Calling brings pastor to Bay Area
- 2005.10.02 Inside Bay Area:
Article Last Updated: 10/02/2005 02:24 AM
Calling brings pastor to Bay Area
Michael Anderson's experience with youth expected to energize St. Christina
of Tyre Orthodox Church
By Jonathan Jones, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area
FREMONT - Twenty years ago, Michael Anderson traveled to Paris on a class
trip with his high school. Standing at the Arc de Triomphe, he looked out
over the city. His eyes fixed on an "onion dome structure" of an Orthodox
He told his friend he had to go there.
Once inside, Anderson, 14, fell to his knees and wept.
"It freaked my friends out," he recalled.
But for Anderson, it was part of his ongoing conversation with God and one
of the first calls to him to serve the church.
In late August of this year, Anderson, a 35-year-old man with an open
demeanor and a goatee, became the first permanent pastor of St. Christina
Before coming to Fremont, he had been youth director for 11 years on Long
Island, N.Y., for the Orthodox Church in America, an Eastern Orthodox
Church that began with missionary work by the Russian Orthodox Church in
Alaska, and now comprises some 2 million people.
His church, which has about 50 members, rents space at 37270 Niles Blvd., a
brick building in the Niles district, while its members look for a
permanent home in the Tri-City area.
Erik Worth, secretary of the parish council, called Anderson's appointment
"a major step" in creating stability and growth for the new church, which
formed after St. Innocent of Alaska decided to relocate from Fremont to
"(Michael's) experience with youth, his vibrancy and energy, will
definitely serve as stimulus for our church," Worth said.
Born in Putnam, Conn., Anderson grew up in Milford, Mass., before attending
New York University to study drama and psychology.
While at the university, Anderson became more involved in the Orthodox
church before serving as an intern for youth ministry for the Orthodox
Church in America in Syosset, N.Y.
Recognizing the need to reach out to a younger generation of parishioners,
the church appointed him national director of youth, young adult and campus
ministry in 1994.
As national youth director, Anderson created training workshops for the
youth ministry at retreats and churches throughout North America.
He also developed a curriculum for the church on topics such as
decision-making, sexuality and marriage.
He married Victoria Teshin-Anderson, a native of California, in 1995, and
they have three sons: Victor, 6; Peter, 4; and Timothy, 1.
As the church's youth ministry program grew to a 15-member staff, Anderson
saw his duties turning more administrative, with less personal interaction
with parishioners. His thoughts turned to leading a parish. That's when he
learned about St. Christina of Tyre.
When his wife got a job as a first-grade schoolteacher in Livermore,
Anderson felt that he had found the right fit.
Although he does not have an office, Anderson views that as a positive - at
least for now.
"It gets me out into the community," he said.
When he is not performing church duties, Anderson busies himself with bike
rides and reading science fiction.
His first tasks as new pastor, he said, will be working with other churches
in the area and serving the needs of the community.
"I want people to see me on the street and say, 'Hey, that's Father
Michael,'" Anderson said.
St. Christina Orthodox Church worships at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays. For more
information, call (510) 333-8814 or visit http://www.stchristinaorthodox.org
Jonathan Jones covers religious, ethnic and cultural issues. He can be
reached at (510) 353-7005, or jjones@....