DEPTFORD, NJ – Story by Stelios Lambrou [Photos: GANP/ Dimitrios Panagos]
Over 400 Greek Orthodox faithful from the Delaware Valley region of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey came out to celebrate the 12th Annual Ambassador Awards Banquet with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The Awards program was hosted by Bill and Evelyn Balis at the Adelphia Restaurant and Event Center in Deptford, NJ.
The evening’s program began with the singing of the American and Greek National Anthems by Elena Iliades, followed by the invocation by His Eminence, and a welcome by the Very Rev. Christoforos Oikonomidis, the Chancellor of the Metropolis of New Jersey.
The first award was a posthumous one to a Parish Honoree from the St. Thomas Cherry Hill community, Constantine Horiates, received by his wife Georganne. The gathering held a moment of silence in his honor.
Another highlight was the awarding to Parish Honoree and Miss New Jersey, Agostina Mallous, from the St. Demetrios community in Wildwood. Other honorees included dedicated Philoptochos members, Essential Medical Workers, and Youth Workers from all the parishes of the Delaware Valley.
Archon Didaskalos tou Genous, Dr. Tom Papademetriou, Professor at Stockton University was the Master of Ceremonies. In addition to keeping the program moving and announcing all the recipients, he led the entire room in singing American Christmas carols and the traditional Greek Kalanda, helping to usher in the Christmas spirit.
Consul of Greece in New York Dimitrios Papageorgiou in his remarks described how the awards represent fundamental Greek values. His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia addressed the gathering emphasizing how important parents and grandparents are to the raising of good Orthodox Christians. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros offered his Archpastoral Address speaking about the many and diverse gifts that each person has, each represented by one of the awards.
Ending the evening were the youth awards, presented to young people from throughout the Delaware Valley region for their dedication and devotion, representing the following categories: Ambassador of Faith, Ambassador of Hope, Ambassador of Love, and Ambassador of Peace.
Each awardee received a blessing and an award plaque from His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, as well an individual and group photo with him.