St. Herman Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Fairbanks, Alaska
Home / History
History of St. Herman Orthodox Church

The first Divine Liturgy held in Fairbanks Alaska was in the early 70's, and was celebrated by Archpriest Nicholas Harris, at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, with many faithful in attendance. Land was donated for the building of a church by one of the original organizers, but for the next several years the faithful of St. Hermans met informally for readers services in private homes before moving into a chapel at Alaskaland, which is now Pioneer Park. Many priests from Anchorage and Kodiak travelled to Fairbanks several times a year to hold services in the chapel.

Some of the key people in the 1980's that helped keep the church moving were Mary Kay Barsdate, Steve and Juliana Dahl, Bill and Irene Lucas, Dr. John and Jane Sellin and Gary and Sherry Hale. In Septemer of 1983, Archpriest Michael Oleksa became the first resident priest assigned to St. Herman Orthodox Church He began serving the parish after accepting a temporary position on the faculty with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, in the College of Human and Rural Development. After a short time this position became permanent and the community began to worship in the garage attached to the residence of Fr. Michael. During the next four years the parish grew from an average attendance of 30 adults to nearly double this number.

Charles Rohrbacher an iconographer from Juneau, was commissioned by the State Historical Museum in Juneau to write a collapsible iconostasis for an exhibit in the museum. After the exhibit ended the iconostasis was donated to St. Herman parish in 1986. In this same time period the land that had been donated, was sold, and the money was used for the down payment on a 3 acre parcel of land on Goldstream Rd. A structure was built to be used as the church and fellowship hall, with plans to build a church in the future.

After Fr. Michael Oleksa had left the Fairbanks area the parish was served on and off again by travelling priests from Anchorage. There have been 7 priests assigned to Fairbanks after Fr. Michael Oleksa, and they were Fr. Michael Trefon, Fr. John Peck, Fr. Lawrence, Fr. Mikel Bock, Fr. Isaac Farha, Fr. Gregory Parker, and Fr. Andrew Wassillie. In 2001 Patrick Pletnikoff was ordained to the Subdiaconate by Bishop NIKOLAI and continues to serve the parish. 

Fr. Andrew Wassillie currently serves St. Herman Church in Fairbanks.  He arrived December 29, 2014 with his family Matushka Olga and their five children: Samuel, Koby, Justina, Nikokai, and Evgenia.