History of St. Peter’s
by Christos Zisis Roulidis
The Founding Fathers who made Danville, Virginia their home came to the New World, as so many others did, in search of a better future for themselves and their families. For them it was a sacred mission. They were proud people motivated by high ideals and values, and they were willing to endure hardships and separation from their loved ones in order to fulfill their destiny.
They were strangers in a strange city called Danville, Virginia. The early Greek settlers, however, shared two very strong bonds: common national origin and the Greek Orthodox Faith. Background, dialects, and customs were different, but the need in their hearts for ethnic identity and love for their church drew them together into an organized Greek Community that they eventually named “Socrates”.
This was a local organization representing the Greek people of Danville in an official capacity.
The momentous decision was reached by the “Socrates” group in 1943: the Greek community of Danville was going to have a Church of their own.
When sufficient funds were collected from among themselves they commissioned R. W. Thompson, local architect, to prepare plans and drawings for their church.
The contract was awarded to P. L. Anderson & Son, local contractor, in 1945 for completion of the basic building – not including furniture, icons, stained glass windows, and related decorative items. These items were donated by the original congregation.
The church building was completed in the fall of 1946 and the placing of the cornerstone was blessed in the spring of 1947 by Rev. Vouros of Roanoke, Virginia and Rev. Papalambros of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Peter G. Maurakis received the key to the Church and in accordance with tradition the Church was named St. Peters, after the Apostle Peter, his patron Saint.
The Right Rev. Modestos Stavridis of Charleston, South Carolina was the first priest to serve St. Peters Greek Orthodox Church of Danville, Virginia.
First church services in the new Church started in the fall of 1947.
The dream had come true. The Founding Fathers gave the Greek people of Danville strong ethnic identity and their own Church. The strange city of Danville had finally become hometown.
The first Community Board and Building Committee consisted of the following dedicated men: Pete E. Agrafiotes, President, Peter G. Maurakis, Vice-President, George D. Gantsoudes, Athan K. Haliasos, Basil N. Halikakis, James D. Kalezis, Mike S. Kamvisis, Sam A. Kantsios, Elias P. Lembesis, Albert P. Maurakis, George P. Maurakis, Harry K. Sakellaris, Basil S. Skenderis.
The Philoptochos Society, the Ladies Auxiliary of St. Peters was organized when the first Divine Liturgy was performed in 1947. This devoted group of ladies has provided invaluable contributions and service to the community. The first president of the Philoptochos was Mrs. Helen Maurakis.
To enrich the church services a choir was organized under the direction of Mrs. Katherine Kantsios.
As our community grew a Parish Home was purchased in October 1963 located at 130 Sutherlin Avenue, Danville.
It is important to note that both structures, the church building as well as the Parish Home, are free of any mortgage. This is indeed a living testimonial to the dedication of the Greek Community of Danville which, although small in numbers, has had the courage and generosity to strive for excellence and translate ideals into reality for all generations, which will pass through here, to see.