Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral is a Greek Orthodox church at 307 19th Street South in Birmingham's Five Points South neighborhood. It is distinguished as the third oldest Greek Orthodox parish in the United States, and is also the third largest of 77 parishes in the Archdiocese's Metropolis of Atlanta. The current dean is Gregory Edwards.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church originated in 1902 with a lay committee formed, "to establish a Greek Orthodox church, also to assemble the members of the community in one place for order and social improvement." The new congregation observed its first mass in 1907.
A second congregation, the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, split off from Holy Trinity 1933, the result of a dispute which began over the operation of the Greek School, but which came to involve a basic disagreement about the role of lay leadership in the church. Approximately a third of the parishioners, including those involved in the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, formed the nucleus of the new congregation.
Efforts to reconcile the congregations had begun by 1947. Calls to merge were particularly strong from the youth groups which had been struggling to combine their social activities. Birmingham's successful bid to host the annual Greek Orthodox Youth of America convention provided an impetus to forge a reunification. Both congregations voted in favor of the proposal, and a the new Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church was created in 1953 with more than 1,500 parishioners. Holy Cross' new youth center was retained to host social functions, while the combined worship and school moved into the new educational buildings at Holy Trinity.
Meanwhile, construction of the current worship building began in 1949. It was designed by Birmingham architect George P. Turner. Unlike many American Greek Orthodox churches its floor plan is a long Latin cross, rather than a more compact Greek cross. The new altar was consecrated in 1956.
The Birmingham Festival of Arts' 1968 Salute to Greece inspired the Ladies' Philoptochos Society to begin holding an annual "Birmingham Greek Festival" to showcase traditional cuisine and culture and to raise funds for local charities. The festival was launched in 1972.
In 1977 the Archdiocese elevated Holy Trinity-Holy Cross to the status of cathedral. In the 1980s the cathedral acquired the former Birmingham Fire Station No. 2, extending its campus across the alley to 4th Avenue South. The 40,000 square-foot building was heavily renovated to designs by architect Kenneth Traweek to house church offices, meeting rooms, a large meeting hall, a library, a book store, and the St Nicholas Chapel. The completed Family Life Center was dedicated to the memory of Reverend Father Emanuel Vasilakis who died in 1995. Later that decade the church established a Cathedral Day Care and acquired land near Harpersville on which it began to develop a Camp Vakakes youth program and retreat center.
In 2017 Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral developed a new 70-space parking lot across 19th Street.
- Elias Kalariotes, 1977–1980
- Emanuel Vasilikis, 1980–1995
- Michael Sitaras (interim) 1995
- Paul Costopoulos, 1996–2019
- Gregory Edwards, 2019–
- "History of Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral" in Nancy Faires Conklin & Brenda McCallum (1982) "The Lebanese Arabic School and The Greek School, Birmingham, Alabama" Project on Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America. American Folklife Center. Library of Congress, pp. 28–36
- Lafakis, Irene (n.d.) "A Brief History of Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral" HolyTrinity-HolyCross.com - accessed May 24, 2021