Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral Announces Major Expansion
Last month, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, one of Montrose’s most recognizable landmarks, announced an ambitious, $12.5 million expansion that will more than double its capacity by expanding the building to the north and south. Designed by Marko Dasigenis of Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, the enlarged building will preserve the cathedral’s Byzantine style while adding a large gold dome, echoing the small gold dome that currently tops the cathedral’s bell tower.
According to Gregory Cokinos, the chairman of the church’s expansion committee, the current cathedral, built in 1952, simply could not fit the parish’s rapidly growing membership. “One of our challenges is fitting all our parishioners in the church, especially on holy days like Easter and Christmas,” he said. “We’re standing room only on regular Sundays, and then we get a huge influx during the holidays. So we wanted to be able to accommodate our entire parish.”
The expansion has been in the works for three years. Cokinos and his fellow committee members solicited proposals from several architecture firms, eventually settling on the submission by Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie. It helped that the firm’s co-namesake, Philip Johnson, designed much of the University of St. Thomas campus, which is directly across the street. But what sealed the deal was the design by Dasigenis—who, it just so happened, is himself a Greek Orthodox Christian.
“I think that helped him, because he has a strong understanding of Orthodox architecture,” Cokinos explained. “That was really useful in creating this design that we’re all so excited about. It’s going to be a magnificent, beautiful church. It might be one of the most beautiful churches in the nation when we get finished with it.” Construction is scheduled to begin in April, and will last approximately 18 months.
Cokinos said that the church’s membership has been growing steadily for years, and not just with people of Greek ancestry. “We’ve had an increasing number of converts. It’s been very interesting to see how many new members have looked at other denominations before selecting us as the church that best fits them.”
When asked what he thought appealed to them about the Greek Orthodox faith, Cokinos noted that it is considered the oldest Christian church in the world. “It was founded by the early Christians, and we haven’t changed much at all in those 2,000 years. I think a lot of people find that attractive.”
People are probably not joining the church for Joel Osteen-style uplift. Compared to many contemporary evangelical churches, an Orthodox church service is a low-key, traditional affair. “It’s a very structured service that revolves around participating in Holy Communion, and you have to be a baptized Orthodox Christian to participate,” Cokinos said. “You don’t go to an Orthodox Church to be entertained—you go there to be thankful, and prayerful.”
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral. 3511 Yoakum Blvd. 713-526-5377. agoc.org