SHORELINE — They have their own language, food, country, people and culture — and now their very own church in Shoreline.
The Greeks have arrived. Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church has found a permanent home in Shoreline after two years of searching.
The church is located at an existing church structure, at what was previously St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, which disbanded in late 2005 to join with another Lutheran community nearby. A first service — which is conducted in English — took place on Feb. 5.
“We had been looking for two years,” said Rev. Tom Tsagalakis, 49. “This wasn’t even listed.”
The congregation had previously been worshiping in Kenmore’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer for seven years, ever since the church was founded in 1999, with eight families. The Greek congregation, of about 90 families, was allowed to use the facility free of charge.
“It was a hard thing to leave,” Tsagalakis said. “But it was time to leave.”
When church staff began looking for a home of their own, they initially intended to purchase a site in Edmonds, which fell through. The church’s real estate agent then contacted Lutheran church staff, who had originally intended to sell the property to developers.
“Community members were excited it was going to stay a church and not be torn down,” Tsagalakis said, “and developed into apartments or condominiums.”
The congregation is not only composed of native Greeks and Greek Americans, but many members of the congregation are converts to the Eastern Orthodox faith from diverse backgrounds, church staff say.
Since the first service at the new location, Tsagalakis said there have been many visitors — mostly people who are considering joining the church. There are only two other Greek Orthodox churches in Seattle: Church of the Assumption, located on Capital Hill and St. Demetrios, located in the Montlake area.
To prepare the church for the new congregation, some light work was undertaken, such as painting, trimming bushes, power washing the sidewalks and parking lots and decorating the sanctuary.
“Now it is time to work on the temple of our bodies and take a step back and see what needs to be healed and reconstructed and changed,” Tsagalakis said, “so we can be loving examples of our orthodox faith.”
Future plans to serve the community include a preschool in the fall and guest lecturers.
“We are still trying to feel ourselves out and what we can offer,” Tsagalakis said. “It is a great group of people who really want to serve the community.”
Stamatis Vokos, who has attended the church with his family since 1999 and served as past president of the parish council, said the orthodox approach to worship suggests that the whole body and mind should be involved in worship.
“It’s not just an intellectual exercise,” Vokos, 42, said. “You have to look at the beautiful things, beautiful smells; use all the senses.”
Vokos, who grew up in Greece, said the congregation enjoys the new location in the Echo Lake neighborhood.
“We feel this is a much better place for us to do our ministries,” Vokos said. “The Echo Lake area is beautiful.”