Cherry Hill, NJ – The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle – Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America – sponsored “The Philadelphia Smyrna Symposium” on November 19, 2022. The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Thomas was the site selected by the Archons of Greater Philadelphia.
The keynote speaker was Archon Dr. Tom Papademetriou, Professor of Historical Studies, Constantine & Georgian Georgiou Professor of Greek History and Director of the Dean C. and Zoë S. Pappas Interdisciplinary Center for Hellenic Studies at Stockton University, Galloway, NJ.
In attendance was His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, accompanied by His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, the V. Rev. Christoforos Oikonomidis, Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey, and the V. Rev. Avgoustinos Psomas, Priest of St. Thomas. His Eminence gave the invocation and spoke briefly, providing significant insights about the Patriarch’s difficulties and struggles for survival following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453.
Archon Cary J. Limberakis, Regional Commander for the Metropolis of New Jersey, introduced Dr. Papademetriou and discussed the organization and functions of the Archons, focusing on their current effort to overcome the various obstacles posed by the Turkish government to establish a center of learning in the Muslim country.
Dr. Papademetriou spoke at length on two historical events: “The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople Under the Ottomans” and “The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Great Catastrophe of 1922: History and Legacy.” In his first presentation, he recounted the history of the Orthodox Church, focusing on the Patriarchate in the various periods over the last 600+ years, from the time the Muslims were taking over Asia Minor to the loss of Constantinople, the “Consolidation and Authority” era under the Ottomans, and the “Reliance” period as the Ottoman Empire began its collapse in the 18th Century.
In his second presentation, he recounted the sociopolitical condition of Greece after World War I, the ascendance of the “Young Turks” movement in Turkey, and the abortive military adventure of Greece deep into Asia Minor, which resulted in the chaotic “Katastrophe,” the burning of Smyrna and its aftermath – the Treaty of Lausanne, which decreed the population exchange of Greek Turks forcibly relocating to Turkey and Turk Greeks relocating to Greece.
Dr. Papademetriou’s presentation was preceded by a light breakfast, served by the St. Irene Philoptochos Society of St. Thomas to the capacity audience of over 100 persons, who appreciated the scholarly, engaging, and dramatic presentation of the challenging, complex, and tragic times of the sad chapter of Greek and Greek Orthodox history. The Benediction and concluding remarks were made by His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidoforos.