ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GREEK CHURCH IN SAN FRANCISCO
The services of the Orthodox-Eastern Church (Greek) will be celebrated hereafter in San Francisco. Since the acquisition of Alaska, our Slavonian residents have given much attention to securing a priest, and have so far succeeded. The Bishop of Sitka has given permission to Rev. Father Kovriguin, who is now in San Francisco, to reside in California and act as a missionary among our Russian and Greek citizens. Last Thursday was the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (O.S.), and, according to published announcement of Father Kovriguin, mass was performed at his residence, Greenwich street, near Dupont. It will be remembered that the festival alluded to, according to our calendar, falls on August 15th, but, as Russia still holds on to the old system of chronology - which is twelve days in advance of our reckoning - the occasion was observed August 27th.
The two front parlors were converted into a temporary chapel and were filled by a considerable number of ladies and gentlemen, members of the Greek profession. A handsome altar was at one end. Suspended over it were three pictures - Our Saviour, the Virgin, and the Last Supper. Vases of fresh flowers and lighted candles gave the altar, which had covering it an elegant cloth emblazoned with a cross, an appearance differing in hardly any respect from what may be seen any day in our Roman Catholic places of worship. A side table was used for bread and wine - the former being the ordinary baked biscuits which we are accustomed to see on our breakfast tables. The priest entered from a side room attired in a long black cassock, of heavy material, and after praying for a few minutes at the altar, retired and soon returned robed in a rich mantle, covered with numerous black crosses. Some time was occupied in officiating at the side-table, when the priest ascended the altar. Meanwhile, a choir was formed out of the congregation, who arranged themselves to the right of the minister. The services were conducted in the Slavonian language, and consisted chiefly of chanting. The responses were given in a solemn manner, and at the conclusion of each the people bowed reverently and made the sign of the cross similar to the Catholic formula. A gentleman who assisted took part in the services by reading and chanting from the Bible, which was splendidly bound. No person who witnessed the services could fail to be impressed with the devotion of those in attendance, which manifested itself in a most remarkable manner. The priest frequently blessed the people, and one would be really surprised to observe the close similarity in the services of the Greek and Catholic churches, when it is borne in mind the vast difference on doctrinal points that exists between the two communions.
It is the intention of the members of the Greek Church in California, who number something over one thousand, to erect a church in this city without delay. A considerable amount of money has been collected in the interior, and steps will be immediately taken to increase the same by soliciting subscriptions for the purpose in San Francisco. The Russian Government, it is understood, will donate sufficient, in addition to the money raised in California, to erect a temple that will be an ornament to the city and a credit to our Slavonian population. Last Thursday was the first time, we believe, the regular services of the Greek Church were performed in California, or, perhaps, the United States, except, of course, on board of Russian men-of-war visiting our harbors.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, Sunday Morning, August 30, 1868, Vol. XX, No. 6741.