Fr. David Lubliner (1991-2014)
On a trip to Jerusalem in 1969 where he intended to study to be a rabbi, the future V. Rev. David Lubliner, then a teenager, stood before the Holy Sepulcher, the very tomb of Jesus Christ, and felt an undeniable Holy presence unlike anything he had experienced before.
Raised in a religious Jewish home in the Portland, Oregon of the 1950s, Fr. David’s journey to the Holy Orthodox Church took him from Israel back to the States. There he encountered members of the Holy Order of MANS, a Christian sect synthesizing Christianity with various spiritual teachings, and which emphasized prayer and working with the poor. As an ordained Christian minister in the Order, Fr. David served in a number of American cities (San Francisco, Bismarck, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbia, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Atlanta) at a time when the counterculture was wildly transforming the America in which he was raised. Witnessing to the adrift youth of the 1970s, he struggled to live and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While in Indianapolis, he met Esther, who grew up in Norfolk, Virginia and who was also part of the Christian mission in Indianapolis. The two were married in Atlanta in 1981.
Fr. David & Presvytera Esther, 2014.
In the 1980s, many members of the Order, including Fr. David and Presvytera Esther, journeyed to the Holy Orthodox Faith, rededicating their brotherhood to Orthodox Christianity as Christ the Saviour Brotherhood (CSB) after discovering in the Orthodox Church the ancient Apostolic teaching of Christ for which they longed. Serving as a deacon in Atlanta at the first church ever to be dedicated to St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Fr. David was blessed to discover a myrrh-streaming icon of Christ at St. John’s. Inspired to continue with his missionary roots, he was ordained a presbyter (priest) in 1989. Fr. David and Presvytera Esther crossed the country with a minivan full of children (they would eventually have five) in May of 1991 in order to found an Orthodox mission in Eugene, Oregon.
In Eugene, the Lubliners rendezvoused with the Dyers, who moved there from Portland in order to help with the mission. The two families began by holding Divine Services in the Lubliner’s living room. Two storefront bookstore and chapel locations dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle eventually became an Orthodox mission dedicated to St. John the Wonderworker in the historic Whiteaker Neighborhood of Eugene. Fr. David supported his family by refinishing kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces. Still, he maintained a frequent prayer life at the church, with a full Vigil every Saturday night, Divine Liturgy on Sundays, and a mid-week Vespers. Over the years, he was able to add more services until Vespers was served every day at the church. He pastored and ministered to all, both Orthodox Christians and those who had never heard of Orthodox Christianity, becoming known locally as “The Father of the Hood.” In 2000, working in conjunction with two priests from Santa Rosa, Fr. David co-founded the St. John the Wonderworker Family Camp, introducing as its first guest speaker, Fr. Georgie Calcieu (+2006) of blessed memory. In 2004, Fr. David launched the First Saturday Neighborhood Breakfast, located at the St. John the Wonderworker Church, as a ministry to help feed the poor and, thereby, fulfill the Gospel.
His Grace Jovan (Mladenović), Bishop of the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South American, now of Šumadija, received the Eugene mission into the Serbian Diocese of Western America in December of 2000. Fr. David was elevated to protopresbyter on September 27, 2009. After twenty-three years of laboring on behalf of the parish of St. John the Wonderworker, Fr. David retired on November 2, 2014, moving with Presvytera Esther to the St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Monastery.