His Eminence was elected as Archbishop of America on July 30th, 1996 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presided over by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Archbishop Spyridon, the son of Clara and the late Dr. Constantine P. George, was born George C. P. George in Warren, Ohio on September 24, 1944. His father, a native of the Island of Rhodes (Greece) practiced medicine in Houston, TX, Tarpon Springs, FL and later, Warren, Steubenville and Mingo Junction, OH before moving back to Rhodes when George was nine years old. The Archbishop returned to the United States when he was 15 years old and lived for two years in Tarpon Springs, FL, the birthplace of his mother. He completed high school there, graduating in 1962.
He returned to Greece after high school to prepare for the priesthood and soon thereafter enrolled at the famed Theological School of Halki (Turkey) from 1962-66, where he graduated with honors. He subsequently pursued graduate studies in Switzerland (1967-68) specializing in the history of Protestant Churches. Awarded a scholarship from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, he then studied Ecumenical Theology and Byzantine Literature at Bochum University in Germany (1969-73). Fluent in Greek, English, French, Italian and German, he is also extremely computer literate.
His Eminence served as secretary at the Permanent Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches (Geneva, 1966-67), and later as Secretary of the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambesy (Geneva), as well as editor of its newsletter, EPISKEPSIS (1973-76).
Ordained a deacon on November 30, 1968, and taking the ecclesiastical name Spyridon, he was ordained to the priesthood on February 1, 1976, and assigned to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Andrew in Rome, where he served until 1985.
Through his long and direct contacts with the Roman Catholic Church, he acquired a down-to-earth realism in viewing inter-church relations, a fact which contributed to his appointment in 1984 as Executive Secretary of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.
In recognition of his manifold services, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him as Titular Bishop of Apameia on November 5, 1985. He was ordained as bishop at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George on November 24 of the same year and assigned as an auxiliary bishop to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Austria and Exarchate of Italy, as it was then known. In November 1991, upon creating the Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe, the Holy Synod elected Spyridon as the first Metropolitan for the newly created Archdiocesan See. During the course of four years as Metropolitan of Italy, he created various auxiliary departments, increased the number of parishes and provided them with a more sound structure.
His Eminence made a significant contribution to the cause of Orthodox unity by incorporating various Italian Orthodox communities, giving particular attention to the youth by creating the Union of Greek Orthodox Students of Italy. Following a lapse of many centuries, he reintroduced Orthodox monasticism in Italy.
In 1992 he was appointed chairman of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation, immediately giving renewed impetus to the dialogue with this preeminent Protestant body.
He has also represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in various inter-Church missions and international meetings. His address to the Special Synod of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Europe (Rome, 1991) was of particular importance as he clearly identified the developments that were to follow in the relations between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.
The first official pastoral visit of His Eminence was an emotional return to the city of his birth, Warren, OH, and Steubenville where he lived until the age of nine. Archbishop Spyridon, commenting on his visits to communities throughout the Archdiocese, has said that: "One of the greatest joys of being Archbishop is to visit the parishes . . . it gives me an opportunity to know the faithful and be a part of their community. A community in which clergy and laity, young and old, men and women, work together for the glory of God's name."
His has underaken numerous initiatives in areas of adult religious education, inter-faith marriage and an expanded Internet presence for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and its Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the Fall of 1997, His Eminence hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch on his first official U.S. visit, which was a coast-to-coast visit spanning one month.