New resident priest holds first service at Unalaska’s Church of the Holy Ascension
Unalaska’s Church of the Holy Ascension has a new resident priest, filling a monthslong gap. The church is one of the oldest Russian Orthodox cathedrals in the nation, and its priest serves an integral role in the Alaska diocese.
Father Timothy Kolb held his first service in Unalaska Sept. 20, having arrived the previous day on the Tustumena.
“Such a joy to be here, to have finally made it after many months of waiting to come,” he told the congregation. “I look forward to meeting every one of you.”
Father Timothy relocated from Wasilla, where he served the Orthodox community since 2019. He arrived with his two daughters, whom he homeschools along with his wife, Elisabeth, a registered nurse who starts work at Iliuliuk Family and Health Services next week.
Timothy said his family has already gone berry-picking and made a pie, and that they enjoy hiking, camping and fishing.
Father Timothy said he is especially interested in seeing the Pribilof Islands, as many of his congregants in Wasilla were from St. George and St. Paul. He already visited Atka and fell in love with the community there, and next wants to visit Nikolski and Akutan.
The Holy Ascension’s previous priest, Hieromonk Ioasaph, left the island in the spring. The choir director, Julia Dushkin, has helped oversee the transition.
Dushkin said she is excited to have Father Timothy in Unalaska, and hopes his arrival will boost church attendance, which has dipped in recent years — on par with similar trends around the nation.
“We have just a handful of parishioners right now,” Dushkin said. “It's not as big as it used to be — a lot of our elders are gone. We have just a few now, so there are very few that come. I wish they would come back.”
Dushkin said she wants a new generation to step up and learn the responsibilities of running the church, and she hopes Father Timothy’s presence will help foster that growth.
The church is hosting a potluck to welcome Father Timothy on Sunday, Sept. 17 at noon, which is open to the public.