On Sunday, June 3, the parishioners of welcomed their diocesan bishop, Bishop Michael of New York, to join them in celebrating 50 years of worship in their present church building.
The day began with the divine liturgy, followed by an outdoor procession to bless the structure, and concluded with a festive outdoor banquet in the afternoon.
The church structure, constructed in 1962, was built in the traditional Orthodox Christian architectural style featuring a raised altar at the front, with a partitioned icon screen adorned with hand painted icons. Icon above the altar and on the surrounding walls along with ornate stained glass windows were added after the initial construction was completed.
“We had simply outgrown the original church," Rev. Daniel Hubiak, rector of the parish in 1962, said. "So we took the natural steps to have a larger church in which to worship and additional space downstairs for fellowship and education afterwards.”
The weekend’s activities began on June 2 when the bishop arrived from his Bronxville residence for the festive evening vigil. On Sunday, some of the young girls of the parish greeted the bishop with rose petals as he arrived.
The Rev. Martin Kraus, present day rector, and the parish council president, George Krzeminski of Long Beach, formally welcomed the bishop to the parish. Then the nearly three-hour festive divine liturgy began. Afterwards, the bishop led the parishioners in an outdoor procession when he blessed the structure and those gathered with holy water. When the service had ended, an outdoor BBQ banquet was served for those in attendance.
“It was a great blessing to have Bishop Michael with us on this special occasion,” said Father Kraus. “We were honored to have him in our presence, and his participation made the event even more meaningful for all of us.”
Bishop Michael, who was elected two years ago to serve as the ruling bishop of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of New York and New Jersey, has parishes across New York State and New Jersey. This is his first formal visit to the East Meadow community.
Bishop Michael noted in his sermon that Solomon’s temple, as recorded in the Old Testament, was built to particular specifications to be a house worthy of God, and the same can be said for Holy Trinity Church. But, he added, what makes it truly God’s home is when the people of God fill the church and worship our Lord.
“This magnificent building is a testament to the love and dedication of the benefactors of Holy Trinity who were committed to God," he said. "It is up to us to have the same commitment today, and share our story with those we know, inviting them to share the beauty of our worship and experience of Jesus Christ.”
As part of the special anniversary celebration, Bishop Michael presented special diocesan citations to parishioners who were instrumental in the development and construction of the present church building. In recognition of the ‘next generation’ carrying on the tradition of selfless service for the church, two additional long-time parishioners, Dennis Kurtz and Loraine Babaian, also received citations from Bishop Michael.
“The Orthodox Christian Faith is very ancient, but our church here in East Meadow is practically new in comparison,” said Mark Vassilakis, a parishioner at Holy Trinity. “We hope and pray that this beautiful building will be here for generations to come, so more people can join us in worship and to receive the timeless message of Jesus Christ found in the Orthodox Church.”
Despite the brief showers of rain later in the day, the atmosphere of the day was very positive for those gathered to celebrate the past and renew their commitment for the future. During the banquet, archival memorabilia from 1962 including programs, blue prints, liturgical designs, photos, and keepsakes were on display.
An on-line photo gallery is now available here featuring images dating back to the original church, built in 1924, along with other photos of the ground breaking in 1961, and construction and consecration in 1962.
According to a Newsday clipping from December 1961, the cost of the building was well under $200,000.
“While the financial value of the building is significantly more today, in spiritual terms our church is priceless," Father Kraus noted.
Photos from the weekend’s celebration are available here.