Sunday, August 11, 2013

                                                                                                August 11, 2013

10830 Downey Avenue

St. George Greek Orthodox Church
Downey, California

"Greek Orthodox Christians have lived in Downey since the 1950's and attended other Greek Orthodox Churches in the area.  In 1982 it was determined that enough families expressed an interest in establishing a Greek Orthodox Church in Downey.  The parish first worshiped in spaces rented from S. Marks Episcopal Church.... In 1995 the parish purchased the present property on Downey Avenues and renovated several vacant stores on the site into a Church and fellowship hall....(now across the street from the church). The doors of Saint George were opened on October 6, 2002...." (REF 1.) and the church was consecrated in 2010.

Storefronts used as a Church and fellowship hall
from 1995 to 2002

"Eastern Orthodox churches generally follow the same architectural formula-the form of a dome superimposed on a cross or a basilica.  Architecturally, the interior of Saint George is heavily influenced by elements found in the Creat Church Christ, commonly called Agia Sofia, in Constantinople (present day Istanbul), particularly in the sweeping arches and the dome.  Unlike non-Orthodox churches which use steeples and spires, the Byzantine roof is typically constructed with one or more domes.

Sanctuary Ceiling Dome

"The dome is a symbol of the union of heaven and earth.  The dome of St. George, influenced by the dome of Agia Sofia, is made of interlocking copper plates and is pierced by 24 windows and reminiscent of the dome of the Great Church floating on a sea of light.  The dome has an internal diameter of 30 feet, external diameter of 34 feet adn an internal height f 55 feet from the floor.  Externally, it is crowned with a cross which symbolizes the holiness and strength of Christ's Church.  The top of the cross is 60 feet from the ground." (REF 1.)

"In the dome is painted the icon of "Christ the Almighty".... Held up by six angels, the ring is called the 'glory' in Greek." (REF 2.)

"Saint George was designed by Sam Grillas and Mark Lawrence of Grillas, Pic, Roser and Alves of Irvine, California.  The floor space is approximately 10,000 square feet and has a designed seating capacity of 383 persons.


"The floor of the Church is in the shape of a Greek Cross with four equal arms.  There are three separate ares of the Church proper:  The Narthex, the Nave and the Sanctuary....The Narthex is the entry vestibule of an Orthodox Church....The Nave is (where) the people gather for

"The Sanctuary, or Altar, is separated from the Nave by an Icon Screen or Iconostasion.  The Iconostasion is symbolic of the Temple Veil in the Old Testament which separated the Holy of Holies from the remainder of the Temple.  On the Iconostasion are icons which are painted according to the Orthodox Tradition.  There is a definitive scheme of placement of the chief icons on the Iconostaision. The icons on the right side are those of the Lord Jesus Christ and St. John the Baptist, the Archangel Gabriel and St. Demetrios. Those on the left are, the Virgin Mary and St. George, the Archangel Michael and Sts. Constantine and Helen.

"Behind the Holy Table is a large, wooden cross bearing an icon of the Body of Christ." (REF 1.)  "On the the icon of the Virgin Mary.  Her arms are stretched out and the Christ Child is  enthroned within her..."More Wider than the Heavens". (REF 2.)

Left Transept of Sanctuary

"The right and left transepts contain figures of well known saints of the Orthodox church.  On the right lower transept are figures of male saints.....In the left transept (are) female saints...(REF 2.)

Right Transept of Sanctuary

"The internal beautification of Saint George began in 2005 with the commissioning of the iconographers Spiro Tsilikaras and Katerina Valchou of Athens, Greece to paint the icons for the iconostasion and the wall icons."  It was completed in 2010.  "The woodwork is hand carved by artisans in New York and Los Angeles." (REF 1.)  The Bishop's Throne in the front right of the sanctuary is an example of this work.  It is "where the presiding hierarch sits when he is present." (REF 1.)

Bishop's Throne

"The Greek Community in Downey shares its cultural, religious and ethnic hereitage with the annual Greek Festival held the first weekend of June each  year." (REF 1.)

Thank you: To Lina Ifantis, Secretary for information and a tour of the church.
Photos: Taken in June 2013 by SW.
Reference 1: "Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, A Brief Overview"
Reference 2: "Iconography 'Windows Into Heaven' " Saint George Greek 
                            Orthodox Church
God, be with the persecuted Christians through out the world. Amen

1 comment:

  1. Dear Ms. Wilson
    I am an Orthodox writer, English but living in Greece. I am, at the moment, preparing to republish my book, “A Glimpse of Heaven, an introduction to Greek Orthodox churches and worship for visitors” for the Kindle format. I was wondering if you could give me permission to use your photo of the bishop's throne as an illustration in the book. I will, of course acknowledge copyright.

    If you want to find out more about me or check my credentials, please visit my blog or my facebook page

    Thank you for your time

    Yours in Christ

    Chris Moorey