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Vitus Bering led two seaborne expeditions to explore the Russian Far East. On the second expedition, he founded Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by building a "City-Nativity" church [Богородско-Рождественской церкви] there. Presuming that it held services, which clergymen were there?

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Here's a link to an article in Russian that explores the question of which priests were attached to Bering's expedition. According to it, one of the priests was a Lutheran pastor (excuse me if I get the titles wrong, I am not exactly well-versed in translation of church hierarchy from Russian to English), who in different sources is referred either as Ernst Milies or Christian Millies. His presence was requested by Bering himself as Bering himself and several of his officers were not orthodox Christians.

Other six priests were to be recruited in Tobolsk diocese (I guess that is what епархия translates to?), but only four were dispatched, so Bering asked for additional priests in Irkutsk. Due to the lengthiness of travel some of them died before reaching Kamchatka, some were arrested by the secret police, and in the end only three names are mentioned as having left Okhotsk - and at least some of them left the expedition at least temporarily. For example, one hieromonk named Damaskin temporarily stayed in Okhotsk due to the lack of priest in that settlement, and another hierodeacon Gavriil Pritchin is noted as being elsewhere in Kamchatka (helping in sanctifying a chapel), when expedition left Petropavlovsk. On the other hand, at least one priest was still with expedition, as ship journal of "St. Peter" notes that during several burials the dead were "отпеты", and, as the article author notes, in Orthodox faith that ritual can only be done by a priest.

Thus, while we can be certain that at least one Orthodox clergyman was in Petropavlovsk with the expedition, his name is not known at this time.

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  • Helpful. I think hieromonks and hierodeacons are priests that have entered both the "black" (monastic) and the "white" (diocesan) tracks. – Aaron Brick Aug 31 '17 at 16:46
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Peter Laurisden mentions "seven priests" among the first detachment that left with Bering from St. Petersberg in 1733. On the same page he also describes a "list of names of those engaged", but I am unable to find this list.

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  • 1
    Good catch... tantatlizingly close. – Aaron Brick May 21 '17 at 14:19

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