Baskets waiting to be filled with treasures from the Easter egg hunt...

SikiKwaan with a filled basket in front of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

I’ve taken our church for granted; that’s a normal thing they say cuz I grew up with this church and we all take things for granted that are a part of our everyday experience.  Even so, that’s no excuse.

I had not ever really appreciated the full beauty of our Russian Orthodox Church  ( in Juneau until a friend, who was brought up in the Catholic Church across the street, had attended my brother’s memorial service a few weeks ago, commented on the beauty of the ceremony.  “So I got to thinking about it…”  (A statement that our elders would say when they contemplated…)  The following are some of my thoughts on the subject of our unique beauty of our church:

Inside the church - view left

What church in Juneau is over 100 years old, and was built at the request of the Tlingit people in this area who helped actually design and build their church?  What other church in Juneau has this kind of history combined with the elegance of the original paintings on canvas of those over 100 years old along side recent modern ones?  Who else in town has a round church?    Who else still burns untainted incense and burns hand-dipped beeswax candles during every service?  Who else wears the traditional embroidered garments and robes during every service and wear crowns during significant ceremonies?  Who else decorates their alter with satin cloths and real flowers?  Who else serves actual wine and fresh-baked unleavened bread for communion?  Who else has the congregation stand during the entire service of 2 hours?  (Actually, there are chairs for those who need to sit.)  What other church in Juneau has respected the Tlingit traditions for over 100 years and continues to integrate some of those traditions with the Russian Orthodox ways of doing things?  AND who else sings traditional chants in 3 languages of Slavonic, Tlingit and English!?

Holy!  After I got to thinking about all these things, I realized we’ve got one heck of a church that stands out amongst all of them in this community!

Inside the church - view right, where the choir stands

You would think that this being a unique church just in its visual richness and cross-cultural integrations, there would be more folks attending.  Yet, not.   As the elderly Native folks who were baptized many years ago pass away, and technology has shaped us over the years to have an attention span that requires more “entertainment” as long as it is short-lived, most folks do not have the patience to stand for almost 2 hours during a ceremony.  If so, we have been conditioned into being “rewarded” with something if we are going to “suffer” through 2 hours of standing!  Holy!

SikiKwaan finds another treasure!

Tichnon has filled his basket he handmade himself!

Directly after the Easter Sunday services, the church shared a potluck meal with traditional foods of Russia and Alaska Native - we've got the best of both worlds for more than one hundred years! -- Father Simeon cuts the roast lamb

Our traditionally-favorite Easter bread "kulich" - this loaf was made by Nora Dauenhauer - she has one of the best recipes!

Come visit our church; open your mind to another experience unique to this area.  Stand for yourself and with all those around you.  Show yourself that you have the discipline to stand and can pay attention and be alert to the life and love around us.  It is true not all in life is rosy; not all is comfortable.  However, when we stand up for ourselves, we gain an inner and outer strength; if you need a “reward”, let this be enough reason.  Here’s an open invitation to come stand with us and share an inner and outer elegance.