History of Christ the Saviour 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 Archbishop 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 25th of the same month. Many of the Russian speaking parishioners of Holy Trinity 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.
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.
MITRED ARCHPRIEST MICHAEL ALEXIEVICH SOKOLOV (1901 - 1981)
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.
Mitred Archpriest Bazyl Kalinowski
Father Bazyl Kalinowski was born in Klejniki, Poland on September 7th 1937.
He studied for four years at the Orthodox Seminary in Poland and then four years at the Theological Academy gaining a Masters degree.
He taught church music for almost 30 years at the Seminary in Warsaw and was choir director at the Church of St John of the Ladder. On November 11th 1962 he and Zinaida Bogacewicz were married at the same church and they have a son Michal.
In May 1990 he was ordained to the holy diaconate and priesthood by Metropolitan Bazyli at the St Mary Magdalene Cathedral in Warsaw.
In January 1992 he was received into the OCA and appointed as Rector of the Church of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women in West Sacramento California and in June 1996 appointed Rector of Christ the Saviour Church.
He retired in July 2010 and returned to Poland.
Here is a description of his time as Rector here by one of his parishioners:
“Archpriest Father Vassily (Bazyl) Kalinovsky.
I knew Father Vassily from 1996, when I just had arrived in California and was looking for a church where I could come to pray. After phoning I heard an answering machine, and then the voice that I heard literally bewitched me. It was a beautiful velvet bass which it enveloped you with its warmth, penetrating into the soul, and his simple words about the schedule and address of the temple sounded so penetrating and bewitching that I wanted to rush to the service immediately!
At the first meeting with Father Vassily, I realized that my intuition had not deceived me. He met me cordially, listened carefully, found the fatherly words that were very necessary, and everything was such that I did not even think of going to any other church.
Father Vassily and Matushka Zinaida came to Christ the Saviour Church in 1995. As an active person and understanding all the facets of the church services, he first of all set out to create a good choir. He always said: "He who sings in the church choir, prays twice." Fr. Vassily sought out good voices, managed to find a wonderful choir director, Sergei Riabtchenko, a professional cellist who had studied at the Moscow Conservatory and instilled in him a love of Orthodox singing, to such an extent that he became wonderful composer, whose works are performed not only in the Christ the Saviour Church, but also in many parishes in California. The male choir of the church (Diakonia Choir), which includes singers not only of our parish, but also of many churches of the city, gave several concerts (of his compositions) a year and these performances were always a celebration for the parishioners of our church, for other parishes of the city and the Bay Area, and also just Russian people and lovers of Orthodox music.
Father Vassily expanded the parish Christ the Saviour and opened a church school for children, where he taught, as well as our parishioners and professional teachers. Children learned the basics of science, Russian language and the law of God at the school, and also successfully studied music and singing. The Rodnichok children's music studio, established at the church, was a regular participant in Christmas Concerts produced by the children of the parish, and also performed on the stage of the Russian Center.
Father Vassily was able to find an approach to each of his parishioners, to say a warm, encouraging, needful word, supported by his prayer. He tried to discern abilities and skills in the parishioner and use them for the benefit of the church. Therefore, at that time the church had a large and strong sisterhood, a friendly parish council and parishioners who were interested in the life of the church.
They all worked together for the benefit of the church, arranging charity dinners for the school and the church choir, big sales near the church, concerts and children's parties and pilgrimages. Parishioners visited the Holy Land several times with Fr. Vassily.
Father Basil was a true shepherd who sowed the word of God everywhere. He always responded to all requests and suggestions and served not only in the church, but served moliebens in the Russian Center, Fort Ross, in homes, hospitals and shelters. Right before his departure in 2010, he even had to serve along with the choir on the Varyag missile cruiser, who arrived in San Francisco on a friendly visit.
Over 15 years, a lot has been done and we were very sad to see off our dear priest to Poland his homeland, where he decided to move after retirement.”
— Galina Artamonova