On Sunday, July 8/21, 2013, the inaugural Divine Liturgy was served at the newly-formed parish of St. Haralampus in Orlando, Florida, by His Grace Bishop Gregory of Brookline. Approximately 25 to 30 persons were in attendance.
A parish has been desperately needed in Florida for several reasons. Many faithful often travel to Florida to visit family, take business trips or vacations, and need a place to attend the church. In addition, there are faithful who reside in Florida who have been conducting Reader’s services in their homes and had no local parish home.
Several faithful from New Hampshire, who often travel to the Orlando area to visit family, desired to show their families, some non-Orthodox and some new calendar Orthodox, our true and holy Orthodox faith by means of example. So, with the help of Father Isaac and the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, a building was secured for the parish.
A foreclosed home located just north of the Orlando International Airport was acquired six months ago. Much of the interior of the home was knocked to the studs to make it habitable. The cinder-block wall between the garage and living room was knocked down to form the altar and the iconostasis and royal doors. The church also serves as the trapeza. In addition, the home has a small kitchen. There are two bedrooms, still undergoing renovation, and two bathrooms as well. There is a sizable backyard with lush green grass which has great potential.
When Bishop Gregory arrived, he busily got to work hanging the icons and preparing the altar and the church for services. Peter Masterjohn of Ipswich, MA, used his amazing woodworking skills to build a cleros and other liturgical tables for the church. He also chanted during Vespers and the Divine Liturgy.
God provided many helpers, including some non-Orthodox, who painted, cleaned, and helped with the final touches, preparing the church for services.
It will be only fair to say, however, that none of this would have been possible without the initiative and diligence of George Mylonakis and his family, through whose tireless efforts, an old, unkept house was transformed into a beautiful Orthodox chapel. May our Savior bless them for the zeal that they have shown for the Church.
Glory to God for all things!