Thursday, October 22, 2015

1910 - The Establishment of the Greek Orthodox Church in Texas



The Orthodox Observer, July-August 2015 Issue (page 20), published the following article - The Establishment of the Greek Orthodox Church in Texas by William H. Samonides, Ph.D.

Following are a few excerpts from the article:

"In 1910, there were 46 states in this country and almost that number of Greek Orthodox parishes.  They were concentrated primarily in Northeastern cities, with not a single parish between Los Angeles and New Orleans.  Several thousand Greek Orthodox lived in Texas, but they were scattered over a quarter million square miles.

"Fr. Christos Angelopoulos, the priest at Holy Trinity in New Orleans, visited Houston in January 1910.  He was there to establish a parish, and it was announced in the press that a church would open by the end of the year.

"Father Angelopoulos had served as founding priest of the Annunciation parish in Atlanta, so he knew what it would take.

"Although a Greek Orthodox church was established that year in Texas, it was not in Houston.  By October, Fr. Angelopoulos had left New Orleans, which was having difficulties keeping its church open, for Fort Worth, where work in the stockyards had attracted a considerable number of Greek immigrants.

"The St. Demetrios parish of Forth Worth was chartered in November.  While money was being raised to build a church, services were held on the second floor of a building across from the county courthouse. . . . . 

"By summer 1913, the fighting in the Balkans had ended, and the population of the Texas communities was recovering.  At the end of 1914, Greeks in Forth Worth launched a campaign to raise $25,000.  According to B.G. Booth, a businessman who headed the drive:

"There are more than 2,000 Greeks in Texas, yet we haven't a church in the state.  In Fort Worth and Dallas alone there are at least 800 Greeks, and if possible we will establish a church at one of the two cities.  We have a piece of property here dedicated to church purposes, but if an agreement is reached to established the church in Dallas, we are willing to turn that property [with an estimated worth of about $1,500] over for any use best.  If we had a church somewhere in the state, the priest could visit all the cities occasionally."

The efforts continued for several years, but the idea of having only one parish service the entire state proved impractical.  In 1917, there was an abrupt change in strategy, and in rapid succession three cities built churches.  They were rather modest wood frame buildings that were to serve temporarily until more elaborate buildings could be financed. . . . 



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