The 2011 Blessing Of The Southampton Kimisis tis Theotokou Church Southampton Building Project
No man can survive on his own. It requires the help of many. Everyman is part of a bigger picture, a greater world. This applies to the ethnic community I am part of. Loyalty is carried from generation to generation for our Greek ties. One community builds another. The Greek colonies in Sicily are examples of one colony leading to another settlement, till the Roman Conquest. The Greek communities of Asia Minor were composed with a significant percentage of Cretan and Mainland refugees, who brought their friends to a better way of life, prior to the 1922 catastrophe. This is the history of the Greek Diaspora.
The North and South Forks were built by families bringing their friends and relatives to enjoy the natural beauty. This led to the rise of the Transfiguration of Christ Church, Mattituck, Sts. Anargyroi and St. Gerasimos Church, Greenport and Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church of Southampton. Recently, Lily Katos, a neighbor in Mattituck and Queens, told me “You were brought up as a child in this Church.” (Transfiguration of Christ, Mattituck). While other baby boomers were demonstrating against the Vietnam War in destructive college demonstrations, my family drew me into public relations for the building of the first Greek Orthodox Church on the East End called the Transfiguration of Christ.
One will ask what does this have to do with the ambitious building project at Kimisis Church in Southampton? There would not be a Kimisis Church if the Transfiguration of Christ Church in Mattituck did not exist first. In 1969, the groundbreaking of the Transfiguration Church commenced. North and South Forks were united with a Church of Greek Orthodox worship. The Bakas and Fotopoulos families represented the South Fork. They were friends with our first priest, Timotheos Tenedios of Imvros, from His Eminence. Archbishop Iakovos’ island in Turkey. Toula Bakas was my personal mentor. She asked me to start a Greek language and culture school for the children of their families.
According to the official History of the Kimisis Church, “It all began with a dream that was realized only after much prayer, hard work, and the generosity of both well-known great benefactors and gracious benefactors who are only known to God. Back in 1977, a few Greek Orthodox families started discussing the possibility of building a church in the area.” http://kimisishamptons.org/parishlife/history.
Their withdrawal from the Transfiguration Church in Mattituck hurt the Ministry of Reverend Timotheos Tenedios. The Hellenic culture school lost an enrollment of 50 percent. Today, a Greek School does not exist. Greenport and Mattituck residents attend the Southampton Greek language school. The church decline ended with the Greek immigration of the 1980’s from Astoria and Flushing, New York. This immigration continues to the present time.
Nektarios and Presvitera Despina Kehagias and family were personal friends. His sudden stroke weakened the new church of Southampton. In the 1980s and 90s was a time of struggle for the Kimisis Church. A stroke of good luck occurred. One of the great leaders of Christianity and the Greek Orthodox Church appeared on thy East End. Reverend Alexander Karloutsos was appointed presbyter of Kimisis Church. His charismatic personality, strong work ethic, the help of his family, friends and Archons (Defenders of the Greek Orthodox Faith) brought about a metamorphosis. For more information visit http://kimisishamptons.org/.
On May 22, Protopresbyter Alexander Karloutsos, Archpriest Sergei Glagolev, Director Emeritus of the Orthodox church of America and Presbyter Constantine Lazarakis blessed the expansion project. “The time is now right,” said Rev. Karloutsos. “This year will mark the building of our new Church,” explained Parish Council President Dimitrios Hatgistavrou. “Our Church will be a landmark in the Hamptons when completed. We thank all for their support.” His parents, Angelo and Irene Hatgistavrou were original founders of the Church in 1977. Dr. Peter Mihalos, international scholar/physician/philanthropist and mentor to medical professionals, said “we are moving ahead. Kimisis tis Theotokou Church will be an international site of the Greek Orthodox Faith and Culture.”
The backbone of the community are the following organizations and persons that are listed in the official newsletter of the Church and from my personal acquaintance: Protopresbyter Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Presbyter Fr. Constantine Lazarakis; Parish Council, President Dimitrios Hatgistavrou, Vice President Peter Nikiteas; Treasurer John Goudelias, Asst. Treasurer Christine Vamvakitis, Secretary Caterina Rallis, Council Members Stephanie Bitis, Peter Cardel, John Chobor, Constantine Frangopoulos, George Gavalas, Paul Guillo, Maria Karpathakis, Paul Maus, Anthony Mavis, Nicholas Metz, Michelle Papajohn, Bea Parash, Stavroula Raia, Theodore Velys, Daisy and Tom Lainis of The Good News newsletter, assisted by Eleni Galifianakis; Choir Directors Bea Parash and Sophia Saridakis; Altar Assistants, John Galifianakis, Paul Lourakis who recently passed away, Ed Earle; Philoptohos President Caterina Rallis; PTO Parents, President Stephanie Bitis; Hampton Hellenic Dancers Diane Candele; Bakaliko, Philoptohos; Athletic Programs, Archdiocesan District Junior Olympics, Fr. Constantine; Ministries, Acolytes, Fr. Constantine; Chanter Sophia Saridakis; Choir Bea Parash; Greek School Principal Christina Georghiou; JOY/HOPE/GOYA, Fr. Constantine and Anastasia Lazarakis; Office Secretary Jeannie Marcella; Photographers Eddie Floros and Stavroula Raia; Sunday School Director Sia Arvans; Youth Ministry Anastasia Lazarakis. For further information on persons’ commitment to the Building Project, visit http://kimisishamptons.org/buildingproject/the-building-committee.