Southampton, NY- On Sunday, April 29th, three hundred members of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons gathered to celebrate a major milestone in the construction of their new sanctuary and its accompanying community facilities as they witnessed the elevation and installation of the Justinian Cross atop the dome of their new church, currently under construction on St. Andrew Road in Southampton, New York. Construction of the growing congregation’s new sanctuary began approximately one year ago, and is scheduled draw to completion in November of this year.
The new sanctuary is built in the classical tradition of Orthodox Christian Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture, drawing elements from the ancient Christian churches of the Eastern Roman Empire. The church is eventually to be clad in limestone and granite, with marble pillars and a sixty foot copper dome, the shape of which is already visible from route 39. “The dome of our community’s church, with this cross placed on top of it,” said Father Alex Karloutsos, “will be one of the architectural highlights of the East End. We are building a light on a hill monument not only to our faith and culture, but also to the principles of faith, love, forgiveness and peace. We hope it is something everyone will cherish and appreciate.” Fashioned from copper and stainless steel, the six foot tall and four wide cross will be the highest point and most visible element of the new church complex. Father Constantine Lazarakis explained that the “cross was designed with the traditional Orthodox Christian aesthetic in mind, its contours follow those of the Justinian Cross, a design originally used in the cathedral of Agia Sofia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), which was the largest structure in the western world for approximately a thousand years.”
Following the church services the congregation proceeded to the entrance of the new Sanctuary, where the cross was displayed. Lead by the clergy, the faithful gathered together to bless the cross with Holy Water and sang Hymns. Peter Nikiteas, the Parish Council President, exhorted “each and every one in our church family to emulate the example of the Founders by carrying triumphantly the cross given to us by our forbearers of Hellenic heritage and Orthodox Christian Faith.”
As the blessing concluded, the congregation was invited to partake in a community Barbeque and celebration while the cross was elevated and installed atop the sanctuary’s dome. Once the cross was placed, all those present were invited to enter the new Sanctuary and write their names and those of their loved ones, living and deceased, with permanent markers on the concrete slab floor, which will later be covered with marble tile. “This way, the members of our church will have their names here in this church always,” Said building committee member Gus Karpathankis, “You won’t be able to see the names, but we will know they are there, and God will know.”
For members and visitors to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, the new sanctuary and its accompanying facilities will relieve the long standing problem of overcrowding during worship services, provide a liturgical experience truer to their faith tradition, and allow adequate space for the many educational, philanthropic and social ministries offered by the church. For the broader community, the new sanctuary will add unique and beautiful element to the architectural landscape of the East End, while many charities and community projects will continue to benefit from the increasing participation and support of the Orthodox Christian Church of the Hamptons.