Posts tagged 1908
Jim Lucas is the president of the Greek Historical Society of the San Francisco Bay Area, a non-profit corporation based at Annunciation Cathedral in San Francisco. The organization is dedicated to the preservation of Greek history and culture in the San Francisco area. Jim has been actively researching the history of the Greek community for several years and is writing a book “The Greeks of San Francisco” which will be released at a future date.
The Orthodox faith has had a presence in San Francisco since at least 1857, and the first Russian Orthodox church was founded in 1868. The Greeks that settled in San Francisco during those early years worshipped at the Russian Orthodox Church until Holy Trinity was founded in 1904.
Those of you that live in the San Francisco area are familiar with two Greek churches in San Francisco, Holy Trinity and Annunciation Cathedral. Holy Trinity is the oldest Greek church west of Chicago and Annunciation Cathedral was founded in 1921. Most Greeks are very surprised to learn that there was a third Greek Orthodox Church that existed for a brief period.
In 1908 there was a disagreement over parish council elections and the handling of money at Holy Trinity. The disagreement turned violent on July 12, 1908, when police were called to Holy Trinity (San Francisco Call, 7-13-1908, “War Raged at the Door of the Sanctuary”). A faction led by Ioannis Kapsimalis (former parish council president and Greek Consul) decided to start their own church. They acquired land on Rincon Hill (35 Stanley Place), built a church which they named St. John Prodromos (see photograph). They built offices and a meeting hall which they named the “Alexander the Great Meeting Hall.” They hired Father Constantine Tsapralis as their first priest (There is a common misunderstanding that Fr. Tsapralis’ service at Holy Trinity was continuous from 1903 – 1936 which is not true). The Holy Trinity community in turn hired Fr. Stefanos Macaronis as their next priest.
On December 2, 1909, the factions resolved their differences and St. John Prodromos ceased to exist. Fr. Tsapralis was rehired by Holy Trinity and Fr. Stefanos Macaronis moved to a parish in Oregon. From 1910 until Holy Trinity was raised to install a meeting hall in 1922, this property served as the offices and meeting hall for the community. There are numerous news articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Call relating to Greek community events that were held at the Alexander the Great Hall. This building was a vital part of Greek community life.
Mr. Peter Bergevin, the owner of the property, passed away at December 27, 1911 at the age of 68. Mr. Bergevin willed the property to Holy Trinity. On June 23, 1915, a hearing was held regarding Mr. Bergevin’s estate. His daughter, Mrs. Adeline Telfer, deeded the property to Holy Trinity on July 20, 1915 pursuant to a court order regarding the estate of her father. (Click here to view the document).
The property was later sold to the State of California to make room for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge closing this early chapter San Francisco Greek history.
Jim Lucas is the President of the Greek Historical Society of the San Francisco Bay Area and can be reached by email at email@example.com. More San Francisco Greek historical material can be found at www.sanfranciscogreeks.com.
The following remarkable story appeared in the New York Times on May 1, 1908. If anyone can provide more information, please email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
BABY LEFT IN CHURCH; SOCIETY TO ADOPT IT
Advent of the Little Stranger Caused Flurry Among Women of the Ladies’ Aid
LEFT IN JANITOR’S BED
The Infant Is Sent Temporarily to Bellevue, but the Women Say They Want to Bring It Up.
The day before yesterday, and theretofore, the basement door of the Greek Orthodox Church, Holy Trinity, at Seventy-second Street and Lexington Avenue, could be opened without the slightest sound. It always stood unlocked.
But yesterday there was a shrill bell attached to the door, which rang sharply whenever the door was opened. Moreover, whenever the door did open or the bell rang there was a quick movement on the part of the janitor and of those members of the Ladies’ Aid Society who happened to be present to see who entered.
For on the previous day some one, taking advantage of the fact that the door latch was always out, had slipped into the janitor’s room in the basement and left in his bed a two weeks’ old boy baby. The janitor and l adies are glad that the baby came to the church, but do not wish, nevertheless, to establish such a precedent. Hence the new bell.
It was quite dark and the Ladies’ Aid Society had finished its meeting in the rear room of the basement when there came a squeak from the janitor’s room. The members of the society acted variously. The unmarried members got on chairs.
“It’s a mouse,” they said.
The married members listened attentively.
“It’s a baby,” they asserted.
Leaving the unmarried members still on their chairs, the married members hurried to the janitor’s room. On the bed was a little white bundle. As they drew near the little squeak was repeated.
One of the women more bold than her sisters went to the bed and threw back a blanket. A baby blinked up at her.
The question arose what was to be done with the infant.
“Notify the police,” said the janitor.
But word went about the room:
“It’s a Greek Church baby, and the Greek Church should take care of its own.”
So the police were not notified. Instead, one of the members of the society took the baby home. Yesterday the society was about to meet to discuss what was to be the ultimate disposition of the baby when a policeman arrived. The janitor, possibly not relishing the idea of a church baby, had telephoned to the East Sixty-seventh Street Station.
The baby was taken to Bellevue.
“But we want it here,” said the members of the Ladies’ Aid Society.
“You can claim it at Bellevue,” the policeman told them.
So the members of the society haven’t given up the idea of adopting the church baby. To-day there will be a special meeting of the society, when steps looking to its adoption will be taken.
If you’re anything like me, you want to know the rest of this story — what happened to the baby? Did one of the Greek women adopt him? How did his life turn out? I haven’t yet found any other articles on this story, but beyond the newspapers, an obvious place to look is in the baptismal records of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (now Cathedral). Presumably, if the baby was adopted by one of the parishioners, he would have been baptized sometime between this May 1, 1908 newspaper article and the end of 1908. As I said earlier, if any of our readers can help solve this mystery, email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
As far as Albanian Orthodox history in America goes, there’s no bigger figure than Metropolitan Theophan — or “Fan” — Noli. He’s best known for his three-plus decades as bishop of the Albanian jurisdiction which ultimately joined the Russian Metropolia (and which is now the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA). Before that, he was the head of the Orthodox Church in Albania. And for five months in 1924, Metropolitan Theophan served as the Prime Minister of Albania. While he was the primate of an Orthodox Church. It was a crazy time.
Anyway, before all of that, Noli was in the United States. He arrived in 1906, when he was 24 years old. He made his way to Boston, where he enrolled at Harvard University. At the time, the Albanians in Boston attended the city’s Greek parish. According to the 1975 OCA book Orthodox America: 1794-1976, “After a series of problems with the local Greek priest, these Albanian immigrants wanted to have their own Albanian priest and for this task selected Fan Noli.”
In March of 1908, the Russian Archbishop Platon ordained Noli to the priesthood. Just days later, Noli used his own translation of the Divine Liturgy to serve the first-ever Orthodox Liturgy in the Albanian language. Not just the first in America — the first ever, period. In fact, it was Noli who later brought the Albanian-language Divine Liturgy to Albania itself; before that, all the services were in Greek. This landmark Liturgy took place on March 22, 1908 — so, 102 years ago today. Here is the report that appeared in the Boston Globe two days later:
Rev Fan S. Noli, pastor of the Albanian Orthodox diocese of the United States and Canada, conducted the first service ever held in the Albanian tongue in Boston at Knights of Honor hall, 730 Washington st, Sunday evening. More than 500 Albanians were present, and Rev Mr Noli delivered an interesting address in which he explained the aims and progress of the movement in this country.
Rev Mr Noli was born in Adrianople, Turkey, and educated in the Greek high school and the French college in that city. In the two years following his graduation, he was in business in Asia Minor, and this was followed by five years’ newspaper work in Greece and Egypt. He then put in two years as a professor of French and Greek in a school in Egypt. His school work palled on him and he determined to sail for this country.
Shortly after his arrival in Boston, which was his objective point, he became assistant editor of the Albanian weekly newspaper, the Kombi. He found time to study for the priesthood and was ordained March 8, in the Russian cathedral, East 97th st, New York. He is the master of a number of languages, among which are Greek, French, English, Italian, Arabic, Turkish and some German, in addition to his native speech.
Rev Mr Noli said that there are about 30,000 of his countrymen in the United States, and that most of them are communicants of the Greek Orthodox church. Speaking of Albania, a province in Macedonia, he said that its 3,000,000 inhabitants are divided among three religious faiths, Roman Catholicism, the Greek church and Mahometanism. The country has been under Turkish domination since the death of its last king, George Castriot, in 1463. There has never been any religious strife in Albania, but the Turkish government forbids the use of the Albanian language in the schools, and every book and pamphet [sic] written in that tongue is confiscated.
The Greek patriarch anathematized the Albanian translations of the Bible, which were purchased from the Bible society of London, and all these copies were confiscated. In the face of such difficulties it was impossible for national unity, as the leaders were persecuted and condemned to exile or death.
Fr Noli intends to establish churches wherever he finds his countrymen, in this country, Roumania, Russia and Egypt. He has translated the service book into his native tongue, and he intends to render other religious works into Albanian for his people.
I’m a tad skeptical of Noli’s claim that there were 30,000 Albanians in America in 1908. The 1916 Census of Religious Bodies reports 410 Albanian Orthodox in two churches. By 1926, there were 1,993 parishioners in nine parishes, and in 1936, those numbers had grown to 3,137 people in 13 congregations.
Noli traveled to Albania in 1913, where he served the first Albanian-language church service in Albania itself. With the onset of World War I, he returned to the US, eventually becoming the official administrator of the Albanian parishes under the Russian Archdiocese. When the war ended, Noli again went to Albania, where he became deeply involved in politics. In 1923, he was consecrated a bishop, the new head of the Albanian Orthodox Church. He became Prime Minister of Albania the next year, but was soon expelled from the country. In 1932, he returned to the US and headed the Albanian Archdiocese until his death on March 13, 1965.
At the turn of the last century, relations between the Orthodox and Anglican Churches were quite warm. They cooled a bit in 1905, when St. Tikhon ordained the former Episcopal priest Ingram Nathaniel Irvine to the Orthodox priesthood, but even so, many on both sides of the dialogue felt that full union would eventually happen.
In England in 1896, a body was formed called the “Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union.” A dozen years later, in 1908, a group of High Church Episcopalians decided to establish an American branch of the organization. Several Orthodox leaders attended the first meeting in New York City, including the Syrian Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny and two of his clergy, the Fr. Benedict Turkevich (representing the Russian Archdiocese), and Fr. Methodios Korkolis (representing the Greeks). During the meeting, St. Raphael was elected to be the Orthodox Vice President.
The Episcopalians had an ambitious agenda: they wanted the Orthodox to recognize their holy orders as valid; indeed, they wanted to be recognized as a Local Church, just as “Orthodox” as Russia or Antioch. The Orthodox, and St. Raphael in particular, had much more modest goals. They wanted to promote friendly dialogue, with initiatives such as seminarian exchanges.
All the while, St. Raphael faced a monumentally difficult pastoral situation. His flock was scattered across North America, and many lived far away from any Orthodox church, Syrian or otherwise. In 1909, the Episcopalians suggested that he have the Anglican Book of Common Prayer translated into Arabic, so that the Syrians could worship with the Episcopalians. Raphael responded that it would be better for the Episcopalians to buy some Orthodox service books for their churches, so that the Syrians could use them if they visited.
In June of 1910, Raphael went even further, granting formal permission for his people to seek the ministrations of Episcopal clergymen in the event that no Orthodox priest was available. Here is his letter, which I am reprinting from the Journal of the Proceedings of the One Hundred and Ninth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New Hampshire (November 1910):
Right Reverend and Reverend Brothers:—
I thank God for the great work which is being done by our Union, in the way of promoting fellowship and a better understanding between the Holy Orthodox and Anglican Churches.
I assure you also of my full appreciation of all the kindnesses and courtesies extended to me and my people.
Now, in order that all complications may be avoided in the matter of mixed Services, that is, when a Syrian Orthodox may desire to have any Sacrament performed by a Bishop or Priest of the Anglican Communion in North America, I offer briefly some of our rules, as Orthodox Catholics, which, if possible, I beg to have enforced.
However, in this matter I am only speaking for myself personally, as an Orthodox Bishop, and in no way binding my brother Orthodox Bishops in North America. I speak alone for the Syrian people.
First:—It is against our Law to marry two brothers to two sisters.
Second:—It is equally contrary to the same law to marry a man to a deceased wife’s sister, and vice versa.
Third:—We do not permit marriage within the fourth degree of consanguinity.
Fourth:—Civil Divorces are not acknowledged by the Orthodox Church, unless for causes she sanctions; and, therefore, no civilly divorced person can be reunited in wedlock to another party, unlets divorced by the Church, as well as by the State.
Fifth:—The Orthodox Church requires that a child shall be baptized by a Trine Immersion in the water, and be immediately afterwards Chrismated.
Inasmuch as there is a variance between your and our Churches in these matters, I suggest that, before any marriage Service is performed for Syrians desiring the services of the Protestant Episcopal Clergy, where there is no Orthodox Priest, that the Syrians shall first procure a license from me, their Bishop, giving them permission, and that, where there is a resident Orthodox Priest, that, the Episcopal Clergy may advise them to have such Service performed by him.
Again, in the case of Holy Baptism, that, where there is no resident Orthodox Priest, that the Orthodox law in reference to the administra
tion of the Sacrament be observed, namely immersion three times, with the advice to the parents and witnesses that, as soon as possible, the child shall be taken to an Orthodox Priest to receive Chrismation, which is absolutely binding according to the Law of the Orthodox Church.
Furthermore, when an Orthodox Layman is dying, if he confesses his sins, and professes that he is dying in the full communion of the Orthodox Faith, as expressed in the Orthodox version of the Nicene Creed, and the other requirements of the said Church, and desires the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, at the hands of an Episcopal Clergyman, permission is hereby given to administer to him this Blessed Sacrament, and to be buried according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Episcopal Church. But, it is recommended that, if an Orthodox Service Book can be procured, that the Sacraments and Rites be performed as set forth in that Book.
And now I pray God that He may hasten the time when the Spiritual Heads of the National Churches, of both yours and ours, may take our places in cementing the Union between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches, which we have so humbly begun; then there will be no need of suggestions, such as I have made, as to how, or by whom, Services shall be performed; and, instead of praying that we “all may be one” we shall know that we are one in Christ’s Love and Faith.
Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn.
Not long after issuing this letter, St. Raphael did an about-face, withdrawing from the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union altogether, and instructing his people to disregard his previous letter. We’ll discuss those events in the near future.
The following is a translation from the French of the article “Un Conquete du Patriarcat Oecumenique,” from Échos d’Orient, Volume 11, 1908, concerning Fr. Raphael (Robert Josias) Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America. The article uses his middle name “Josias.”
The translation was done using Google Translate with a little cleaning afterward. A few pf the phrases made sense neither to Google nor to me, but I tried my best with my rudimentary French. Corrections are welcome. This article was originally spotted by Matthew Namee.
A CONQUEST OF THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
The Church of Constantinople recorded last summer a resounding conquest, which has made local headlines for days in the newspapers and halls of the capital. An American clergyman, a native of the English Antilles [the West Indies], a negro of the finest black, the Reverend Robert Morgan, after a few weeks of living on the shores of the Golden Horn, has had the singular grace of seeing the light of Tabor and being admitted into Orthodoxy. His [prior] baptism worthless, like all unbelievers who live outside the Orthodox Church, the said negro, a robust fellow of about thirty-five years, was plunged three times from head to toe in the font of purification, and came out white, one of the flock of the great Church of Christ. After which, the neophyte, wishing to obtain the sacred order of priesthood that he was only supposed to have before, was ordained priest by Mgr. Joachim Phouropolos, a Metropolitan expelled from Monastir [present day Bitola, FYROM - edited thanks to comment!], who recited the prayers of the Pontifical in English. Since then, the ex-Reverend Morgan, now become Father Josias Morgan, said Mass in the Byzantine rite in the English language [emphasis in original].
This is how this this actually happened. It is understandable that this is of public interest in Constantinople, which really lacks entertainment.
I saw Father Josias, and one summer morning I mounted with him the green and sunny shores of the Bosphorus. At the pier of the Chirket, with the wide sleeves of his rasso, in his kamilafki all brand new, and with his booming voice, he attracted the attention of all, to the delight of the Greeks, proud of their booty, and to the great amusement of young Ottoman officers accustomed to seeing people of color in the company of Turkish women. Having gone to see an Englishman of my acquaintance, I told him of my meeting. I now literally transcribe the brief dialogue that ensued between us:
- “M. G…, I saw this morning, one of your compatriots.”
- “Where was this?”
- “On the boat Chirket.”
- “Where is he from?”
- “I think he is from Jamaica.”
- “Introduce him to me, so I may make his acquaintance,” said my friend who has long lived in this island.
- “I will do so, but I must warn you that he is a negro.”
- “Oh! Well, don’t introduce me.”
- “I should add he became a Greek priest.”
- “A Greek priest! You are confused and this must be a sorcerer.”
- “I’ve never seen a negro sorcerer, but I know enough of the dress of Orthodox priests such that there is no error on my part.”
- “You’re right, after all; this does not surprise me.”
- “What! I am surprised by this very much.”
- “The negroes are very religious.”
- “Indeed, yes, they have so much religion that they change it every week.”
My friend was wrong. Many weeks have passed since our conversation, and Father Josias remained faithful to the Orthodox Church. He left Constantinople for Philadelphia in the United States in the first days of November, carrying 28 Turkish lira (a lira is worth about 23 francs) which was given by the holy synod for his travel expenses.
What will he do in his country? Certainly, [he will] found an Orthodox church of negroes. But what else? That’s what we know, and in fact, the first goal was good enough [et d'ailleurs le premier but suffit - edited thanks to Facebook comment!]. It seems, however, that the Reverend Morgan had intended, embracing Orthodoxy, to be consecrated bishop. The Holy Synod declined, and I think it was wrong. The ordination of a bishop of color would have rendered invaluable services.
Firstly, being an American and a member of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, said Morgan would have exercised jurisdiction over all the Greeks settled in America. Hence a great advantage would be obtained by the Phanar over the Church of Athens. At the same time, the latter took their revenge. Indeed, if the Greeks of America continue to ask for a bishop, they will want a white [one], of course. They are a people of such a taste and wit as never to accept a negro bishop, even were he the eunuch of Queen Candace [of Ethiopia]. From the day they would have imposed Morgan as Bishop on them, they would have returned to the motherland; which contrasts with Athens on the question of emigration, which furnished to Cabinet Theotokis ten thousand conscripts who lack the necessary annual [pay] [et fournissait au Cabinet Theotokis les dix mille conscrits nécessaires qui lui manquent annuellement].
It is really unfortunate that the Church of Constantinople had not thought of all these advantages and has left the negro Morgan unconsecrated as bishop.
Update: It should be noted that the posting of this historical article should in no way be construed as an endorsement of the opinions expressed therein.