Tulsa's Greek Orthodox Church Members Tied to Tradition, Heritage

Monday, September 20th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

For some, old time religion brings comfort in a world of change. Worship at the Tulsa's only Greek Orthodox church is the same as it was a thousand years ago. As the church prepares to celebrate its Greek festival, the News on Six takes a look at the church and its worship.

A cross sets atop the dome of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and the icons of Christianity fill the sanctuary. The church attracts a small but committed group of believers, most with Greek heritage. "Most people come here because this is where they tie into their culture and their heritage and their faith," said Father Bill Christ.

The priest conducts the service in Greek to preserve the heritage of the church, and in song to preserve the beauty of their ancient worship. The tradition drew Stella Austin back to the Orthodox Church, which she first attended as a child. "It's been going on like this for thousands of years," she said. "I'm here now, but it will continue to go on like this after I'm gone. For me that's real comforting to know that I'm a part of something that is so much bigger than me."

Orthodox Christianity strives to maintain the style of the original church without conforming to changing ideas of worship. "It's been serving us well for 1700 years," said Father Christ. "Our primary goal is to worship and praise God so we're not here to receive as much as we are to give."

Each service builds to communion, which Orthodox Christians believe is not just symbolic but, is the body and blood of Christ. "It can hardly be routine when you're talking about the actual presence of God at this service," said Holy Trinity Member John Kontogianes. Orthodox Christians believe their church is the closest thing to the original church, something too perfect to be changed by modern times.

Tulsa Greek Orthodox Church hosts the annual Greek Holiday, which begins Thursday. Tours of the church and seminars on Orthodox Christianity are scheduled throughout the weekend.