Father Sergei Glagolev is a retired priest of the Orthodox Church in America who is noted for his pioneering work introducing English language into Orthodox church services, including musical arrangements, as well as establishing a pioneer all English community in southern California. He also established a financial support program for the Orthodox Church in America, the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards.
Father Sergei was born on August 13, 1928 in Gary, Indiana, son of Father Andrew Glagolev and Magdalena nee Wachnowsky. He was born into a twenty generation line of Orthodox priests that goes back to the fifteenth century. After the Bolsheviks took over political power in Russia, his father emigrated to France where through his horseman and musical skills, with Cossack friends and circus performances, Andrew was able to move to the United States in 1925. In the United States, Andrew applied his musical skills in the Orthodox Church community of Gary, Indiana. Soon he married Magdalena and their son Sergei was born.
Sergei grew up amidst a rich musical life around the Gary church and community. After the family moved to Cleveland his experience in the secular and religious musical world continued as he took part in the choral work around Theodosius Cathedral. In 1941, Sergei's father, Andrew, was ordained a priest and assigned to St. Michael's Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, after the choir director quit in a dispute with his father, Sergei at the age of thirteen became the choir director. During the time until he graduated from high school Sergei continued to participate in music related activities in high school as well as in the church. After graduating from high school in 1946, he continued his involvement in music while he attended Oberlin College, an experience that motivated his interest in church music and led to his enrollment in St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York.
As St. Vladimir's Seminary, in 1948, was located in Manhattan, Sergei was able, in addition to his seminary studies, to study at the New York University and complete, in 1949, a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education as well as his theological degree at the seminary. During these years, he also participated in the church choral activities in New York City area. Too young to be ordained to the Holy Orders after his graduation, Sergei accepted the position of choir director at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Detroit, where he met his wife Genevieve (Gerry) Brunarsky. After their marriage, Sergei was ordained a deacon in 1951, then several months later on July 12, 1952 a priest. He was then assigned as an associate pastor at the cathedral while continuing to lead the choir. After his father's repose on May 12, 1953 Father Sergei was appointed his successor at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Lorain, Ohio.
Father Andrew had been an advocate of the use of English in the church services and had published, in 1948, a book of the music of the Divine Liturgy. Father Sergei followed his father's pioneering work and wrote an article noting his father's vision concerning the future use of English and how it correlated with the evangelistic mission of the Orthodox Church in America. Interest raised by the article led to a call from the Church hierarchy two years later asking Father Sergei to start in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California a new Orthodox mission exclusively using the English language for worship.
For Fr. Sergei, the call was an opportunity to start anew with services in the language used by young Orthodox families in new communities detached from the ethnic communities of their parents. The mission of St. Innocent in Encino-Tarzana , California became the focus of Father Sergei's pastoral and music activities for the next twenty years.
In 1973, Fr. Sergei was called to serve as chancellor of the Diocese of the West and dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco. After recovering from a heart attack, Fr. Sergei was transferred to New York in 1976 where he was assigned to Trinity Church in East Meadow on Long Island. From Long Island, Fr. Sergei began teaching liturgical music at St. Vladimir's Seminary. In addition to teaching music at Ss. Vladimir and Tikhon seminaries, Fr. Sergei was appointed, in 1981, as the first Director of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards.
After having undergone by-pass surgery in 1990, Fr. Sergei has had to curtail his regular teaching activities. In his retirement, he has continued to lecture and write. He also holds the title of Professor Emeritus of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, lecturer at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and Visiting Professor at St. Herman’s Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska.