Home Church & Religion St. Thomas Church in Cherry Hill, NJ, Celebrates 55th Anniversary

St. Thomas Church in Cherry Hill, NJ, Celebrates 55th Anniversary

The Baroody and Kolovos families were presented icons by His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medea. Pictured also NJ Metropolis Chancellor Fr. Christophoros Oikonomides, Fr. Augoustinos Psomas and parish president George Horiates. Photos by Stellios Lambrou

VOORHEES, NJ – Story & Photos by Stellios Lambrou

The St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church of Cherry Hill, NJ, celebrated its 55th anniversary with a Gala on November 11 at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ. The Gala also served as a fundraiser to kick off the church’s ‘For The Ages’ iconography project as the facility, food, and drink was most graciously donated by the Baroody and Kolovos families, both of whom are members of the community.

St. Thomas Church opened its doors in 1967. The original church members attended services at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Philadelphia. Today, this community is by far the largest in the Delaware Valley, serving three counties in South Jersey as well as many from the City of Brotherly Love.

Parish Council President George G. Horiates, Esq. thanked the Baroody and Kolovos families and noted that the 55th anniversary is often referenced as the emerald anniversary. “These families, by their love of our community and their sacrifice, they are our emeralds,” said Horiates. Both families came forward for presentations of large icons for the occasion and were greeted with a standing ovation from the community.

The Hellenic Heritage Dancers pose for a photo with His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medea, NJ Metropolis Chancellor, Fr. Christophoros Oikonomides and Fr. Avgoustinos Psomas.

In his remarks, Archimandrite Fr. Avgoustinos Psomas focused on his first year as presiding priest at the St. Thomas Church, thanking the parishioners, and sharing his hopes and dreams for its future.

Chancellor of the Metropolis of New Jersey, Archimandrite Fr. Christoforos Oikonomidis spoke movingly about his relationship with St. Thomas Church, the first church he was appointed to in the United States, its history, his role in the most recent dome project, and how the community is like a family. He also shared his joyous experiences at St. Thomas.

“What makes the community unique is that it rarely has rested on its laurels,” stated Charles Sandilos, Esq., co-chair of the event. His fellow co-chair, Stavros Antonakakis, remarked that “from its beginnings the original pioneers made the American Hellenic Orthodox Center in Camden, a building housing AHEPA and its Greek School for 50 years, sold that property making it possible to open the doors to the present day St. Thomas Church built in 1967, and opened the now-named Danielle Kousoulis Cultural Center attached to the church in 1977, opened the John Balis Educational Building in 2006 which houses the largest Greek school in the Metropolis of New Jersey, and opened its St. Thomas Senior Housing Center in 2016.”

 Parish Council President George Horiates with wife Lisa along with Stathis and Michelle Karadonis

Tassos Efstratiades, Esq., Parish Council Vice President, remarked that “the community entered a new phase in 2017 with the completion of a Byzantine-appropriate facade and recently completed a dome and bell tower converting the original to celebrate our faith, heritage, and culture. Thus this 55th anniversary [gala] and its proceeds marks the unveiling of the iconography project ‘For The Ages’ which will define this great community in the future.”

The most impressive remarks of the evening were those of His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, Archiepiscopal Vicar of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, whose address centered on the faith of the community and its members. His Grace cited the Baroody and Kolovos families as examples of this faith, which is the indispensable ingredient of the success of St. Thomas Church over the years. Indeed, he declared, it is the faith of all its parishioners that has led and will guide St. Thomas to greater heights. He expressed his profound appreciation to all of the evening’s sponsors, including those who gave selflessly in raising funds and called upon them to do even more for this shining beacon and extension of The Great Church of Christ.

The Hellenic Heritage Dancers