Book of Memories
Greek Orthodox Church looks back in time
By LeAne Rutherford
Celebrating 100 years, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in East Sacramento has published a compendium of its history, family stories, memories, parochial groupings and historical photographs.
“Celebrating 100 Years: Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation” is not to be taken lightly. The book is a ton of tome, weighing 7 pounds. The two-year project “was done with love and devotion,” says church docent Pauline Cazanis.
“Getting the history of our Greek community written down is something special,” says Terry Kastanis, Keeper of the Papers for the Church of the Annunciation. He sees the book as important because it is not only a “history of the church and its community, but a history of Sacramento.”
The album leads readers on a historical journey of an energetic church that never stands still. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church is ever building and expanding. Embracing its congregants—more than 600 families—the church has evolved to meet the needs of all ages and interests. The book explores the church’s parish governance, groups and organizations, as well a youth ministry, choir, dance classes and even a senior league for get-togethers.
Stories in the anecdotal and retrospective sections detail how church members know how to turn straw into gold. Sophia Evrigenis tells how a minor animosity between several Greek associations was resolved by forming a Hellenic bridge group of 30 women. The camaraderie created by weekly bridge lessons and monthly play solved the problem. The $12 yearly membership fee was used for Sunday school equipment, library books and philanthropic efforts.
One hundred years of history are depicted in black and white and sepia photos. In wedding shots from 1924 and earlier, brides elaborately dressed for their time looking fetchingly old-fashioned.
The Greek Language School, founded in 1924, still functions today to instruct children in the liturgical language of the church, as well as the language of their families and forebearers. In the past, classes were held in different places with various instructors. Today, they are offered at the Hellenic Center on church grounds.
After regular school, children attend the language school three times a week for several hours. The school is a crucial part of their education. Language is a vehicle for sharing and perpetuating culture. With fewer Greek newcomers to America, the need to learn Greek is even more vital.
The Byzantine church was built in 1952 at Alhambra and F streets across from McKinley Park. Inside the basilica, dominated by a dozen large stained-glass windows, it is cool and serene. At the front of the church, the eye is drawn to a wall of saints and sacred images gilded to symbolically reflect the radiant light of God.
The ceiling features a dome centered by a massive mural of Christ surrounded by individual murals of the apostles. The church today is a far cry from the stable on N Street where the first Divine Liturgy was held Christmas Day 1921.
Praying, playing and working together cement this congregation as it plans for further development, growth and sharing. The 100th anniversary book is an heirloom to be cherished.
For more information, visit www.annunciationsac.org/100years.
LeAne Rutherford can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.