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New Home Consecrated for the Oldest Parish

The first Antiochian Orthodox parish on the west coast celebrated the consecration of its new church temple on Sunday, Sep. 19, 2004, with Metropolitan Philip and Bishop Joseph leading an overflowing assembly of clergy and laity for a joy-filled celebration.

Pictorial Review

Consecration and 75th Anniversary Celebration
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church
Portland, Oregon

September 17-19, 2004



O Master, Lord our God, Hope of all the ends of the Earth, hear us sinners who make our supplications unto Thee, and send Thine all-Holy and Adorable and Almighty Spirit, and sanctify this temple and this altar table. Fill it with the Light Everlasting; elect it for Thy dwelling-place; make it the abode of Thy Glory. ...
                                   Excerpt from one of the prayers of consecration



St. George Orthodox Church of Portland was the first Antiochian parish on the west coast when it was established in 1930, when Syrian Orthodox Christian immigrants paid $700 for a church building on Southeast 62nd, near Foster.

The parish moved to larger quarters in 1965, buying a church building at 115th and Holgate, but it did not take long to outgrow it.

In 1998 Metropolitan PHILIP broke ground for the construction of a traditional Orthodox church at Northeast 162nd. The community began using the new temple in 2001 as finishing touches and hall construction continued, culminating in a joy-filled celebration September 17-19, 2004.

Exterior view of the newly consecrated church temple and fellowship hall/classroom buildings of St. George Orthodox Church at

2101 NE 162nd Ave (at St. George Street)
PO Box 20695
Portland, OR 97294
(503) 255-6055
V. Rev. Father Alban West, pastor

The celebration opened Friday evening, Sep. 17, with a gala dinner for the entire parish and the arriving bishops, clergy, relocated parishioners and friends.

The next morning, the church school children and then the teens had some tough questions for Metropolitan PHILIP and Bishop JOSEPH in the new church.

Here an inquisitive boy asks his Eminence if his crown were heavy. Metropolitan PHILIP brought out his mitre and showed it to the children. (Maybe the lad will be a bishop someday, so he can have his own?!)

Metropolitan PHILIP, Bishop JOSEPH and Fr. Alban pose with the younger children and their teachers in front of the iconostasis.

The iconostasis came from the church on Holgate Blvd, but the icons are all new. Additional iconography in the apse and on the walls throughout the temple will be completed over time, as funds allow.

Saturday evening, following Great Vespers, the parish celebrated with a Banquet in the new church fellowship hall.

In his banquet keynote message, his Eminence challenged the parish not rest at having built a building but to be the living, breathing Body of Christ, bearing witness to Him in a world that so desperately needs the truth and moral guidance of the Orthdodox Faith. He urged those gathered to work for full administrative unity of all Orthodox in North America, so that thereby we may speak with a clear voice.

The Archbishop also bestowed the Antonian Gold Medal, the highest award for laity, upon William F. Bitar, a humble and tireless member of the parish who headed the building committee.

Near the end of the Matins service (morning prayers) on Sunday, Sep. 19, Metropolitan PHILIP presided at the consecration of the new church temple, with Bishop Joseph, Fr. Alban and many clergy from local sister parishes and from the around the west coast concelebrating.

Here, Metropolitan PHILIP, vested in a savanon, washes the new altar table. Protosyngellos of the Archdiocese, Fr. Paul Doyle, who pastored the Portland parish from 1977 to 1985, and others look on.

Fr. Alban West, Pastor of St. George parish, and other clergy join in washing the altar.

The consecration service is modeled after baptism. In a sense the altar and the entire building are baptized and made Christian. They are now dedicated to the service of God alone, reclaimed for His Kingdom.

Bishop JOSEPH joins the Archbishop in drying the holy table. Bishop JOSEPH had been enthroned just one week earlier as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West. He also serves as locum tenens for the new Diocese of the Northwest (that encompasses Portland) until a new bishop is installed.

First the altar is washed with soap and water. Then it is dried, washed again with rosewater and dried yet again.

The holy table is then vested with the white inner garment (à la the baptism gown), anointed with the holy chrism, and then fully dressed in its outer garments. The tabernacle, Gospel book, candlesticks, etc. are placed onto the altar, each item being individually blessed with holy water.

In the square cavity in the center of the holy table are sealed relics of a saint and a list of all parish members at this time.

The Metropolitan then went throughout the temple anointing its walls with the holy chrism. He used a sponge soaked in chrism at the end of a long pole.

In this view one can also clearly see the beautiful, fully 'dressed' altar table within the sanctuary.

Metropolitan PHILIP chrismates the walls of the baptistery transept/apse.

The new temple features a full-size, sunken adult baptistery.

A packed and overflowing crowd follows the clergy as the Archbishop anoints all the walls with chrism.
Some of the architectural features and scale of the new church may be observed in this view. The temple is bright yet warm and graceful.
Following the consecration, the Divine Liturgy began, where thanks was given to the Lord in the Eucharist, with the offering of the Gifts and the sacrifice of praise.

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy Fr. Paul Doyle and Fr. James Bernstein (Dean of the Pacific Northwest parishes) escorted Fr. Alban to stand before Archbishop PHILIP, and the latter blessed him, elevating Fr. Alban to the dignity of Archpriest (proto-presbyter to be precise). It came as a total surprise to Fr. Alban.

Normally pastors are not eligible for elevation until they have served well for a minimum of ten years. His Eminence noted this fact and declared, "Sometimes we need to make exceptions, because Fr. Alban is an exceptional priest."