St. Andrew Church (Killisnoo, Alaska)

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St. Andrew Church, Killisnoo, Alaska

St. Andrew Church was a church located in Killisnoo, Alaska that was founded by the Russian Orthodox Church as they evangelized Alaska. In 1928, the church, along with most of the village, burned down, and most of the residents decided to relocate to other villages. As a result, rather than rebuilding St. Andrew, a new church, St. John the Baptist, was built in the nearby village of Angoon.


The village of Killisnoo, Alaska was established around 1881 because a company set up a fish processing plant nearby, and many members of the Hutsnuwu tribe of Tlingit Indians moved there from surrounding villages in order to work there. The establishment of a church soon followed in order to minister to the Tlingit people. This church was named in honor of Apostle Andrew, the First-Called. The parish eventually received its own priest. Their second priest, Fr. Iosif Levin, presided over a disastrous tenure there, due in large part to his personality and disdain for the Tlingits. He was removed, but it took some time for a replacement to be assigned, giving the local Protestant Church, led by a Rev. Jones, to get more of a foothold in the local religious landscape. The priest sent to replace Fr. Levin was Fr. Ioann Soboleff, who was a very dedicated priest who loved the Tlingit people.

There are a fair number of pictures taken of St. Andrew Church while it still stood because Fr. Ioann Soboleff's son Vincent, born in 1882, became the owner of a Kodak camera and took hundreds of pictures of Killisnoo, its people, and the surrounding areas. These pictures date from from the 1890s through the late 1910s. Many of these are available today through the Alaska Digital Archives website.

St. Andrew was destroyed by fire in 1928, along with most of the town. As the town did not rebuild, neither was St. Andrew. Instead, a successor parish, St. John the Baptist, was built in Angoon instead. The bells from St. Andrew were installed in the new St. John the Baptist Church in 1930.


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