Diocese: Diocese of the West
Deanery: Pacific Central Deanery
1220 Crane St
Menlo Park, California 94025
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church is located in Menlo Park, CA, approx. 30 miles south of the city of San Francisco.
From I 285
Exit Woodside Rd. Travel east on Woodside to Alameda de las Pugas Ave. Turn right on Alameda de las Pugas Ave to Valparaiso St. Turn left to Crane St. Turn right on Crane St, and the church is on the left at the end of the block.
Schedule of Services
Services are in Slavonic and English.
5:00 PM All-Night Vigil and Confessions.
10:00 AM Divine Liturgy, Social Hour and Adult Education Hour.
7:00 PM All-night Vigil.
Eves of Great Feasts
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy.
Mornings of Great Feasts
5:00 PM Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
Wednesday Evenings in Great Lent
Confessions are heard one half-hour before all Liturgies and after Vespers/All-Night Vigils.
Please call the rectory at 650-326-5622 for schedule of other services, or to arrange Baptisms, Marriages, Panakhidas, Thanksgiving Services, etc.
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In 1950, a small group of people - including those who had come from Harbin, China and from Europe - met in a building in Palo Alto, CA to discuss the establishment of a Russian Orthodox parish in Menlo Park. This group included Prince and Princess Vasily Romanov, M/M D Shvetzoff, M/M A Saharoff, M/M P Victors, M/M S Obeenoff, M/M D Smolentzoff, M/M M Halus, M/M M Riabyk, M/M V Tchelistcheff, M/M B Volkov, M/M Stollars, Elizabeth Joukov and Mrs A Witte. The same year, the St Elizabeth Sisterhood came into being with 29 members.
Formal recognition and the beginning of this church came with the incorporation of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church in June of 1952. The first meeting of the board of directors on June 14, 1952 was attended by VRev Alexander Kozloff and 14 other founders.
VRev Alexander Kozloff served as the first pastor from October 15, 1950 until July 5, 1956, and named the parish after his first church in Yugoslavia - the Nativity of the Holy Virgin.
In 1951, through the efforts of Prince and Princess Vasily Romanov, Dimitri Shvetzoff and A Sarahoff, a small chapel was rented for services for $25 a month from the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park. The Episcopalian congregation replaced this small church by another bigger church in Menlo Park bearing the same name. The little redwood chapel was built and dedicated by the Episcopalians in 1886 in Menlo Park to provide a church close to where most of the parish families lived, and obviate a laborious trip by stagecoach to Redwood City. A well-known Californian at that time, Leland Stanford was elected as the Junior Warden of the Holy Trinity Church at its founding.
The rented chapel served the Russian parish at its original location on Pine St until 1957, when the Episcopalian Church offered it to the Russian Orthodox congregation as a gift, on condition that the structure be moved away. On October 16, 1957, the church began a two day move to its current location. The chapel had already been moved twice over its many years, earning the reference “the movingest church in town.”
VRev Alexei Rubanovsky arrived from Pennsylvania on July 5, 1956 to assume the role of pastor of the Menlo Park congregation after Fr Kozloff’s death. Fr Rubanovsky and the parishioners accomplished an emormous amount of work after the church was moved. In the spring of 1958 the church foundation was poured, the building painted white, Easter was celebrated at the new location, and the church was consecrated in May of that year. The parish house was moved across the back of the church lot from another location in Menlo Park and the house was blessed in November of 1958.
The parish buildings were completed in 1961, with the consecration of the church hall. Down payment for the parish hall was provided by two Christmas dances in 1959 and 1960, organized by a group of parishioners led by the current church warden, Mr G Voronin.
During the early years, the church provided not only for the spiritual needs of its congregation but also served as a focal point for the cultural needs of the Russian immigrant population of the area. Besides Sunday School, there was also organized a balalaika orchestra, an a cappella choir, classes for the beginning and advanced students of Russian language, courses in arts and crafts, as well as the more usual activities such as church bazaars and luncheons. As the character of the congregation changed, with the aging of the original Russian immigrant population that arrived before and soon after World War II, some of these early activities were abandoned.
Fr Rubanovsky passed away in 1981, having served the parish for 25 years. That year, VRev Archimandrite Ambrosius Pogodin arrived from Florida to become the third pastor of the parish.
The 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin was celebrated in 1988, coincident with the celebration of the Millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Theodosius, Bishop Tikhon, several original founders of the parish, and local dignitaries were present at the pontifical Liturgy and the following reception and festivities.
The decades of the 1970s and 1980s were marked in the parish by an increasing number of parishioners what were of other than Russian ethnic extraction and increased participation of converts from other faiths. To accomodate these changes, the use of English was increased in the services, although Church Slavonic is still in predominant use. The parish also retains the use of the Julian Calendar.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 there has been a large number of Russian and other Eastern Europeamn immigrants coming to the Silicon Valley. The Menlo Park parish is increasingly serving the spiritual needs of these new arrivals.
The parish celebrated the 50th anniversary of priestly service of its third pastor, Archimandrite Ambrosius, on October 16, 1999. Failing health has prompted Fr Ambrosius to ask for retirement and his retirement request was granted effective March 1, 2000. The parish will miss this accomplished pastor who had served the parish for 19 years.
Fr Valerii Bulannikov became the fourth pastor of the Menlo Park parish in 2000 and served until May 2006.