Vorhees, NJ – On November 11, 2022, the Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church community of Cherry Hill, NJ, came out en mass to partake in its 55th anniversary. The Gala was an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary spectacularly at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ. The Gala also served as a fundraiser to kick off the church’s “For The Ages” iconography project as the facility, food, and drink was most graciously donated by the Baroody and Kolovos families, parishioners themselves of the Saint Thomas Church community.
Saint Thomas opened its doors in 1967. The original church members attended services at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Philadelphia. Today, this community is the largest in the Delaware Valley, serving three counties in South Jersey and many from the City of Brotherly Love.
President of the community George G Horiates, Esq. thanked the Baroody and Kolovos families. He noted the 55th anniversary is often referenced as an Emerald anniversary. “These families, by their love of our community and their sacrifice, are our Emeralds,” stated Mr. Horiates. Both families came forward for presentations of large icons for the occasion and were met with a loud and protracted standing ovation from the community.
The remarks provided by V. Rev. Archimandrite Avgoustinos Psomas of Saint Thomas centered on his first year in the church, a thank you to the parishioners, and his hopes and dreams for its future. The Chancellor of the Metropolis of New Jersey, V. Rev. Archimandrite Christoforos Oikonomidis, gave a stirring recitation of his relationship with the church, the first church he was appointed to in the United States. In his speech, he discussed the church’s history, his role in the most recent dome project within the church, the family that constitutes the parish members, and his joyous experiences here.
“What makes the community unique is that it rarely has rested on its laurels,” stated Charles Sandilos, Esq and co-chair of the event. Tassos Efstratiades, Esq. VP of the church council remarked, “The community entered a new phase in 2017 with the completion of a Byzantine-appropriate facade and recently completed a dome and belltower, converting the original to celebrate its faith, heritage, and culture. Thus, this 55th anniversary and its proceeds mark the unveiling of the iconography project “For The Ages,” which will define this great community in the future.”
The most impressive remarks of the evening were those of His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Media, whose address centered on the community’s faith and its members. His Grace cited the Baroody and Kolovos Families as examples of this faith which is the indispensable ingredient of the success of Saint Thomas Church over the years. Indeed he encouraged it; the confidence of all its parishioners has led and will guide Saint Thomas to greater heights. He expressed his profound appreciation to the evening’s sponsors, including those who gave selflessly in raising funds. He called upon them to do even more for this shining beacon and extension of The Great Church of Christ.