OCA Alaska Diocese’s sole new calendar parish returns to old calendar

Juneau, Alaska, May 23, 2023

Photo: simpleviewinc.com Photo: simpleviewinc.com     

Late last month, the Church of St. Nicholas in Juneau of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Alaska officially returned to the old calendar after several decades.

The church was the only one in the entire diocese that ever used the new calendar.

At the church’s recent annual meeting, the parishioners voted unanimously to petition His Grace Bishop Alexei to resume usage of the old calendar, and on Sunday, April 30, his formal decree to that effect was read out, the Diocese of Alaska reports.

In his decree, Bp. Alexei stated:

I received this news with gladness as Saint Nicholas parish will be once again celebrating the liturgical calendar with the rest of the Diocese. We know as Orthodox Christians that we live and practice the faith as it has been handed to us. Indeed, this is one of the most important duties of every Orthodox Christian; to be faithful to the Holy Tradition of the Church. We believe this to be true when we proclaim, “These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” (Leviticus 23:4)

The Diocese of Alaska is once again the only diocese in the OCA that is entirely on the old calendar.

“This has brought great joy throughout the parishes of our Diocese… With Saints Nicholas in Juneau returning to the Julian calendar, there is a sense that we all are together and united on the days that matter most to us and our departed elders,” reads the diocesan report.

In a statement to OrthoChristian, Dcn. Thomas Rivas of the St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage explained that the St. Nicholas Church initially switched to the new calendar in the mid-late 1980s to accommodate government workers who always had to use their sick leave in order to attend old calendar Nativity and Pascha services.

“Sadly, this important decision that affects the entire cycle of the divine services was made for very base reasons,” Dcn. Thomas said.

It was also done under the expectation that much of the diocese was going to follow suit, though this never happened, and there began to be a growing feeling that the parish had made a mistake. The local Tlingits never had any desire to switch calendars, and even venerate the old calendar to some degree.

Thus, the parish eventually made the decision that they had to switch back to the old calendar.

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