"So at last I was going to America! Really, really going at last! The boundaries burst. The arch of heaven soared. A million suns shone out for every star. The winds rushed in from outer space, roaring in my ears, ‘America! America!'" --from The Promised Land
Parish Council Presidents
First official Greek organization in 1901 ... the Giokaris building was a meeting place ... the church was consecrated in 1920 ... a victory picnic after the war in 1917.
Just as the present church and community center represent the latest accomplishment in the development of the Greek Orthodox community in Kansas City, Missouri, so did the founding of the parish and the construction of its first church at 14th and Broadway serve as a cornerstone for the future. Completed in 1912 and consecrated in 1920, the Broadway church was the product of an immigrant parish, a community whose people came from Greece carrying only their hopes and dreams for the future, and who banded together to share a common pride in their origin and a dedication to their faith.
History tells us that in the early 1900s there were some 5,000 or more Greeks in Kansas City. But most were itinerant railroad workers who congregated in the area near 5th and Wyandotte and eventually moved away. A small number remained in Kansas City. Many went into business for themselves and soon they banded together to form the first Greek Orthodox community.
A movement was begun in 1910 to acquire property for a church, a permanent place where services could be held, where Sunday School and Greek School classes could be developed and where other activities common to their heritage could be fostered. A corporate charter was granted by the state the same year and the property at 1423 Broadway was subsequently purchased. Fundraising efforts then began in earnest.
In 1912, the church officially opened for services under Father Vasileous Skarpas. Though small in number, its members dedicated themselves to the challenge of preserving their heritage and faith while at the same time becoming a part of their newly-adopted country.
Through the ensuing years, a number of priests served the rapidly growing parish, perhaps most notably, Father John Vasiliades from 1936 to 1941. This was a period of desperate times for everyone, with the country in the midst of a severe economic depression and World War II looming ahead. But it was also a period of intense community activity, as families grew and more relatives and friends migrated to Kansas City from Greece.
The growth and development of the Broadway church and community came to an abrupt end in 1938, when a fire destroyed the building, leaving the parish in temporary quarters until its relocation to the Linwood Boulevard church in 1941. In the interim, the Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral offered its nearby facilities to the parish, and church services were held there and occasionally at other sites in the neighborhood. Newspaper stories at the time contrasted the "stone walls and dark, high-vaulted ceilings of the Cathedral" at Grace and Holy Trinity where Father Vasiliades conducted Easter services in a "chanted ritual, unchanged since the beginning of the church."
The Broadway church was a harbinger of the future for its members and their families. As their children grew, as their economic status improved, and as they followed the gradual migration to newer neighborhoods, one fact became clear-their church, wherever located, would always be the foundation upon which they would build the future for generations to come. Thus, the Broadway years ended amid the emotions of past memories and hope for the future.
Remember: Drexel Hall ... Walnut Grove ... Swope Park ... AHEPA picnics ... Greek School ... more Greek School ... and "Pop" Dabney and the choir.
"The true past departs not; no truth or goodness realized by man ever dies or can die; but all is still here, and, recognized or not, lives and works through endless changes."