Our Clergy

Saint Elizabeth Church is under the local administration of Archbishop Benjamin of the Diocese of the West within the Orthodox Church in America, who descends from the line of bishops (or "overseers" in the New Testament) that stretches back twenty centuries to the Holy Apostles themselves. Archpriest John Strickland is the appointed rector of the parish, and is assisted in his ministry by Deacon James Ferrenberg and Reader Steven Hickman. 


Archbishop Benjamin (Peterson)

His Eminence was born in Pasadena, California, and converted to the Orthodox faith after making a high school field trip to a local Russian parish in Los Angeles. A graduate of Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, he served in California and Alaska prior to his consecration as bishop, and in 2007 he became the ruling Bishop of San Francisco and the West of the Orthodox Church in America. He is an accomplished musician and a devoted companion of cats. 


Archpriest John Strickland

Father John grew up in Orange County, California, of Episcopalian background. Falling in love with Russian history while an undergraduate, he embarked on a career of historical study that resulted in earning a Ph.D. and teaching at several colleges. While living in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for his dissertation research on church history, he began attending a local Orthodox parish and with time was received into the Orthodox Church there. While in Petersburg he also met his future wife Yelena. Together they now have five children. Father John maintains an historical blog and podcast under the title Paradise and Utopia, and enjoys woodworking.


Deacon James Ferrenberg

Deacon James grew up in Southern California and has resided in Washington since 1989. He had no religious upbringing and converted from atheism to Christianity as an adult. Serving as a youth minister, he spent time in a Pentecostal denomination and later, for a brief time, in the Episcopal Church. He and his wife embraced the Orthodox faith in 2001.  He holds degrees in Religion and Biotechnology and currently works as a researcher for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Deacon James and his wife Susan (Sophia) live with their four children in Poulsbo. 


Reader Steven Hickman

Reader Steven is a native of Georgia, and spent two decades in military service oversees. While stationed in Japan, he began attending Orthodox services on base and eventually converted. Before retiring, he served as a Religious Program Specialist (RP) in the Navy, and with his wife Claire (a counselor in the Marines) eventually settled in Kitsap County to serve at Bangor Submarine Base and other naval facilities in the area. He and Claire have four children.