NEW YORK – Over 620 members of the Greek-American community gathered for a night of holiday cheer at the Harvard Club of New York City in support of Manhattan’s historic Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. A combination of the Stewardship and Mistletoe galas, the event catered to church stewards and young professionals alike, celebrating its most successful year thus far.
“It has always been the goal of Annunciation to bring together people of faith, of all ages, to meet in a beautiful venue to mingle and network,” said Leadership 100 Secretary and Gala Executive Chair Kassandra Romas.
An anticipated annual holiday event, the Mistletoe gala was particularly popular among young professionals, who made up the bulk of attendees with some 420 individuals.
“Our young adults feel connected to their Orthodox faith and Hellenic identity,” Reverend Archimandrite Chrysostomos Gilbert of Annunciation Church said.
Among those showing their support were members of parish young professional groups and organizations promoting Hellenism, including past campers and counselors of Ionian Village, and members of the National Hellenic Student Association, Ariston Foundation and the National Hellenic Society, among others.
“We must make our young professionals feel relevant in the Church. We have to stop saying they are the ‘future’ of the Church, but instead make them part of the ‘present’ Church,” said Rev. Archimandrite Chrysostomos Gilbert, who coordinates the Annunciation Young Professionals Ministry.
The Annunciation Young Professionals meet for an activity at least once a month, enjoying social outings supporting local Greek owned restaurants, philanthropic works benefiting the greater New York City community, and religious pilgrimages.
Chaired by Romas, the Mistletoe gala was organized by a small group of Annunciation’s Young Professionals including Vicki Haskopoulos and sibling team Niki and Alex Devaris, and Chloe and Paul Politis.
Set in the 126-year-old landmark Harvard Club, the evening included live music, dinner, drinks and dancing. Augmented by a giant Christmas tree that stood for a picture-perfect backdrop, the cozy surroundings and seasonal decor offered a pleasant holiday vibe.
“It’s about coming together to not only develop a social network, but to support what is a large part of being Greek, the Church,” said Konstantine Ouranitsas, Chairman of the National Hellenic Student Association.
Launched in 2005, the Stewardship and Mistletoe galas serve as a fundraiser for Annunciation Church’s various efforts, and is part of a Capital Restoration campaign aimed at raising funds to restore the church building.
Among notable attendees were Archdiocesan Council Vice-Chairman George Tsandikos, Leadership 100 Executive Director Paulette Poulos, Annunciation Parish Council President Dr. John P. Getsos, Director of Ionian Village Reverend Father Evagoras Constantinides and Consul General of Greece Trade Commissioner Georgios Michailidis.
The sweet takeaway of the night was a custom Annunciation Church-engraved chocolate bar and memories of a gala for a good cause. Musical entertainment for the night was provided by Dean Vali and Bobby Karounos.
“We are pleased and proud that our event has promoted good will and encourage our faithful to share good times under the auspices of the Church,” Romas said.
Founded in 1892 and located on the Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the first time in the Hudson Memorial Baptist Church on West 4th Street. The parish celebrated its 125th year anniversary last year, honoring His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, who celebrated 50 years in the Episcopal ministry.