The present parish of St. Herman of Alaska, Langley, B.C., began in 1975, when a group of parishioners from the predominantly Russian Holy Resurrection parish in Vancouver decided to start an English mission in the lower mainland.
These few faithful, led by Dr. Edward and Mrs. Vivian Hartley of Surrey, with the bishop’s blessing, began to hold Reader’s services in their private back-yard chapel. The mission was served through the years by a succession of clergy, some resident, some visiting. By 1986, they were again without a priest. After a year of holding Reader’s services in the back-yard chapel, through the arranging of (then bishop-elect) Fr. Seraphim Storheim, they learned that a seminarian of St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania, soon to graduate, was interested in coming to Canada to do English-language mission work. This priest, Fr. Lawrence Farley, came to the parish in 1987 as their assigned priest, in which capacity he has served until the present time.
Fr. Lawrence worked at a number of secular jobs until the parish could grow and offer full-time support. As the parish grew, it moved from its original back-yard location to rent a number of church facilities in Surrey and Langley. Eventually it was able to purchase property at its present location in Langley.
A number of B.C. clergy trace their beginnings to St. Herman’s parish. Priests and deacons from All Saints Church in Victoria, St. Barnabas Church in Comox, St. John of Shanghai in Vancouver and St. Aidan’s Church in Cranbrook all were baptized at St. Herman’s. It is served by Fr. Lawrence, assisted by Deacon Gregory Wright. All services are in English.
Today the majority of the parish consists of converts, just like its first founders, as well as a number of members from several different traditionally Orthodox backgrounds. The parish community, with a great number of young families, has mostly outgrown its present quarters and is actively working on a building project that will allow them to worship in a larger and more fully Orthodox temple and more suitable hall facility.
Father Lawrence, born in 1954, completed his M. Div. at Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology in 1979. After 6 years in pastoral ministry with the Anglican Church of Canada, he entered the Orthodox Church and completed a Certificate program at St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania and was ordained to the priesthood in 1986. Since 1987 he has served as the pastor St. Herman of Alaska Church in Langley BC, a missionary parish of the OCA (Archdiocese of Canada) founded by local laity, which has since grown to attain regular parish status and purchased its own building. Several priests, deacons, and lay members of new missions have emerged from the membership of St. Herman’s. Fr. Lawrence is the author of the Orthodox Bible Study Companion Series from Conciliar Press, and of a number of other books and articles, and appears in regular weekday podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio. He regularly contributes a column to the official OCA website , which can be accessed here. He also contributes to "Pemptousia", the website of Vatopaidi monastery on Mount Athos (accessed here) and has a blog on Ancient Faith publishing, "No Other Foundation" (accessed here). He lives in Surrey B.C. with his family.
Father Lawrence's weekly sermons can be viewed on the
church's Youtube channel
Deacon Gregory was born was born in Vancouver in 1975 of Russian Orthodox parents. He married in 1995. After studying theology through the St. Arseny extension course, he was ordained deacon in 2009. He and his wife live in Port Moody with their two children.