The Rev. Father Daniel Reese, Rector
Fr. Daniel was born in 1956 in the San Francisco Bay Area to John and Elaine Reese, and grew up in Walla Walla with his three siblings and parents. Both his parents and two of his siblings and their families currently reside in Walla Walla as well. In May of 1990 Fr. Daniel and Mat. Anastasia (Cynthia) were married in Philadelphia. He and Mat. Anastasia have three children, one of whom is married. Mat. Anastasia is a nurse practitioner currently serving the needs of women’s health at the Women’s Clinic here in Walla Walla.
Fr. Daniel was Ordained to the Deaconate in early 2006 and in September that year to the Priesthood. He served as the Associate Pastor at St. Silouan Orthodox Church through 2012 and assumed the position of Rector later that same year.
In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Daniel has a private practice as an individual and marriage and family therapist, which he began upon relocating back to Walla Walla in 1993. Currently he works as a therapist on Tuesday and part of Wednesday each week.
Fr. Daniel received his B.A. in Religion from Whitworth University in 1981. He then went on and received his Masters of Divinity in 1986 and Ph.D. in 1993, both from Princeton Theological Seminary. He served as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church throughout the 1990s, during which time he slowly began investigating the rich heritage of our Orthodox Christian tradition. Fr. Daniel, Mat. Anastasia and their children came into the fullness of the Faith in January 2000.
When Fr. Daniel is not fulfilling his daily responsibilities as parish Priest or marriage and family therapist, he loves to labor on the land and small ten acre farm built and maintained by his family and him. Their land and home serves as a place of hospitality for parishioners of St. Silouan where they gather annually for several church functions: Pascha and Pentecost picnics, fall harvest events, and more. Their guest house serves the role of hospitality as well, housing occasional visiting friends, priests and their families, and others who trek to the Walla Walla area in need of a getaway.
Subdeacon Thomas Reese
Subdeacon Thomas Reese was born in Walla Walla into an “old” Walla Walla family with remarkable parents and three other siblings (including Parish Rector Father Daniel) and spent his formative years coming up in Walla Walla Public Schools. Upon graduation from Walla Walla High School in 1980, he moved to Portland where he spent eight years involved in the the alternative music and skateboard industries.
In 1988 he moved to Alaska and immediately came into contact with the Orthodox Church, which is so intricately woven into the Native Alaskan culture, and converted from un-belief to belief. On Holy Saturday of 1989, Thomas was received into the Orthodox Church at St. Johns Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska.
In 2000, Subdeacon Thomas and his family moved back to Walla Walla to experience the joy of being with his extended family and the newly formed Orthodox parish dedicated to St. Silouan.
In addition to serving the church, Subdeacon Thomas enjoys family life with Elizabeth and their seven children, as well as owning a coffee roastery and cafe with his younger sister, Mary. Subdeacon Thomas also thoroughly enjoys art, music, and skateboarding as well as frequent pilgrimages back to his roots in Alaska. His 25+ visits to Spruce Island have earned him the title of “the pilgrim” and he encourages all to make the journey to the roots of the Orthodox Christian Church here on our own continent….America’s Holy Land in the Far North!
Subdeacon John Laiblin
Sdn. John was born Charles Lance Laiblin and raised in a protestant family in Stockton, California. Later, upon becoming Orthodox he took the name John in honor of his patron: St. John the Baptist.
After attending college for two years, he enlisted in the Air Force. During his time in the Air Force, Lance and his wife Elizabeth (Danelle), lived in Mississippi for a year and then in the state of Washington for the rest of his time in the service.
After completing his time in the Air Force he returned to college, attending Whitworth College (Whitworth University) in Spokane, WA where he graduated summa cum laude in Religious Studies. He then attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, where he graduated with an M.Div.
He was then ordained Reverend Lance Laiblin of the Presbyterian Church where he served three different parishes during his 22 years as a protestant pastor. During this time he also served as a volunteer police and hospital chaplain, seeking to help the communities surrounding his parishes. At each of the parishes he served, he always made sure to institute discipleship classes. Consequently, many of those who attended, converted to Orthodoxy. When he spoke to them at a later time they told him their conversion was strongly due to his teachings in those classes. This confused him; as at the time, he had never set foot in an Orthodox Church nor studied Orthodox theology.
It was when his closest friend, Fr. Thomas Davis of blessed memory (who was like a brother to him) converted to Orthodoxy while attending Fuller Seminary that Sdn. John began investigating Orthodoxy. Serious dialogue between the two men persisted for several years and eventually led to the conversion of Sdn. John, his dear wife Elizabeth and two of his three children. Currently his son, Father Paisios, serves as a monk at the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia and was recently ordained to the deaconate as well.
After leaving the Presbyterian denomination, and converting to Orthodoxy, Sdn. John continued to minister to people both through his serving in the local parish at St. Silouan Orthodox Church and as a chaplain at St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, WA.
After thirteen years, Sdn. John retired from the chaplaincy and now serves solely in their home parish in Walla Walla.
Reader John M. Smith, Head Chanter
Born in Washington State, raised in Kansas, graduated from High School in Eastern Oregon, moved to Santa Cruz, CA in 1984 and after 30 years, returned to his “home” state.
Rdr. John became Orthodox in February of 1987 and was tonsured a reader at the hand of Bp. Basil Essey at Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Ben Lomond, CA on March 28, 1993; the 4th Sunday of Great Lent.
In 1996 John married Susan (Holland) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada and they are now raising 3 beautiful daughters.
In February of 1998 he began serving as the head chanter for St. Lawrence Orthodox Church in Felton, CA. While serving there he was responsible for producing two Liturgical Music CDs with “the Chanters of St. Lawrence” entitled What Earthly Joy and Baptist and Forerunner: The Divine Liturgy of the Synaxis of St. John. (CDs are available at: www.hearkenaudio.com)
Raised as Protestant “Preacher’s Kids” John and his two older brothers converted -one at a time- to the Orthodox Faith. Subsequently, his “poor Protestant parents” raised two Readers and an Orthodox Priest!
Outside of his clerical duties John is a skilled Hardwood Flooring Contractor here in Walla Walla, and likes to “dabble” in woodworking projects.
Reader Niphon (Brian) Andrews
Niphon (Brian) Andrews was raised in Indiana and converted to the Orthodox Faith in 1999 while still in high school.
He attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Languages. He has also lived in France and Alaska.
Niphon was tonsured a reader in Indianapolis in November 2011. He, his wife Amrah, and their son Lucius recently moved to Walla Walla, where Niphon works in a law office.
Christine Janis, DMA, Choir Mistress
Choir Mistress Christine Janis was born in New Jersey and received her BMusEd from Westminster Choir College, MA in Vocal Pedagogy and DMA in Voice Performance from The Ohio State University. She is cradle Orthodox and is third generation Choir Director following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. Christine has several Orthodox clergy in her extended family (Fr. Michael Margitich and Fr. Lawrence Margitich in Santa Rosa, CA) and her brother, Paul, is a tonsured reader in New Jersey.
Christine and her husband Steve moved to Walla Walla from Columbus, OH in 1994 on a “two year western adventure”. Twenty-one years and 3 children later, they still call Walla Walla home. Their children Elena, Peter and Catherine all graduated from St. Basil Academy. Christine is Adjunct Professor of Voice at Walla Walla University and also maintains a private voice studio.
For 15 years Christine was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Walla Walla Choral Society and since August of 2001 she has served as Choir Mistress at St. Silouan Orthodox Church.