History of our church
History of Evangelismos tis Theotokou
It is once again time to recall the extraordinary commitment and uncommon vision of twelve men who organized and incorporated a new church for the Greek Orthodox faithful of Jersey City. “Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church of Hudson County” was incorporated on April 25, 1935 and housed in a small frame structure on Montgomery Street and Summit Avenue. This single building served as the house of worship, the community center and the Greek school. All this was happening at a time when immigrants, from Greece, were arriving in large numbers who yearned to communicate with others of their own faith and language. Education was very important to these visionary pioneers because they understood that it was the only way to preserve and perpetuate Greek culture and heritage in Hudson County for future generations. These twelve committed pioneers were:
ANTHONY DEDOPOULOS, ERNEST LAILAS, THEODORE G. ANTOS, EFTHYMIOS TSAGARIS, CONSTANTINE SYMEONIDES, STERGIOS DIMITRIOU, VASILIOS DIMITRIOU, CHRIST GACOS, PETER GRANT, STEPHANOS PARASKEVAS, THOMAS TSIBIKAS, E.G. VAFFEAS. They are all deceased now, but their memory will live forever because they bequeathed us a strong foundation on which to build our future.
As the years passed and the parish grew, it became the spiritual and social center for the Greeks of Hudson County. In the early sixties the community acquired the property adjacent to the Church known then as the Borden’s Property. On that land was built the Community Center. Completed and opened in 1979, the center houses the Greek school, the sports center for our youth and the meeting hall for various special occasions.
The growth and progress of our community can be attributed to the diligence, devotion and sacrifice of our parishioners, our benefactors, our parish presidents and their parish councils. Credit for this progress is also due to Philoptochos Society “St. Anna”, the Parent Teachers Organization, the Greek schoolteachers and Youth Advisors.
Commitment and vision was also shown by the late Charles Didymos and the late Theodore Lappas who signed for the mortgage of the beautiful edifice that houses our Church completed in 1955. Commitment and vision continued with the signature of twenty devoted parishioners to be responsible for the mortgage to build the Community Center completed and opened in September of 1979.
During these eighty years we were also inspired by the spiritual guidance of our clergy – the Rev. George Stefas; Rev. Athanasios Kessaris; the Very Rev. Archimandrite Joseph Pitsonis; Rev. Peter Raptelis; Rev. Dr. John Poulos; Rev. James Christon; Rev. John Maheras; Rev. Demetrios Vakaros; Rev. Vasilios Kapsalis; the Very Rev. Archimandrite Paul Koutoukas and the Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios N. Kogias, whose pastorate since 1993 saw many changes in our parish. These include the burning of the mortgage of our Community Center through the efforts of Demetrios Varianides and the donation of some thirty faithful parishioners, cosmetic renovations to the interior of the Church and the financial drive to install new heating and air conditioning units to our Center. Father Nektarios was also instrumental for receiving and awarding the Cross of Saint Paul to twelve parishioners and the installation of two members of our Parish as Archons of the Order of Saint Andrew, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a lay person of our faith. The two Archons of our Parish are Andreas D. Comodromos, Ofikion Dikaiophylax and John A. Mehos, Ofikion Kastrinsios. Under the spiritual guidance of Father Nektarios and the Parish Council our Parish continued to prosper. The unexpected illness of our beloved pastor Archimandrite Father Nektarios and his untimely death on May 7, 2008 further saddened our Parish. Rev. Fr. Dionysios A. Marketos who had been temporarily assigned to serve our parish was permanently assigned by His Eminence Metropolitan EVANGELOS July of 2008. Father Dionysios has taken on his duties with great determination and ambition and under his guidance our Parish will continue to grow. He has embraced his new parish with love and offers spiritual guidance to young and old alike. He works very close with the Parish Council and the Director of Greek School, Mrs. Stavroula Mergoupis, for the smooth operation of his parish. On March 24, 2010, at the Great Vespers of Evangelismos Tis Theotokou, His Eminence EVANGELOS, Metropolitan of New Jersey, bestowed the Ecclesiastic Title of ECONOMOU to Father Dionysios, and later received the Ecclesiastic Title of Protopesbyter.
In the year 2013 a large and much needed project began under the direction of Parish Council member Dionysios Koukounaras THE HANDICAP RAMP and was completed the same year with the financial assistance of many parishioners. We have also had the help of our Philoptochos “St. Anna” to install Air Condition units and a large donation for the KITCHEN FUND (renovation of our Center kitchen) under the direction of President Dionysios Koukounaras. The heating system of the main portion of our Center and classrooms is also being renovated through a sizable donation from the Society of Sons of Agathopolis as they terminated the Society. We thank them for their unending support over the many years of their existence.
The visions and dreams of the twelve founders have become a reality. Our prayer for the future is that this growth will continue and add to the legacy of
Evangelismos tis Theotokou