The first Orthodox services were held in Berkeley in 1920. Fr. Vladimir Sakovich, rector of Holy Trinity Cathedral would travel from San Francisco to conduct services. There was still no bridge over the Bay, and the faithful would have to travel to San Francisco by ferry. The majority of Orthodox in Berkeley at that time were Russian students, attending the University of California.
The first services were Saturday night vigils, initially conducted twice a month in a small chapel, and later in the hall of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Bancroft Ave. Fr. Vladimir Sakovich noted in his pastor’s diary that 30 people attended the first vigil on Saturday, 16 October, 1920. Only in 1931 was a full-time priest assigned to Berkeley. This was Fr. Sergei Leporsky, who served here almost ten years. During this period, the parish rented a house, in which a church was installed and also where the priest lived.
In 1936 the parish was registered by the state as a nonprofit organization, which freed the parish from taxes. In time, the parish obtained a small house on Dwight Way, where a church was installed on the first floor and an apartment for the priest, on the second. After the first rector had been transferred to Holy Trinity Cathedral, a number of different priests were assigned to Berkeley during the 40s.
After the Second World War, many Orthodox immigrants settled in California: from the Far East – from China and Japan, and also from Europe, and the house church could no longer accommodate all the worshipers. In 1950 the parish obtained the property on the corner of Essex and Adeline. For the first year Fr. George Benigsen (+ 1993) served. After his transfer to San Francisco in 1951, he was replaced by Fr. Nikolajs Vieglajs (+1992), who served here nearly forty years. During his tenure, major improvements were made to the structure of the church: relocating the entrance, the addition of a space for the choir, a new iconostasis, erection of the cupola, etc. A parish hall was also built, and additional properties were gradually obtained. In those years, up to 60 children would attend the parish Sunday school. Thanks to the labors of many active parishioners, remodeling, repairs and maintenance of the buildings were accomplished, for the most part, by parishioners themselves on a volunteer basis, i.e., free of charge, which allowed the parish gradually to increase its holdings.
Archpriest Kirill Hartman was assigned to the parish in 1992 and served until his repose in 2010. Our current rector is Fr. Edward Henderson.