Santa Cruz County History - Religion & Spirituality

Santa Cruz Spirituality: Eastern Orthodox
by Paul Tutwiler

Following the 1054 division of Christendom into the Church of Rome and that of the four Patriarchates of the East - Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria - the Eastern Churches tended to identify themselves as regional, especially when almost all the physical territory to which they extended, except Russia, came under the dominion of Islamic states. Their development in the United States has generally been along ethnic lines, although there is a recent trend of people dissatisfied with the Western Liturgical tradition to change to the Eastern.

» St. Elias Orthodox Chapel & Shrine. Santa Cruz, 1962-1980.

Photograph of St. Elias Orthodox Chapel & Shrine
St. Elias Orthodox Chapel & Shrine
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

In 1962 the Eastern Orthodox priest Elias Karim bought this property and used the Kitchen Brothers Temple structures on it as a chapel and shrine dedicated to the Prophet, St. Elias. Only two years later Father Karim left Santa Cruz, but in 1988 he was still owner of the property, and was trying to sell it. (San Jose Mercury News, July 20, 1988)

The site was listed as St. Elias Orthodox Chapel and Shrine in Polk through 1980; its 1980 address in Polk was 519 Fair Ave. The entry for the Kitchen Brothers Temple is under Hindu.

» Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. Santa Cruz, 1980-2010.

This is a parish of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, and as such it falls under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. ( 2010) Information about this Patriarchate is to be found in Melton, Encyclopedia *90.

"Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church of Santa Cruz began very modestly in 1980 with the many Greek families of Santa Cruz County, and the priest and his family who had been assigned to the community, Fr. John and Presbytera Anastasia Karastamatis, along with their two children, Maria and Fotis. Fr. John began Sunday services by borrowing space at Poor Clares, a Catholic church in Soquel. The Greek families' determination to found a church became a reality in 1982, when a building was purchased and converted into Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. That building is where we are today at 223 Church Street." ( 2010)

According to the 2010 Yellow Pages, too, the address of the church is 223 Church St., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 429-6500.

» Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church. Ben Lomond, 1974-2010.

In the 1970s the Evangelical Orthodox Church was taking form as a group of Protestants who were satisfied neither with Protestantism nor with Catholicism. Starting as members of the evangelical Protestant movement known as the Campus Crusade for Christ, these people were attracted to the Orthodox view of Christianity. (Melton, Encyclopedia *88) In 1974 a core group of 18 of them, under the leadership of John Weldon Hardenbrook became in an informal way an Orthodox congregation in the San Lorenzo Valley. ( 2010) "In June, 1984, four smaller churches (from neighboring communities San Ramon, Felton, Ben Lomond and Santa Cruz) came together to form the Evangelical Orthodox Church of Santa Cruz. The combined congregation moved into a newly purchased A-frame building on Highway 9 in Ben Lomond." ( 2010) It appears to me that the earlier Ben Lomond location was the Wee Kirk, the former Presbyterian Church, the property of which Saints Peter and Paul still owned in 1994. (see below under #4.1) The Scotts Valley location would have been, I think, the Evangelical Orthodox Church in Scotts Valley, listed below. I do not know the Felton location.

In 1987 the Evangelical Orthodox Church placed itself under the jurisdiction of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in America, which is headquartered in New Jersey. ( 2010)

The address of the church is 9980 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond 95005, tel. 336-2228. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Evangelical Orthodox Church of Scotts Valley. 1983-1984.

This congregation was listed in the 1983 Yellow Pages and the SC Sentinel of July 26, 1984 at 50 Janis Way, Scotts Valley. It clearly merged with other Evangelical Orthodox Churches to form Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in 1984. (see above, under Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church)

» Conciliar Press Orthodox Christian Bookstore. Service org, Ben Lomond, 1984-2010.

In existence since 1984 (1984 White Pages), this business was formerly listed as a publisher of books and periodicals, "a depatment of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America." ( 2008) Now, in 2010, it is no longer listed as a publisher on, but it is listed in the 2010 as a bookstore at 10090 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond, tel. 336-5118.

» St. Lawrence Academy. School, Felton. 1990-2010.

This school was founded in 1990 in Ben Lomond as Sts. Peter and Paul Academy. It is now at 6184 Hwy. 9, Felton 95018, tel. 335-0328. ( 2010) According to the school's website in 2008 the curriculum extends through 12th grade.

» St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church. Felton, c1998-2010.

Photograph of St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church.
St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church, Felton
Image courtesy of St. Lawr. Orthodox Church.

A number of clergy and laity who left Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in 1998 regrouped under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and founded St. Lawrence. The story of the division of the congregation is told in 2010. It can be said in a general way that St. Lawrence is resolutely non-ethnic in spirit. The church is located at 6180 Hwy. 9, Felton 95018, tel. 335-0300. ( 2010)

» St. Silouan Russian Orthodox Monastery, Ben Lomond, c1998-2010.

Rev. Simeon Berven, one of the original members of the Evangelical Orthodox Church, (see Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church above) and later an original member of St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church, retired to St. Silouan. A staff member at St. Lawrence Church told me in 2008 that the monastery had existed for about ten years. It is located at 1 Brooks Road, Ben Lomond, tel. 336-5886. ( 2010)

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