Home Church & Religion Archbishop of America Visits Fire Ravaged Jordanian Greek Orthodox parish in Yonkers

Archbishop of America Visits Fire Ravaged Jordanian Greek Orthodox parish in Yonkers

NEW YORK, NY – GreekNews USA [Photos: GOA/Dimitrios Panagos]

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America visited this afternoon [12/14] the newly formed St. George Jordanian Greek Orthodox parish in Yonkers, NY, whose community center was completely destroyed by a three-alarm fire early Tuesday [12/12] morning.  

The church and the adjacent two-story building were purchased earlier this year to establish a house of worship for the congregation of the Jordanians within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who up until recently were holding services at the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Savior in nearby Rye, NY.

The church was under renovation and investigators suspect that construction activity might have sparked the fire. The main sanctuary was about a week away from opening.

Present with His Eminence were Archdiocesan District Chancellor Fr. Elias Villis, parish priest Fr. Soterios Baroody, Archdeacon Dionysios Papiris, Fr. George Hazlaris from Our Saviour Church in Rye and many community members. 

“On behalf of the St. George Greek Orthodox Church parish, we would like to start off by saying thank you for your presence here today”, said Rewan Alrabadi, one of the younger members of the community who also serves on the Parish Council, welcoming the Archbishop. She began her heartfelt remarks with the verse from Isaiah [41:10] “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand”.

“As we endured many obstacles and setbacks throughout the establishment of our church, we remembered each step we took together and we thank God for allowing us to reach this point. When they say “there is beauty in simplicity”, this is evident to us as we prayed in a simple enclosed space just to keep our faith alive”, Rewan Alrabadi said, adding that “it is unfortunate to see that the space we prayed in as we awaited renovations and completion of our church upstairs, was all gone due to this fire. As it feels we have to start over, we have to look on the bright side that we did not lose any lives, everything is replaceable and the most important thing in my eyes, as Father Soteri [Baroodi] said, “not one bit of smoke reached our church that we worked so hard on”.

She continued saying: “For those who have spent hours on end in that building, for those who prayed every Sunday there, for those who have devoted their time and support and most importantly for those who helped make all of this possible and believed in our parish, your contributions are noticed and we thank you as well. Despite this devastation, when something brings a community together and most importantly closer to God, this is a blessing in disguise”.

According to the community, the only things that survived the fire was the Cross on the top of the altar and an icon of the community’s patron, Saint George. The icon was untouched.

“Two of the most important things to us as Orthodox Christians, a Cross and an Icon of the Saint we represent as a church, put up a fight and overcame those flames. This is how I think of our parish. As we endure these difficult times, we have to keep our faith strong, and not let the enemy win against us”, she noted.

Alrabadi thanked Archbishop Elpidophoros for his unwavering support and asked him to keep them in his prayers. “Your presence here today means more than anything to us in a time like this”, she said, thanking also Fr. Elias Villis and his “amazing parish” for “welcoming us with open arms to continue our prayer services on Sundays in their church for God is with us and we are thankful for every trial he gives us. He gives the ones who love him most, the biggest obstacles”.  

The Archbishop responded by stating that the Archdiocese is always here for the community and will support them with whatever is needed to rebuild.