About - Holy Protection Orthodox Church, Seattle

In December 2000, a group of Russian speaking Orthodox Christians from the former Soviet Union, together with some American families, formed the Holy Protection of the Theotokos Orthodox mission  in Seattle under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Today we are blessed to be a parish of the Serbian Archdiocese of North and South America. Our parish provides a place of worship according to the traditions of the Orthodox Church with services in Church Slavonic and English.  The priest, Fr Serafim Gascoigne, a Russian speaker born in England, serves the parish together with his Matushka and children.  A former linguist and computer author, he offers pastoral and spiritual help to all who come to him, regardless of their beliefs.The Church, according to Fr Serafim, is a spiritual oasis for those seeking God.  “We must remember that every one is made in the image of God and although we may think we do not have any need for God or may not be actively seeking Him.  God is seeking us”.  When a person suddenly realizes that God is seeking him, he becomes aware that there exists a very special relationship between Creator and man.Often in life we experience God without knowing it.  Often we hear a small voice that inspires and directs us, especially in times of tribulation.

However to respond that small voice, to develop our relationship with God, we must enter the community of the  Church, for there we will receive the grace of God.  In this sense, the Church is not an institution or some special club, but the mystical Body of Christ, which feeds us spiritually, morally and physically. 

There are many people who respect Christianity and even call themselves Christian but do not want to attend a  Church.  In many cases they have had a bad experience in the past.  May be the priest was too demanding or too distant or the unfortunate visitor was overcorrected by other church members.  However at Pokrov, we welcome everyone and do not expect visitors to know how to behave according to outward form.

The Church is a place of healing not a place of judgment.  People come with their problems which they offer to God.  God in turn, accepts their sins, their evil deeds and rewards them with eternal life. 

What kind of exchange is this? 

Would you give someone dust and expect gold in return? 

Yet Christ blesses us and helps us to change our lives so that we can be like Him.  He made the supreme sacrifice, offering His life for us on the Cross. 

When we come to realize that the Church is not a place of strange and meaningless rituals but a place of healing and spiritual power, then we ourselves begin to grow spiritually and we begin to love those around us. 

We become less self-centered and more community minded.  As our relationship with God  grows we become more human in our everyday lives.  An elder once said that we are like the spokes of a wheel with God in the centre.  As we get closer to the center, to God, then we get closer to our neighbours.

Never think that the Church is not the place for you.  Do not believe that you are unworthy or are not good enough to attend Church. The Church is there for those who need healing, not for healthy souls.  I desire mercy not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6) For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Matt 9:13). The priest is not a professional expert but a fellow labourer, who has been given special gifts from God to carry out the task of caring for souls.  The priest too needs healing and above all the support of the people if he is to fulfill his duty.

Our Lord says: “Come unto me all ye who are heavily laden and I will give you rest”.