A Brief History of Our Parish
The first Greek Orthodox Church in Savannah was organized around 1900 but did not receive its charter until 1907. In that year a church building was purchased from the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the corner of Barnard and Duffy Streets. Deciding not to change the name they continued services under the name of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church.
The years between 1928-1937, although scarred by the effect of the Great Depression, were also the years of many firsts. The first Sunday School for children was organized in the late 20’s. The first mixed choir was organized in 1930. Robes were sewed by the mothers of the community. From this time forward choral singing of male and female voices replaced the cantor in the regular Divine Liturgy and other services.
During this time, the local chapter of the AHEPA, American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, was organized in 1923. Its purpose was to “advance and promote pure and undefiled Americanism among the Greeks of the United States, and for the benevolent aid among this nationality.”
The Archdiocese of North and South America was formed and on February 24, 1931, a new era began. “Archbishop Athenagora Day” was proclaimed in Savannah and the Archbishop officiated at Church Services.
In 1932, through the efforts of the Archbishop, the Ladies Philoptochos Chapter of St. Barbara was formed.
Our Current Site
On August 25th, 1941, the St. Paul’s Parish purchased the Lawton Memorial Building from the City of Savannah. A two year program of renovation was undertaken to transform the structure into a beautiful house of worship.
On May 9th, 1943 the new church was dedicated with Bishop Gerasimos officiating. On May 21st, 1951 the doors of the Hellenic Center opened.
In 1954 the St. Paul’s Parish hosted the 12th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Archdiocese and founded a Chapter of Senior GOYA.
The Golden years were climaxed in 1957 with a celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of the St. Paul’s Parish.
In 1958, the building behind the church was purchased and used for a Sunday School annex.
In 1963 the growing parish purchased the five remaining buildings behind the Church.
During the decade of the 1970’s St. Paul’s gave three of its sons to the priesthood: Fr. Pete Lawdis, Fr. James Carellas and Fr. John Caparisos. In the field of politics, it gave the City of Savannah, its first Greek Mayor, the Honorable John Rousakis.
In 1982, the seventy-fifth anniversary was celebrated with much spiritual and social festivity, and in 1985 the parish started its “Savannah Greek Festival”- a few days where Orthodox religion, Greek culture, heritage and hospitality can be shared with the people of Savannah and the surrounding area.
In 1998, the plans to completely redesign and change the interior and exterior began.
In January of 2000, St. Paul’s began a major renovation project. Work was done to repair and update the interior and exterior of the Church.
On May 22, 2001 the Georgia Historical Society dedicated a historical monument to General Alexander Lawton and St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church. The marker now stands outside the Church to tell everyone who passes the story of our Church.
Early 2001 marked the completion of the renovation of Church. On June 29th and 30th, 2001, the Feast Day of St. Paul, His Grace Alexios, Bishop of Atlanta officially Rededicated St. Paul’s. The weekend was full of Celebration!
St. Pauls’ celebrated it’s 100 year anniversary in 2007 with a series of celebrations that involved many past priests, and with a visit from His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta.
List of St. Paul’s Parish Priest’s
Fr. Thomas Pappageorge 1905 - 1909
Fr. Arsenios Davis 1909-1916
Fr. Seraphiem Stelidou 1917 - 1919
Fr. Marcos Petrakis 1920-1921
Fr. Michael Andreades 1921-1922
Fr. Antonios Joanides 1922-1927
Fr. Jovianos Lavrakas 1927 – 1928
Fr. Daniel Maravelis 1928 – 1931
Fr. Gerasimos Elias 1932 – 1942
Fr Agapios Golam 1942
Fr. Demetrios Lolakis 1942 – 1943
Fr. John Hondras 1943 – 1953
Fr. Demetrios Michelides 1953 – 1955
Fr. Dennis Latto 1956 – 1962
Fr. Thomas Paris 1962 – 1971
Fr. Frank Kirlangitis 1971 – 1983
Fr. Theodore Papafil 1984 – 1986
Fr. John Caparisos 1987 – 1989
Fr. Aris Metrakos 1990 – 1992
Fr. Anthony Stratis 1992 – 1995
Fr. Nicholas Capilos 1995 – 2002
Fr. Soterios Rousakis 2002 – 2004
Fr. Vasile Mihai 2005 – 2018
Fr. John Wallace 2019- 2022
Fr. Tom Guerry 2002 -