An Orthodox community had formed in San Francisco in 1858, called the “Greek-Russian Slavonian Eastern Church and Benevolent Society.” The community consisted of Russians, Serbs, Greeks, and Syrians who had come to California in the first years of the Gold Rush. Today, the city of San Francisco, the leading financial and cultural center of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, has many Orthodox Parishes. The dawn of the history of the Serbian Parish of Saint John the Baptist begins with the arrival of the late Right Reverend Father Archimandrite George Kodzic in San Francisco in February of 1919.
On November 13, 2016, His Grace Bishop Maxim served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in our Cathedral. After the Matins, and prior to the Divine Liturgy, Luka Erceg, dedicated parishioner and church council member was honored to receive the first degree order, by being tonsured a reader (čtec) by His Grace. The tonsuring occurred following the Great Doxology. Luka was led by Father Djurica and Deacon Vladan to the center of the solea in front of the Bishop. Following three prostrations toward the Holy Altar and one prostration before His Grace Bishop Maxim. His Grace then laid his hand on Luka’s head and both the Deacon and His Grace led the prayers of the tonsuring. Luka has been assisting Fr. Djurica in the Altar since he moved to San Francisco few years ago. Many parishioners were present along with Luka’s family. The ordination or tonsuring of a reader (čtec) is a first degree order. It is a commitment by the new reader to continue learning and reading of our Lord Jesus Christ with the goal of serving our Lord, His Church, and the community. It is not an accolade, rather a commitment to even more service to our Lord. The ordination may continue to further ministry, or not. As always, we seek to follow to the lessons of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this is another path.
His Grace Bishop Maxim delivered a sermon, explaining our Lord’s story of the sower and the seed, from Sunday's Gospel reading according to St. Luke. It was a pleasurable day for all, and was completely unexpected as His Grace was not scheduled to be in San Francisco that day. He said that as Orthodox we live the mystery of the new creation in a totally different way: we are in another world, a different atmosphere, and way of thinking.
Following the Divine Liturgy His Grace Bishop Maxim, along with clergy and all faithful gathered in church hall for lunch prepared by parish board president Stan Grgich. Bishop Maxim, also, thrilled and delighted the children with his famous “candy rain”!