St Eugene’s Orthodox Camp and takes an active part in the wider Orthodox community of the Bay Area.
Other fun facts from Fr Philip: I lived in West Germany until four years old as my father was the Anglican priest of English diplomatic community there. I was raised on the beautiful Island of Jersey in the Channel Islands together with my three sisters and brother. Our house and church were right on the coast of a bay where smugglers used to ply their trade and where I loved to ride our horse Boxer across the beach with our dog, Tosh running behind. I also liked spear fishing, surfing and swimming around the coast. Before college, I traveled around the world, to India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong (I smuggled bibles into China), Hawaii, and North America. In my late teens I dreamt of being a rock star and studied Performing Arts at college, playing guitar, jazz piano, drums, trumpet and music composition.
We do miss the gentle beauty of the English countryside, the monastery in Essex and our friends and family but we are very happy to be here in the USA. We like the American sense of humour and the open friendliness, endless forest, beautiful lakes, wildlife, and the numerous Orthodox Churches.