"New Greek Church" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, November 11, 1894

Published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, November 11, 1894

Chicago Community Prepares Another
Place of Worship.
First Service to be Held Today in the
Room at No. 189 Kinzie Street, Which
Has Just Been Fitted Up for the Purpose
- Removal from West Randolph and
Union Streets to the Business Center -
Service and Discipline of the Church

Kinzie street, between Clark and Dearborn, though lined with prosaic provision stores and given over to Mammon, will today be graced with a church, though by a new name.  The Greek Community of Chicago is a congregation belonging to the Greek Church.  It was organized three years ago and has worshiped ever since in rented quarters at West Randolph and Union streets.  But the location was not central to the Greek colony, and the rent of $60 a month was considered high.  Consequently the community has rented the third floor of the brick building at No. 189 Kinzie street and fitted it up as a place of worship.  This room is convenient to the Greeks who do business on Kinzie and South Water streets, and the rent is only $55 a month for the first six months and after that only $50.

In ascending two flights of steps to reach the community's room one passes through narrow passages, encounters many mercantile signs, and is apt to think he is certainly in the wrong building.  The room itself is large and extends from front to rear of the building.  Workmen were busy yesterday afternoon putting it in order for worship at 10 o'clock this morning, but the premises did not then look much like a church.  The altar stood in the north end, but otherwise the room seemed empty.

The Rev. P. J. Phiambolis is the priest, or, as the Greeks express it, the occonomus or house-ruler, of the community.  The preparations were going on yesterday under his supervision, but he turned aside for awhile to explain to a reporter for THE TRIBUNE something about them and about the Greek Church.  He himself is a large, benevolent looking man, with full whiskers, and only a partial knowledge of English, who came to this country and city three years ago from Athens.

The Greek Church, as Mr. Phiambolis explained, was identical with the Eastern Church, and was the church of Russia, Greece, Arabia, Montenegro, and many Oriental countries.  Unlike the Roman Catholic or Western Church it has no head but Jesus Christ.  The Czar of Russia is not the head of the Russian Church, but only its protector.  The Greek Church is independent of the government.  The Eastern Church has no higher clergy than bishops, though some of these, for special reasons, have the title of metropolitans and patriarchs.  In doctrine also it presents some sharp contrasts with the Roman Church.  Its priests wear a beard and marry.  The altars in its churches are decorated with pictures, but never with statues.  Its churches are lighted with wax candles, and never with gas or electricity.  It believes in the mass, in the confessional, and in priestly absolution.  But it does not use unleavened bread in the mass, and it administers both the bread and the wine to the laity.  The alter is separated from the congregation by a lofty screen, with a narrow door in it, which Mr. Phiambolis said, was a relic of the age of iconoclasm.  The church rejects the doctrine of purgatory.  The services of the Eastern Church are conducted, not in Latin, but in the language of the country, whatever that may be.

One peculiarity of the worship of the Eastern Church is the character and arrangement of the sittings.  It is generally expected, said Mr. Phiambolis, that males will remain standing during the services, and women only sometimes sit down.  What seats are used are ranged around the walls and are of a novel pattern.  They are made of darkly painted wood, perfectly stiff and vertical, with high arms that come nearly to the armpits.  The seat is only six inches wide and works on hinges, as a sort of flap, so that it can be turned up to be out of the way when the worshiper is standing.  Whatever the intent may be the effect is that the worshiper will never be comfortable and therefore can never fall asleep.

The services of the Greek community this morning are to be of exceptional interest, not only in consequence of their being the first services in the new home, but because mass will be said for the repose of the soul of the Czar, Alexander III.  Mr. Phiambolis will probably make some remarks suitable to the occasion and then the ceremony, which is called in Greek "panuchis," will be celebrated.  Mr. Phiambolis says there are nearly 2,000 Greeks in Chicago and this is the only church.  He considers them all in his parish.  He says they are men in the middle walks of life and have all the intellectuality and heroism of their ancient ancestors.