The Archbishop Said to Have Reduced Salaries – The Changes Contemplated.


White-winged peace no longer sits in the cathedral of the Russo-Greek Church on Powell street. The shadow of suspicion and discontent has fallen on the holy place, and harmony has departed.

Since the arrival of Archbishop Vladimir and his suite, some months ago, rumors of a disagreeable character have been heard. It was stated that the Archbishop was not in favor of retaining in service the people who for some years had been connected with the church, and that he had taken a rather unpleasant way of making known to them his wishes in the matter. In the first place their salaries were cut from 48 to 50 per cent; they were subjected to petty annoyances; difficulties were cuts in their way. In fact, they state that they were given to understand that their room was much more desirable to the ruling power than their company.

The Government of Russia gives $53,000 a year for the support of the churches in the diocese of Alaska. The cathedral is located in San Francisco to facilitate the work of the priests. There are nine churches in the diocese. Practically there is no congregation in this city. Not infrequently the services at the cathedral are conducted in the empty church, the only persons present being the priests and members of the choir. At the Christmas and Easter services there were perhaps 100 people in the cathedral. There were red-letter days in the history of the Russo-Greek church in this city. The presence of three bishops in interrupted succession has been unproductive of greater results.

Those churchmen who preceded Archbishop Vladimir were unfortunate in their relations here. That was evidently understood by the Russian Government, for it was not until nearly three years after the unhappy death of the last bishop that his successor was sent to his charge.

It has long been the desire of the Government at St. Petersburg to establish the religion of Russia in Alaska. That is the secret of the expenditure of money to maintain the church here. But the action of Archbishop Vladimir would indicate that the Russian Government’s views of its responsibility were broadening. The Archbishop, it is said, has practically ignored the Alaskans since he has had charge of their spiritual welfare, and it is alleged he is desirous of converting the Americans. He has announced that the services in the cathedral will be conducted in English. It is stated there is not one priest on his staff who can conduct the services in that language. The opportunity was offered for a tour in Alaska, but the Archbishop did not take advantage of it.

The school in connection with the cathedral has been filled with the orphans of priests and others connected with the church. Archpriest Vladimir is said to have brought from Russia enough students to fill their places, and those orphans, who have been instructed for the priesthood to the exclusion of everything else, will be thrown on their own resources. For all the positions in the Cathedral men were brought from Russia, and the newcomers are gradually taking the places of the old staff. It is said that Rev. W. N. Wetchtomoff, who, since 882, has been in charge of the cathedral, has been led to understand that his services are no longer required. Others have left, or will leave in the near future. Notwithstanding what he says about the necessity for cutting down salaries, the Archbishop has been enlarging the place of worship, which will be dedicated this week. The cathedral has been changed to a considerable extent.

Special services were conducted at the church yesterday in honor of the advancement in the orders of Rev. Georgis Chudnoffsky. The Archbishop officiated.

The San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, June 11, 1888, p. 2

Reprinted in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, June 1994; January 1997.