REVEREND ATHANAS G. GEORGE, CHURCH OF ANNUNCIATION
Among the nine Orthodox jurisdictions in the nation, including the Russian, Albanian and Serbian orthodox churches, the Greek Orthodox is the largest, with an estimated 1.5 million in the United States and 50,000 in Metro Detroit.
In many ways, according to the Reverend Athanas George, The Annunciation (Evangelismos) Greek Orthodox Church is the first and most significant of their meeting places. Founded in 1910, it soon became the center of Detroit's Hellenic community, which dates back to the early 1890s. The first Liturgy was held in a rented hall on Miami Boulevard (now Broadway). By 1913, Annunciation occupied a new edifice at 660 Macomb Avenue. In April 1968, six years after it was designated a Cathedral of the Detroit diocese, Annunciation moved to its present site at 707 E. Lafayette Blvd.
This location, near Greektown, is doubly significant, according to Father George, especially on Greek Independence Day. “The date on which Greeks celebrate their successful struggle against the Ottoman Empire, March 25, coincides in the Orthodox calendar with the Feast of the Annunciation—the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb. So on this Holy Day, we can celebrate both the magnificent victory of the Greek people and the salvation of mankind.”
The Independence Day Parade is a yearly event, drawing thousands to Greektown to celebrate. Father George draws parallels to this vibrant community and his own church, whose decision to remain downtown when many other Orthodox churches have relocated in the suburbs is in fitting with an almost sacred loyalty to heritage.
Says Father George: “Greektown is here to stay. And so are we.”