Our Parish: Yesterday and the Future
The early Greek Orthodox immigrants came to Dayton, Ohio, individually, not as a group. It is hard to fully comprehend the faith, courage and strength of these immigrants, who, with the blessings of their families, left war torn Greece, and came to America to start a new life. They were coming to a new land without knowing the language. Chris Politz came in 1880, followed by Thomas Caroompas, Charles Zonars moved to Dayton in 1902, and Harry Chakeres in 1903. They wrote back home that Dayton was a good and beautiful place with plenty of jobs. Caroompas brought his son, Sam whose peanut stand in front of the Dayton Courthouse, became a favorite stop for downtown business people. In 1900, Dayton had the 45th largest population in the nation and 33rd in highest wages paid.
By 1910, there were more than 15 families. These immigrants found strength in the friendships developed and shared faith. As their numbers increased through additional immigrations, marriages, and births, their religious needs were provided for by a monthly visit of itinerant mission Greek Orthodox priests who were assigned to Southern Ohio. These visiting priests were paid by individual donations. Their numbers grew, and religious services were held in a space over the William Hanes Restaurant on South Ludlow. By 1921, there were over 65 families, many of whom lived in the Robert Blvd. neighborhood. The area is now the campus of Sinclair College. Bound and determined to preserve and perpetuate their faith, language, customs, and traditions they turned their attention to establishing their own church. A fund drive amassed $5,000 so they were able to purchase an existing small church at 15 South Robert Blvd.
It is impossible to individually recognize all parish members who through the years contributed their prayers, time, talent and finances to make possible the incredible growth and progress of the parish. Some names are noted because of extraordinary efforts in achieving milestones. Of course this parish like every other experienced some hard times, the Depression, losing family members in the wars, constant maintenance of the buildings and economic ups and downs of the region.
With the facilities in place, the community grew with worship, schools, programs and activities. Along with Sunday School, the Greek School for children grew to include an adult program. Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) continues to sponsor very popular Metropolis-wide basketball tournaments. The parish has hosted Clergy Laity Conferences and the Choir has hosted Mid-Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians (MEFGOX) conventions. Philoptochos maintains a full lending library focusing on the Greek Orthodox faith. The St. John Chrysostom Oratorical contest has many participants as do the Metropolis summer camps. A fund is established to focus charitable donations, special education programs and on a scholarship program for students from this parish. The Greek Festival is now a major Dayton event, and Philoptochos charitable works have touched people and agencies throughout the region, nationally and internationally.
Today, we are made up of Americans, Greeks, Arabs, Romanians, Slavs, and other nationalities. Around 95% of the marriages throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are between an Orthodox Christian and a non Orthodox Christian. Our future will be one where we as Christians practice unity in essentials, diversity in non-essentials, and charity in all things for the glory of God and his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox Church.