Alumni News

In Memoriam: Archpriest James Bernstein


With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, we share news of the repose of Archpriest James Bernstein, an alumnus of St Vladimir’s Seminary. Fr James fell asleep in the Lord in the morning hours of June 17, 2024, surrounded by his family.

The Very Rev. A. James Bernstein was born in Lansing, MI on May 6, 1946, and was raised in a conservative Jewish family in Queens, NY. A teenage chess champion, Fr James had a dramatic conversion experience at the age of sixteen after reading the New Testament. His spiritual journey included a number of twists and turns: he was chapter president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Queens College, helped found the Jews for Jesus ministry in San Francisco, was a staff member of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, served as a pastor of an Evangelical Orthodox Church near Silicon Valley, and in the 1980s was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church. Fr James went on to attend St Vladimir’s Seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree in 1989. He was ordained to the holy priesthood the year prior.

Fr James’ priestly ministry took him to the state of Washington, where he was assigned pastor of St Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Brier. He served there for more than twenty-five years before retiring in 2017. During his parish ministry he also authored numerous works through Ancient Faith Publishing and was a contributor to the Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms (Thomas Nelson, 1993).

Fr James is survived by his wife, Kh. Martha (Bonnie); children Kh. Heather (Fr David) Sommer, Holly Bernstein, Peter Bernstein, and Mary (James) Curry; grandchildren John (Audrey), Nicholas, Ephramia, Elizabeth, and Irene Sommer; Violet Bernstein; and Noah, Levi, Lina, and Sarah Curry.

Funeral information may be found on the Antiochian Archdiocese website, here.

May the memory of Archpriest James be eternal!

A section of this article was adapted from Ancient Faith Ministries’ website.

Photo: St Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church