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ST. GEORGE ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

ST. GEORGE ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

ST. GEORGE ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, 2587 W. 14th St., was established by the United Syrian Orthodox Society, formed 10 March 1911 with the name of St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Christian Society, to organize a church for the Syrian Orthodox Christian in Cleveland. The members of the society elected Salim Makhoul president, Girgis Gantose vice-president, Ibrahim Sahley treasurer, Rashid El-khouri assistant treasurer, Rashid Abdo secretary, and 7 other board members. Later that year the society rented a place on 684 Bolivar Ave. for worship and Bp. Raphael Hawaweeny, the head of the Syrian Orthodox Christian Diocese of Brooklyn, assigned Fr. Soulayman Mirhig as the pastor of the newly formed St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Christian Church. After World War I, and after the death of Bp. Raphael (1915), the priest of the community was transferred to another city and the people attended church services with the Melkite Syrian Community, ST. ELIAS CHURCH.

A new society was formed on 6 Nov. 1926 to reorganize the church. George Gantose was president, Mery Salim, vice-president, Joe Hanna, treasurer, and Wady Bourgaily, secretary. Visiting priests conducted the worship services in places such as the billiards room of GRAYS ARMORY and later a Seventh-Day Adventist church. The society changed the name of the church, St. Nicholas Church, and placed it under the patronage of St. George. In Dec. 1927 the society appointed Fr. Elias M. Meena as pastor of the reorganized St. George Church, a position he held for the next 24 years.

In June 1928 the society bought the Lincoln Park Methodist Episcopal Church at W. 14th and Starkweather. Fire destroyed the church in early May 1933. The 200 parish families raised $40,000 to rebuild the church, dedicated on 9 June 1935. Designed in Byzantine style, it featured a crystal chandelier designed by Fr. Meena and an inlaid altar screen crafted by a Damascus native, Dawood Deeb. In 1954 Deeb designed and constructed the Bishop's Throne for the church. By 1959 "practically all" of the liturgy was in English, in an attempt to attract younger members. A 2-story educational and cultural center, including classrooms and a gymnasium, was added to St. George in May 1964. During the 1970s the church offered courses in Arabic and hosted an annual summer festival highlighting Middle Eastern culture. The parish included 400 families in the 1990s. Rev. Andre Issa served as pastor.


St. George Orthodox Church, 40th Anniversary Commemoration, 19281968.

See also RELIGION; ARAB-AMERICANS; EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCHES.