The Russian Orthodox Church in San Francisco

san francisco russian orthodox church

Our Russian Orthodox Church is situated in San Francisco’s historic Richmond District. With a long and fascinating history, it has become a landmark for the city’s Russian community.

The parish was established by Russian emigrants who settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fr. Constantine Tsapralis, its first priest, immigrated from Sanga, Greece in 1903.

History of the Church

Five miles west of downtown San Francisco, five gilded onion domes rise against an angular skyline. It’s one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and its Russian church has served as a spiritual anchor for local Russians since the 1960s.

The parish began as a refugee settlement of Russians and Serbians who had fled the Soviet regime, who relied on visiting priests from Russia for their worship services. In 1952, these same Russian-speaking immigrants purchased a house at 12th Avenue and Anza Street to house their headquarters.

The church’s founding story mirrors that of many Russian Orthodox churches in San Francisco: it was established by refugees from Siberia and Manchuria who were forcibly relocated after their homelands were taken by Soviet government troops in 1931. With the construction of Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, many new Californians made their way across to the San Francisco Bay Area where they established Holy Trinity Cathedral as a community.


The church provides a range of services. Popular ones include Holy Week and Christmas services.

At this church, liturgical services are similar to those found throughout Russian Orthodox Christianity; they include a Great Litany, Troparia, Kontakia and Antiphons.

These prayers emphasize the central role of Orthodox faith in daily life, emphasizing topics like salvation, peace and forgiveness.

In addition, a priest or lay leader provides a homily that provides brief commentary on the readings. This provides believers with an opportunity to ask questions and gain further insight into the Gospel message.

Each year, the church hosts a variety of social events for members and other Orthodox communities in San Francisco. These gatherings can be fun and festive – there’s even one just for kids!


Confession is one of the sacraments offered by the Orthodox Church. It serves to restore union between God and man through genuine repentance, assurance of change, and bearing witness to that change.

In a confession, the penitent confesses their sins to God and to the priest listening, admitting they have offended God and regretting them. The prayer of absolution is also read by the priest in order for God to forgive and grant pardon for the sinner.

Confession is usually held in a parish church, but in certain situations the priest may reach the person wherever he or she is located. This is especially true for those who may be in danger or facing an emergency.

Social Events

The church hosts numerous social events throughout the year. These include a Christmas Cookie Sale, Old Calendar New Year’s Eve and performances by both choirs and dancers.

On the Old Calendar, the parish also hosts a Christmas pageant for children. This annual event draws many members of the community and has become an iconic tradition.

Additionally, the church organizes numerous cultural and athletic activities for youth in the community. These include field trips to Fort Ross – the first Russian settlement on North America’s Pacific coast – as well as Corbel Vineyard.

The church also encourages its members to stay fit by volunteering at the soup kitchen and playing in a local basketball league. This teaches children the value of living a healthy lifestyle and allows them to form friendships within their community.

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