By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
At the Golden Anniversary of the Thyranoixia of the
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
Green Valley Country Club
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
November 5, 2022
Your Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia,
Presbyter John Johns of this wonderful Annunciation Parish,
Parish Council President Constantine Dalson,
Golden Thyranoixia Anniversary and Banquet Co-Chairs:
Mary O’Hara and Christine Ferello,
Esteemed Philoptochos Sisterhood and Parish Organization Heads,
Dear Golden Jubilee Sponsors, Archons and Members of Leadership 100,
Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This fifty-year anniversary since the Opening of the Doors – the Thyranoixia – of this wonderful church is truly an occasion for celebration. For it is indeed a “pentecostal” moment for your parish.
In the liturgical life of our Church, as in the Old Testament, the Feast of Pentecost comes exactly fifty days after Pascha – or, for our Jewish Brethren, fifty days after Passover. In the Book of Exodus, this is when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. In the Book of Acts, this is when the Disciples received the Holy Spirit.
And tonight, in Elkins Park, we observe with much joy and gladness the fiftieth year since the opening of your church. Just as in both Exodus and Acts, this parish had leadership who brought you to the achievement of a New Sanctuary. And in a genuine spirit of brotherly love – the very essence of the City of Philadelphia – you have leaders who have brought you to the present moment fifty years later.
We remember those who came before us; for their names ring out with honor and grace: the ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos, who opened the doors with his archiepiscopal staff; the priest and parish council president of that time; the blessed Protopresbyter John Limberakis; and Dr. Anthony G.B. Borden, whose children are with us tonight. They continue their parents’ offices of leadership and vision in our Church, by serving in many high capacities and national positions.
And there are many among you who remember that beautiful day, and the love and sacrifice that brought this very special community to the success and achievements of which you should all be very proud in. Yet, the passage of these five decades are also a moment of reflection on where your community is going.
This parish of the Annunciation is over one hundred years old, with a glorious history of the pioneer Greeks of America. Their sacrifices must never be forgotten; for it was their vision that enabled this Thyranoixia in the first place.
You stand on the shoulders of these giants. Here at this important milestone for the community, you have the opportunity to give due pause and consideration to your future.
As I said before, the number, “Fifty,” has one meaning in Exodus and another in the Book of Acts, but they both speak to accomplishing the will and work of God. In Moses receiving the Law of God – the Ten Commandments – we see the practice of ethical and moral behavior. In the Holy Spirit descending upon the Disciples in tongues of fire, we see the inner transformation of the human person to become a channel of divine love in the world. The former inspires conformity, and the latter sparks transformation. Both are necessary.
As you look forward to your next fifty years, I want you to consider the anniversary of the Thyranoixia of your beautiful church as a starting point. The Temples in which we worship are containers for the corporate, liturgical life of the Church. But even the most sumptuous treasure chest is not more precious than the jewels that it holds.
You, my beloved Christians, are the jewels of the Church. And each of you has different facets. Some are larger; some are smaller; some are more polished than others. But all of you shine with the Spirit of God. All of you are of inestimable value; for you are each the unique image of God.
In the next fifty years, let us see how this marvelous Community can find every person’s distinctiveness – their special inner qualities that bring to the fullness of the Church even more light and radiance.
May the Lord always bless you to be worthy of the Opening of the Doors of your Church, and to open the doors of your hearts, so that they might welcome all who pass your way.
The Annunciation – to which your Church is dedicated – is perhaps the greatest opening of a door in human history. With a simple assent to the word of an Angel – γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου – the Holy Virgin opened creation for the Creator.[*] May we all open the doors of our hearts, minds and souls to the goodness of God, and thus be the precious jewel of a human being that He has created us to be.
Thank you, and again, congratulations to all!
Photos: Stelios Lambrou
[*] Luke 1:38.