On Sunday, December 16, 2001, the faithful of Kenai and Soldotna, on the Kenai Peninsula, witnessed His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Sitka and Alaska bless and dedicate the newly established Saint Yakov Center for Orthodox Christian Learning.
The day began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the historic Church of the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Kenai, after which the new center was blessed. After the dedication, the faithful enjoyed a sumptuous lenten dinner and perused books made available by the Monastery of Saint John of Shanghai, Point Reyes, CA and the Skete of Our Lady of Kazan, Santa Rosa, CA. The afternoon also afforded the faithful to become better acquainted with Bishop Nikolai, who was elected to fill the vacant See of Sitka and Alaska in October 2001.
Named after Saint Yakov [Jacob] Netsvetov of Alaska, a tireless 19th century missionary, the Resource Center was established in October 2001.
“A God-given dream began to take shape for Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula, especially when a small house on 1.44 acres of wooded land in Soldotna became available,” said Bishop Nikolai. “The Resource Center will be available to all who wish to become better acquainted with the Orthodox Faith, as well as those Orthodox Christians who would like to come to a better understanding of the faith of their forefathers.”
The Center will be the site of seminars and small retreats featuring guest speakers. Classes for children, youth and adults are also being planned to supplement the local Church school programs offered by parishes on the Kenai Peninsula.
In addition to programs offered at the Center, a 31 foot motor home will serve as the Saint Yakov Center Mobile Unit. Equipped as a traveling classroom, the motor home will travel to outlying villages in the Alaska Bush as weather permits.
Bishop Nikolai blessed Barbara Larson to direct the work of the Center.
For additional information on the Diocese of Alaska in general and the Saint Yakov Center in particular, visit the Diocese of Alaska’s web site at www.alaskanchurch.org.