Anchorage’s oldest building, a Russian Orthodox church, gets new life in restoration project

by | Oct 30, 2023 | Religion

EKLUTNA, Alaska (AP) — The Russian Orthodox church on the outskirts of Alaska’s biggest city is packed with treasures for the Christian faithful: religious icons gifted by Romanov czars, panels of oil paintings and jewel-studded incense burners. But outside the hand-hewn log sanctuary, dozens of miniature Alaska Native spirit houses sit by aging gravesites alongside Orthodox crosses poking from the cemetery grounds.The narrow church with white-framed windows near Anchorage is a vestige of Russia’s nearly 150-year attempt to colonize Alaska and the Indigenous people who lived here. But over time, St. Nicholas Church became an important touchstone for Alaska Natives as well. The church lies within the Alaska Native village of Eklutna, and many are buried there.
Now, an extensive, three-year restoration project that began this month is bringing more attention to the tiny church that is a window into a complex, and often-forgotten, chapter of Alaska’s unique history.
The Dena’ina Athabascan tribe supports the restoration and some tribal members turned out on a recent October day to watch the removal of the bell tower and to reminisce.
“With the restoration of the church, we can now once again walk where our ancestors walked, pray where they prayed,” said Charlene Shaginaw, whose grandfather was the last traditional chief …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This