Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church is in the full throes of reconstruction. The city of Kenai’s darling, and the only federally-designated National Historic Landmark on the Kenai Peninsula, is undergoing renovations to fix its crumbling foundation and caving walls. “It’s a mess”, said Fr Thomas Andrew while standing inside the chapel last week amid the work in progress. Apart from repairing the mounting structural deterioration of the 115-year-old church, the parish plans to add a ramp for disability access, as well as a fire and theft alarm system to protect the religious artefacts. Blazy Construction of Soldotna has done the work on the church, having just completed replacing the rotting timbers in the church’s log frame. “If you look at how many logs had to be replaced, it’s a wonder it stood for so long without crumbling over”, Fr Thomas said. “When they were pounding on the inside, you could see pieces of log coming off”.
The project hasn’t been without a few delays. “It was supposed to start in May or June, but it started in September”, he said. “We waited for five-and-a-half months until they finally started working on it”. Once Blazy Construction began working, the company discovered there was asbestos over the altar and main body of the church. “We didn’t really expect that”, Fr Thomas said. The church didn’t expect the cost of that either. “It’s a setback, but if people continue to donate, this would help pay for that”, he said. With a nearly 35,000 USD (1.069 million Roubles 26,503 Euros 22,586 UK Pounds) price tag for the asbestos abatement, the parish looked to other funding sources to be able to continue the much-needed and long-awaited renovation.
Dorothy Gray, a parishioner and the secretary of the church council of the Russian Orthodox parish, petitioned the city of Kenai for more funds. The city applied for a grant of 20,000 USD (611,000 Roubles 15,145 Euros 12,907 UK Pounds) from the Alaska Association of Historical Preservation on the church’s behalf this fall, and it recently learned that funding would come through for the abatement. That, along with a 1,000 USD (30,517 Roubles 757 Euros 645 UK Pounds) mini-grant from the Kenai Historical Society, is helping to make up the unexpected expense, she said. “We’re a lot closer than we were a few weeks ago”, Gray said. If the parish isn’t able to come up with the remaining money, it might have to postpone or eliminate some of its plans, Gray said, like a new porch and a ramp for disabled access. However, church officials seem to be taking it all in stride. “You can’t foresee all the unseen problems that might exist”, Gray said. “Despite the delay, things fell into place on this project so nicely”. For Fr Thomas, the church’s renovation, with all of its unexpected roadblocks, is a gigantic metaphor. “Life is like that especially”, he said.
Life does go on. Gray said Blazy Construction would be pouring a gypsum concrete floor next week, complete with a heated flooring system. “It’s going to be a nice addition to the church”, she said. “It’ll help preserve the logs, and our church was actually pretty cold, so, now, it’ll be more uniformly heated”. Once that’s completed, construction will continue on the inside of the building, replacing windows, walls, and wiring. Fr Thomas said he expects that the construction would be complete in February. For the time being, until renovations are complete this winter, the church is holding services on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings across the street at Fort Kenay, but the parishioners don’t seem to mind. “We know that the church is actually comprised of the people who worship there; it’s not the building itself”, Gray said. An altar is temporarily set up inside Fort Kenay for a makeshift worship space so the parish can still meet the needs of its people, especially for the upcoming Orthodox Christmas celebrations. “It’s being worked on. That’s the good part”, Fr Thomas said.
18 December 2010
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
This parish only needs 14,000 USD (427,233 Roubles 10,601 Euros 9,035 UK Pounds)… a very small sum by institutional standards. The OCA doesn’t have it because all of its money is eaten up by SVS, the Syosset compound (and JP’s little nest in DC), and its interminable lawyer’s fees and settlement costs. Sad, ain’t it? There’s money for lawyers… there’s money for a bunch of preening and posturing professors in Yonkers… there’s money for JP to live in one of the most expensive MSAs in the country… there’s money for the Koumentakos settlement and the Bobby K payoff… and there’s money for drones like Garvey, Burdikoff, Garklavs, Tosi, and Karlgut… yes, siree; plenty of cash for that!
When one of the oldest parishes in Alaska needed a hand… no go! We don’t have the money! Go fish for it! Tells ya something about SVS, JP, and the OCA apparatchiki and their priorities, doesn’t it? Reflect well on this… there are ROCOR sorts who support the OCA loonies. It tells you plenty about Alexander Lebedeff, Andrei Psaryov, Vassa Larina, and Roman Krassovsky. Interesting, ain’t it… in the end, there’s no difference between the OCA apparatchiki and the ROCOR apparatchiki. As a priest-friend of mine remarked, “They’re not nuts… they’re too good at looking after Number One to be nuts”.
Is there anyone out there who can help these good people? Syosset won’t… or, is it, “Syosset CAN’T help them; they’re out of liquid assets”. Do mark it down that neither oca.org or that loudmouth Stokoe had anything easily-accessible on their sites appealing for funds for this worthy cause… yet they circle the wagons around known thieves, reputed child abusers, and ecclesial dirty-tricksters. It truly makes one want to hurl at the depravity of it all. God DO help us. We’re gonna need it.