By Greg Conley:
Celebrating its recent centennial, the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation showed off its ability to preserve its history and culture.
In preparation for the Centennial Weekend (September 7-9), the parish quickly realized that new solutions were needed to preserve its history, not for only the present, but for the future as well. Instead of making a book as on previous occasions, they decided to go digital.
The Centennial historical committee researched, documented, and scanned nearly 4,000 pieces of media. A century's worth of newspaper articles, images, and video was tagged and saved within its own digital archives. Each piece contributes to the story of an ethnic group in Buffalo.
One of the more important stories was the local Greek Orthodox Church's significance in the fight for religious recognition by the state and federal governments. Originally, the church was not recognized as a religion or if at all, it was seen as some odd branch of the Roman Catholic Church. This fight for religious recognition led to the first National Pan-Orthodox Conference at Kleinhans Music Hall in 1940.
Beyond documenting its history, the Greeks have also been preservationists of their church. Built in 1901, the Hellenic Eastern Orthodox Church purchased the North Presbyterian Church in 1952. Years later in 2001, a fire severely damaged the interior of the church. In response to the devastating event, the community decided to fully restore and improve the gothic structure. From the ground up, the interior was fully restored and improved; the floor was completely rebuilt, and broken stained glass windows were restored or replaced.
The Hellenic Orthodox Church Centennial celebration itself was a major event for the community, featuring a visit by Greek Orthodox Archdiocese leaders, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit.
The weekend included events in the community as well as at the Church. Louis Grachos, director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery provided a tour of the gallery to their Eminences on Friday, September 7. Following the tour, the archbishop presented a lecture on Life After Death: A Christian Perspective. Saturday's events included a packed Youth Rally as well as a gala at Statler City's Golden Ballroom emceed by Mike Emanuel, Chief Congressional Correspondent from FOX News Channel. Over 300 attendees viewed a historical video narrating the 100 years of the Greek Orthodox Community in Buffalo. The weekend festivities concluded on Sunday, with the celebration of Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with 18 priests in attendance at the Church.
If you are interested in the community's history or their preservation efforts, the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is holding a field session with Preservation Plus. The session will take place at the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (146 W. Utica, Buffalo) at 6:30pm on Wednesday, September 26th. It will feature a tour of the church, a video of the history created for the church's centennial, and a presentation about documenting the community's history.
If you have not heard of Preservation Plus, see the link here