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Deep in the heart of a typical American city there is a magnificent old Orthodox church. The community housed here was founded about a hundred years ago, a gathering of families who had emigrated from Greece, Russia, Syria, or some other ethnically-Orthodox land.
These newcomers found America vast, confusing, and intimidating. They banded together and formed a congregation, then called a priest from the “old country.” The growing parish was an island of familiarity, a place where they could not only worship in the language they longed all week to hear, but also share news from home, enjoy the foods and dancing that eased homesickness, and choose mates for their growing children.
Time passed. The parishioners saved up and bought a church building from a Protestant congregation. They beautified it lavishly, with icons that looked vaguely Italian, in a 19th century devotional style.