In December, Skordallos was elected Bishop of Zela by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. He was ordained to the episcopacy by Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of Holy Trinity in New York City on Dec. 17.
It’s a rare occurrence for a local priest to be elevated to bishop in the Greek Orthodox Church, which has just 10 bishops in the United States, said Father Panayiotis Papageorgiou, Ph.D. of Holy Transfiguration.
“It’s a very great honor for the parish,” said Papageorgiou, who has been with the parish for six years.
“That’s why we had a packed church that day. Everybody came to see him, say hello to him and receive his blessing.”
On March 18, Holy Transfiguration welcomed Skordallos’ return as an auxiliary bishop to preside over that Sunday’s Divine Liturgy, the central worship service. It’s common for a bishop to preside over a local parish’s service at least once a year. With 1,000 members, Holy Transfiguration is Cobb County’s only Greek Orthodox Church.
Skordallos was a priest at Holy Transfiguration from 1993 to 2004, before serving at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Fla.
“It was surreal watching the priest who had performed so many services in our parish for so many years now celebrating the Divine Liturgy as a bishop,” said Jim Niarchos of Marietta.
Niarchos has attended Holy Transfiguration with his wife, Kally, and four daughters, since its establishment in 1989. He served with Skordallos on the parish council and his wife was his personal secretary. Skordallos also baptized the couple’s youngest daughter, Sofia.
“He reminded us of the importance of supporting the faith as a whole,” recalled Niarchos.
“It is very easy to get self-absorbed in the challenges and goals of your individual parish and forget the spiritual mission of the greater church. He broadened our spiritual vision and responsibilities.”
Skordallos was born in Ano-Zodia, Cyprus, and was educated at the University of Athens and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, where he earned a Th.M. degree in pastoral psychology. In 1974, he was ordained a deacon and then a priest in 1978. He served several parishes as a deacon and priest in Cyprus, Greece and the U.S.
In June 2006, Skordallos was appointed chief secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese by Archbishop Demetrios, a position he continues to hold.
On Dec. 2, 2011, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate unanimously elected Skordallos Bishop of Zela. He was chosen from a list of three candidates whose names were submitted to the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
On Dec. 6, 2011, the newly elected bishop traveled to Constantinople for the ceremony of the official announcement and acceptance, known as Mikro and Megalo Minima.
There are 1.2 million Orthodox Christians in the U.S., according to recent reports. Most belong to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which has about 500 parishes in the country, according to the archdiocese. It is led by the primate of the archdiocese, presently Archbishop Demetrios.
In the U.S., the Holy Eparchial Synod is composed of the archbishop and bishops who preside over regions of the country. While the American church is independent, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is considered its spiritual leader.
“We are the mother church from which everybody else came,” said Papageorgiou.
Orthodox Christians believe they follow the direct and unchanged practices of the early Christian church, dating back to the first apostles. As such, the church celebrates Holy Week, next week, and Easter on April 15.
Located at 3431 Trickum Road, Holy Transfiguration’s midnight April 14th resurrection service is its most attended service of the year. It is open to the public.
For more information about services, visit www.holytransfiguration .info.