Our Parish History
The Greek Orthodox Community in Lynn, Massachusetts was incorporated on April 5th in the year 1905.
Over one-hundred years ago, in the City of Lynn, a pioneer group of Greek people established this Church for the purpose of perpetuating their religious and cultural heritage. Since then, the St. George Community has grown into one of the largest religious congregations, not only in the city of Lynn, but also in the Greek Archdiocese of America. As a group, the Greek people of Lynn have contributed immensely in all aspects, to the general growth and development of the city.
In July of 1903, 110 men of this small Greek population met for the express purpose of organizing a religious society. These men, steeped in Greek Orthodox tradition, realized that they could not exist in this new land and preserve their identity without their Church. In August of that same year, the society elected the following officers: George Vatsineas, President; Haralampos Patsiades, Vice-President; Panagiotis Maimonis, Secretary; George Papathanasopoulos, Treasurer. The Board of Trustees were Efthemious Demakes, George Mougyios, Nikitas Papadoupolos, Athanasios Kilitses, Michael Velias, Athanasios Sprigitis and Elias Kallianis.
Later that same month, on August 16, 1903, a constitution was presented to the body in General Assembly for approval. During this assembly the newly formed religious society adopted St. George as its name which was also designated as the name of the Church when it came into being.
Between 1903 and 1905, the members of the society called upon priests from Boston or other cities to conduct special services and sacraments such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Since these services were performed in a hall, the members felts that it was due time that they acquired a church of their own and a permanent priest to minister to their religious needs. To gain their objectives, the members of the Board intensified their endeavors to raise money for this purpose. Every Greek home was asked to contribute 5 cents per person weekly to the treasury and a penny tax was levied upon each loaf of bread purchased from the local Greek bakery.
On April 2, 1905, the Constitution of the organization was ratified and incorporation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts took place under the name "Hellenic Association of St. George of Lynn." In the same year, the membership decided to purchase the Swedish Evangelical Church building on Pleasant Street and papers were passed on December 26, 1905.
The first priest assigned to St. George was the Rev. Vasilios Lambrides. He was sent to our Church by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and he served for three years until 1908. His immediate successors were Rev. Pantelides in 1908 and Archmandrite Theophilos Spyropoulos who served from 1909 to 1917.
The largest wave of emigration from Greece to America took place in the period of 1909 to 1912. Due to the influx of Greeks into the city, the members felt the need for a larger house of worship with facilities to teach the Orthodox Faith and the Greek language to their children. For this purpose, the membership purchased the property of the Unitarian Church on South Common Street for the sum of $17,000. This property was situated on the same site where our present edifice stands.
Between the years of 1917 and 1921, there was a quick succession of priests at St. George. The Reverands Karapiperis, Marinakis, Lambrides, Bourazanis and Douropulos served during this period.
The Rev. Archmandrite Christopher Argyrides arrived in Lynn in 1922. He served the parish faithfully and diligently for 48 years. His ministry was a most fruitful one having a dramatic impact on the growth and development of St. George. Under his pastorship, St. George progressed steadily. His dedication to Orthodoxy and to the furthering of Greek-American ideals in the parish were invaluable to the progress of St. George.
During Fr. Argyrides' pastorship, the idea of a new temple of worship and of a Community Center was conceived. In the beginning, the thought of such a gigantic project was overwhelming and was met with some resistance. Yet far-sighted parishioners, concerned with the future of the Greek-Americans in Lynn and the perpetuation of Orthodox and Hellenic ideals, would not abandon this goal. From 1937 to 1942, contributions for the new complex were slowly being received, although there was no concerted drive for this purpose. The first serious move to organize a committee occurred in May of 1942 when $37,000 was pledged for the new buildings. In September of that same year a Building Fund Committee was established. During WWII, fund raising activities were at a low except for the raising of $90,000 in war bonds. In 1947, efforts were accelerated. Every event, sponsored by the Church and affiliated societies, was held for the benefit of the anticipated new project.
Just before the actual construction of the new Church, the council, sensing the growing size and needs of its community acquired the services of an assistant priest, Rev. Charles L. Mihos.
On May 10, 1952, ground was broken for the Community Center which was built first as to have a temporary space to conduct Church services while the Church itself was being built. The Community Center was decided on February 21, 1954.
The cornerstone of the new Church was laid on May 3, 1954 and the Church was complete by the end of 1954 with the service of Theranixia (Opening of the Doors) taking place on January 30, 1955. The period following the completion of the buildings was devoted to the beautification of our buildings in preparation of its Consecration. Before the consecration, major acquisitions of property to the rear of our Church were made. As a result of these we have an extensive parking area and is also the site of our Annual Festival. Our Church was consecrated on May 14, 1978 by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos.
Honoring Harry Agganis - On June 27, 1955 St. George Community mourned the loss of Harry Agganis, a Lynn boy who had gone off to accomplish every boys dream, play professional baseball. At the time of his death Harry was playing for the Boston Red Sox. Harry "The Golden Greek" exemplified all the qualities of a great athlete. He was a true gentleman. In April of 1956 the St. George community dedicated their gymnasium to Harry Agganis and established the Harry Agganis Basketball Tournament that has matured into a national commitment of our Greek American youth spanning our entire country. In 1995, the 40th anniversary of this death, the unveiling of a life-size statue, by sculptor Armand La Montaine, was held and has been permanently placed at the Boston University Harry Agganis Sports Arena.
In July of 1984 the "Platytera" Mural was completed by renowned Byzantine artist and iconographer, Demetrios Dukas, a Lynn native and parishioner of St. George. The long awaited mural graces the wall over the altar. It is a magnificent example of our Byzantine art depicting the Blessed Virgin and Christ Child. Dukas has painted all the murals and icon panels which equal 14,000 square feet. Subsequently, all other icons adorning the full facade of the altar, iconostasion have also been completed by him. A deep heartfelt and grateful thank you was extended to Mr. Dukas by all St. George parishioners.
SAINT GEORGE WOMEN FIGHT FOR RIGHT TO VOTE. . .During the early spring months of 1985 it was revealed that the St. George Church of Lynn was the only Greek Orthodox in North and South America to deny women Church members voting privileges. On May 7 the board unanimously approved an amendment granting the women's vote but the amendment was later voted down at a general assembly. By the end of June a women's committee fighting for their rights announced that they not support various functions including the 3 day Festival held Labor Day weekend. In October the amendment was brought to the general assembly and again failed to pass by a two-thirds majority. Another vote was held and the amendment was overwhelmingly accepted 147-23. A truly historic day for the women of St. George.
Rev. Charles L . Mihos was honored at a Testimonial Banquet in November of 1996 for his 45 years of spiritual leadership and dedication to the St. George community. He was recognized by Rev. Peter Kyriakos, representing Archbishop Iakovos, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston and many dignitaries who also praised him for his devotion to the Lynn Community.
A NEW ERA BEGINS - Rev. George D. Tsoukalas installed as new pastor of St. George Greek Orthodox Church on January 1997. Fr. Tsoukalas is the first new pastor in 45 years and the third in 75 years at St. George. As spiritual leader of an estimated 10,000 Greeks in the Lynn area, Fr. Tsoukalas dreams of revitalizing St. George to a vibrant new parish relevant to the lives of a new generation. Since his installation many new and exciting programs have been established and old ones expanded. Our Greek School has added Ancient Greek History/Mythology, music and dance for all ages and a club for "Forever Young". New facilities have been added, a library, computer center and youth recreation room.
The job of beautifying and renovating is noticeably evident and accomplished in many areas. We have transitioned from "old" Church to a total Byzantine look, designed by Christ Kamages of San Francisco, prominent architect. On the outside of the Church classic brick arches and columns frame the new glass windows and Byzantine domes cover the towers. Inside beautiful new Byzantine icons by Alexandros Melo of Greece, have been installed in the balcony and the main area of the Church. At the rear of the Church a cultural center and sports site for the youth and adults has been updated with new offices, an expanded and updated kitchen. New bathrooms, meeting rooms and storage rooms. Elegant wood framed arches lead from the offices to the updated basketball court.
The classic brick arches and columns that frame the windows of the Church also frame the new windows of the cultural center. Updates and improvements are constantly being made and it is truly a testament to Fr. George, the Parish Council and the parishioners of St. George . . . DREAMS DO COME TRUE . . . JUST BELIEVE!